Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Virtually me

What can be worse than Google-ing your name on internet and finding nothing? "– A friend recently posed this question and my reply was, “ May be Google-ing your name and finding that there is another You – the virtual you, who has little or no traces of the real you.” Even without this little experiment I am daily finding proof of existence of my virtual self.
The growth of mobile phones and internet has resulted in a death- ….. the death of distance, the death of reality and also the death of privacy . The physical location of you is now immaterial. You are always connected, always near and always here.” I was amazed at the argument of this speaker few years back, in a class on Changes in society due to Development of Technology. Something which was a matter of poetry and imagination is now true. You need not be physically present in a place to meet people , to impress them, to build relationships, to feel human emotions of love, camaraderie or…. even hurt . Your virtual avatar is capable of all sensations and emotions like the real you…and who knows, may be more than real you.
My journey on this time square of the global village of tomorrow- that is on internet, started off in 1999-2000 when my sis introduced me to email and Google . That was the birth of the virtual me . After finding information on most strange subjects, meeting my long lost friends and making impossible tasks happen in minutes- I am convinced that internet is God …or virtually God . I know many net-addicts like me who use internet almost as a pensieve of thoughts, we exist as much on net as in real world . For last few days almost every day I get to know of something which is strengthening my suspicion that this virtual me is getting more well known than the real me. I realized long back that Internet is so big, so powerful and pointless that for some people it is a complete substitute for life…they exist almost exclusively on the virtual web. But was convinced that I am not one such addict. It was only recently that media and social experts started making noises about the other side of this liberation . The virtually empowered people were losing their social skills in the real world for lack of practice. "Now that we are online Let's chat "
Technology that was built to shrink distances to bring us closer actually begin to encourage us to live a virtual life by pushing us towards seeking face-to-face interactions through the use of these devices and not the real way . My first such experience came with Yahoo messenger chats. Through chatrooms , I could meet people with similar interest. Though not all of them were nice to interact with after few chats but it was through net that I found some of my (now) close real life friends. I would not easily forget the expression of confusion plus anxiety on a friend S’s face when we first met face to face. We had talked over phone a day back…so all he could manage to utter was … “Say something, so that I know you are really you .” We continue to be as good friends in real world as we were in the virtual one. But I have seen cases where it is not like that . Once people lose the thin cover of appearing on the computer screen they do not look/sound that good. The way net chatting and socializing has liberated us reminds me of the famous song from musical Chicago-
“In fifty years or so
It's gonna change, you know
But, oh, it's heaven
You can like the life you're livin'
You can live the life you like….
...And that'sGood, isn't it?
Grand, isn't it?
Great, isn't it?
Swell, isn't it?
Fun, isn't it...”
Yes it is all that and more…it can also be dangerous, criminal and even fraudulent . But now we have choices even in our mode of socializing on net as well. I could never understand the logic of social networking sites as they invade in your privacy too much beyond my imagination. So I gradually limited my use of these. What I finally got hooked to is blogging. Yeah, there is a hoot , a hint of thinly coated narcissism in each post one makes on a blog. Having unknown random visitors coming and reading your posts, giving their comments and appreciation…is a happy flattering feeling. Even criticisms sounds so mild when you find that in terms of comments…..but the real buzz factor lies in the possibility that someday I might just be able to transform this virtual connections into a real ones. I got one pleasant surprise the other day when Alan Shaw , the author of war memoirs "Marching on to Laffan's Plain" send me a letter after reading an excerpt of his book in one of my post (this one ) . I was thrilled to know that my 90+ friend from the virtual world took trouble to make a real life connection. I learnt so much more from his regular emails since then about an India he lived in the Raj days. Then on another occasion I once called a business associate and his secretary before connecting the phone asked me if I am the same Atoorva who writes a blog called “A Blue dot of thoughts”. Well, I was stunned . Then marched a vague and unsure 'scrap' on my orkut profile from a guy whom I remember only as a 7-8 year old younger brother of my best friend from school . Me and this friend had lost touch after her marriage and now after decades I came to know that she tried all methods of real world to know my whereabout and finally we were able to re-establish connection only through Orkut. The most recent is someone calling my sis on her company’s intranet inquiring if I am her sister . He read a post on my name( this one ) and discovered that her little daughter’s name (Atoorva) is not unique. I share the disappointment with this young father but somehow, it is a nice feeling that the real world is coming close to me through my virtual existence.


कुमार आलोक said...

मुझे इंतजार होता है आपके पोस्ट का । मैनें कुछ दिनों तक कंप्यूटर टीचर का भी रोल निभाया । इंटरनेट की उत्पत्ती और उसकी विशेषताओं के बारे में बच्चों को पढाया करता था । आपकी भाषा और लिखने का अंदाज ऐसा होता है कि मैं अंग्रेजी का विशेष जानकार ना होते हुये भी आपके आलेख को आसानी से आत्मसात कर जाता हूँ। इसमें कोइ दो राय नही है कि इंटरनेट या कंप्यूटर जगत की क्रांति ने वैसे लोगों को अपने दायरे के अंदर पहुंचाया है जिन्हें या तो हम भूल चुके थे या ये सोचकर हमने अपनी स्मृतियों से उनको ओझल करने की कोशिश कर दी कि शायद ही हम उससे मिल सकें । मैम मैं नक्सलवाद के सच पर कुछ लिखने की कोशिश कर रहा हूं आपके विवेचनात्मक प्रतिक्रिया की आवश्कता है ।

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