Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

No get­ting away from the dig­i­tal world

- An­mol Sandhu an­mol_sandhu2007@ya­hoo.co.in The writer is a Pa­tiala­based free­lance con­trib­u­tor Whatsapp · Google · HBO · Facebook · Instagram · Chester Bennington

I’m try­ing re­ally hard to con­cen­trate on the book in my hand, but the cou­ple seated on the table be­hind me is in no mood to ar­gue at a lower deci­bel. I look over my shoul­der and re­alise I’m not the only one whose at­ten­tion the young cou­ple has caught. They’re barely out of their teens and by the looks of it, are hav­ing a lover’s tiff.

“You’ve not been an­swer­ing my What­sApp mes­sages!” the girl ac­cuses the guy.

“I al­ways an­swer your mes­sages, babe.”

“No! You an­swer half an hour af­ter the ticks turn blue.” I can al­most pic­ture her sulk­ing. “But babe, I al­ways an­swer, no?” “Hmm. I know you’ve been ghost­ing me.” Ghost­ing? I aban­don my book and a quick Google search tells me that it’s pos­si­ble for an alive per­son to be­come a dig­i­tal ghost. I know eaves­drop­ping is rude but they were be­com­ing louder with each ar­gu­ment, and hon­estly, the fight was giv­ing me a lot of dig­i­tal en­light­en­ment.

They were try­ing to DTR (which now I know is ‘De­fine the Re­la­tion­ship’) and the girl had some ma­jor is­sues with them not be­ing FBO (not even a re­mote cousin of HBO, but ‘Face­book Of­fi­cial’).

Half an hour later, they prob­a­bly ran out of new age dat­ing jar­gons and their fight seem­ingly ended on a lot of ‘awws’ and ‘baes’. And there I was, shame­lessly Googling and ad­ding words to my dic­tio­nary and feel­ing so far off from the new gen­er­a­tion.

I’m a mil­len­nial too, but I con­sider my­self a pretty av­er­age run­ner in the dig­i­tal space. Though I do find it quite flat­ter­ing when I see a huge num­ber of likes and com­ments on my up­loads, I don’t think I’ll lose any sleep if the num­bers dip.

The cou­ple had long left but I was still sit­ting there with my phone in one hand and a cof­fee mug in the other, think­ing how im­por­tant our dig­i­tal lives have be­come for us. As if strik­ing a bal­ance be­tween the per­sonal and the pro­fes­sional life wasn’t enough, we also have a dig­i­tal life to take care of.

Ch­ester Ben­ning­ton’s cheer­ful video recorded less than two days be­fore he com­mit­ted sui­cide had caught my at­ten­tion, but what I didn’t know was that the urge to seem dif­fer­ent and far from re­al­ity wasn’t some­thing that was spe­cific to the rich and fa­mous. We are all bit­ten by the same bug. We not only put ‘fil­ters’ on our pic­tures, but we also end up cam­ou­flag­ing our real self so well that the world sees only what we want them to see.

Sud­denly lib­er­ated by this re­al­i­sa­tion, I de­cided to go off the radar and have a dig­i­tal de­tox. I de­ac­ti­vated my Face­book and In­sta­gram ac­counts, was check­ing my mails only twice a day and even re­stricted my us­age of What­sApp. The de­tox lasted, well, for about 10 days, be­fore temp­ta­tion set in.

The apps were down­loaded, the ac­counts were re­ac­ti­vated, and I was on­line again. You ask why? Well, FOMO! For the unini­ti­ated, it’s the Fear of Miss­ing Out.

I’M A MIL­LEN­NIAL TOO, BUT I CON­SIDER MY­SELF A PRETTY AV­ER­AGE RUN­NER IN THE DIG­I­TAL SPACE. THOUGH I DO FIND IT FLAT­TER­ING WHEN I SEE A HUGE NUM­BER OF LIKES ON MY UP­LOADS, I DON’T THINK I’LL LOSE ANY SLEEP IF THE NUM­BERS DIP

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