Sometime back, I had this conversation with Surekha. Let me give you the context. I subscribe to a lot of sites on Google Reader, and therefore find a lot of links that I want to share. I end up sharing them – on Reader itself, where i can also ‘Like’ it, on Twitter, rarely on FB, many times on delicious. I also use many of these links for the posts on my other blog. Surekha’s observation was that I was stingy with praise. I, as is my wont, proceeded to defend myself. I said that since my sharing had multiple layers and filters, the very fact that I shared it on Twitter was a praise in itself. She called me elitist (which, after a recent post, is almost as insulting to me as being called a vegetarian :p) From where she’s looking, she’s right, and its a valid perspective, though I wouldn’t admit it then.
It made me think about how I share links. Now, I’m not sure if this is retrofit rationalisation or an inbuilt mechanism. In my chat with Surekha I had mentioned that my varied interests meant that what I considered a ‘Good Read’ might be a lousy read for someone not interested in the subject. I wonder now, if my binary kind of approach to things (0 or 1, extremes) coupled with my objectivity fixation makes me just share something without an opinion, so that the person who reads is without the baggage of my bias, good or bad.
Sometime back, after watching the stream for a while, and reading opinions on a subject, I asked Mo, “post this generation,do you think anyone will know there is a ‘don’t like it,don’t use it’ option? wouldn’t they feel obliged to comment? :|”. I felt that, what blogging started, microblogging has accelerated. From books and places and events to personal traits – not just of celebrities, but of other users’, everything finds its way into the stream, the digital version of the collective consciousness. To corrupt the current Videocon line “We is the new me”. Our ‘stream world’ and all its inhabitants seem extensions of ourselves, a huge canvas of vicarious living. Do many of us feel obliged to share our opinion in real time, some kind of pressure to constantly contribute, and so we comment on everything we can lay hands on?
In this sharing blitz, do we spare a thought for the object of our comment? Specifically people. With real time, opinions are being formed in minutes. Yes, everyone is entitled to one, but does it also mean we become trigger-happy? When we stick labels, when we judge, do we think of the effort/thought/perspective of the person at the other end? (those on Twitter, think #mpartha, #princesssheeba…I must say, i confess to some silly work on the latter) As we have more listeners, do we feel obliged to pass judgment and evolve into what others would be impressed with/like? Is that why people change when they become popular on say, twitter? It happens in real life too – this modeling of self based on the audience, but in real life, its difficult to enter the streams of thousands of people. With each of us getting a microphone, I wonder if we have entered ourselves unwittingly into a new form of rat race, in which the casualty is compassion and consideration for others?
until next time, this is an opinion too