Sunday, October 5, 2014

Direct Connections!

We Indians have suddenly in the last 6 months been introduced to the power of communication, all thanks to our PM, Narendra Modi. Especially, coming after the complete communication failure of the Congress, it was good to have a PM you actually wanted to listen to on Independence Day, or at New York, or at my home town of Aurangabad. It was a change and a good one.
It began with the "Acche Din Ane Wale hain" social media blitz campaign, it started off being the irritating advert on radio or paper and then we were surrounded by the jingle on all fronts - print, radio, television, twitter, Facebook and we had no choice but to get over our irritation and actually look for and understand the message that was being communicated and it definitely seems to have been understood by all for BJP to come into power all on its own!
That is the power of communication.
But with this power comes great responsibility. The responsibility of being remembered and being held accountable for your actions and promises.

On a personal level, social media has helped us connect, it has helped us build brands, it has broken down distance barriers. But many of us have forgotten to take into account the responsibility that comes with this great power of invading someone else's time and space.
Why are people slowly moving off of Facebook? Why has whats app turned into a tool of irritation rather than enjoyment. The endless stream of forwards, the "funniest video you have ever seen", the "most epic photo ever", the "let me disclose and involve you in every minute detail of my life" has reached a level that is not tolerable.
Of the 300 odd friends i have on Facebook, i would, given a chance, not bother meeting if they were in the same town, about 280 of them and for my 20 close friends i don't need Facebook. I use whats app for making plans with my 20 friends, but i don't need what app when it adds me to a group of some relatives / colleagues that i don't want to be a part of and cannot quit the group as that would be too rude. I need whats app when my suppliers can easily send photos of receipts and material, but i don't want the same suppliers asking me "who is in your display picture with you" .
And so we log onto the privacy settings, and construct walls around our profiles, when ironically the very existence of social media is to break down these walls and connect!

I wish friends on facebook, without bothering to call them. We meet as a group and more than half the people are busy on their phones, i see people stopping their cars and bikes to answer whats app messages (we should be glad they are stopping, and not texting while driving!). But there is a fear of missing out if you are off social media. It is not a very easy, black and white decision that you can make.
And so last night stands out for me.
I was invited to Launch of Independence Brewing company's own beers by a friend, who is interested in home / own brewed beers.
I asked Sagar to accompany me as i knew no one else there. We reached the place at 9.00 pm and till it was time to go home i did  not have a chance to look at my phone. I didn't want to. In fact except for a lady's phone cover that i liked and wanted to see, i did not notice any other cellphones. They were pocketed, as they are meant to be!
The evening was all about hanging out with 6 other people i was meeting for the first time, ironically most of them were from the media industry! There was the customary discussion about the beers, and the "fun facts" sharing by our common friend, and then it was an open to any kind of discussion climate - from relationships, jobs, cities, humor to food, photography, weddings and drunken escapades. Surprisingly, no one was interested in clicking any photos either, to put up on a social media platform, so that other people would know about it. I think when you have a good time, you don't feel the need to display it. Maybe these guys are so involved with communication and media all day every day, they want to escape it when it is their time off!
I may not meet these people again, or maybe i will. But i will remember them as a set of genuine people interested in other people and not just avatars, building up their friends count.

I will remember the fun we used to have without social media and instant connectivity.
The charm of an actual conversation!

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