Thursday, October 4, 2012

Status Update - Readers Envy Writers Pride






Picture Courtesy: facebook.coversdaddy.com
One has to hand it to novelist Gore Vidal for his candid quote, “Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little.” Though most experience it, envy is an emotion people are normally wary of admitting. Call it the art of counting your neighbors blessings instead of your own, but measured in different degrees, most people envy their compatriots: more famous, more paid, more successful, and more intelligent.

And stoking the fires of envy is Zuckerberg’s progeny. Recently a friend confessed that her daughter was troubled after pressing the ‘like’ button on the pictures of her friend vacationing in Mauritius. The girl felt she was missing out on opportunities. Likewise, several others resent their single status because friends regularly upload cozy pictures with partners. The thought, “Why should friends have all the fun?” can be distressing, especially if one keeps up with friends from childhood .

The phenomenon is not restricted to impressionable teens. From what I hear from my son, the bonhomie between batch-mates was under duress when companies started visiting his college for placements. Who got what, and how much, was playing on the status bar. And on most minds! 

Psychologists say, “Boasting on social media triggers the same sensation of pleasure as food, money or even sex.” Since self-disclosure is extra rewarding, it can instigate some kind of competition to highlight fun moments and achievements. I have indulged in some generic boasting too. This is not to say that all Facebook users intentionally indulge in a boasting spree. It is the nature of the medium. And also a matter of personal choice!

Some do it inadvertently, some subtly while some blatantly. Bragging may or may not be playing on the mind of a friend who decides to post, “Gosh…There is a long queue for I Phone 5,” or, when a friend innocuously inquires “Anyone in UK this weekend? Shopping at Harrods?”

The question that begs to be asked is: How real is the virtual world? Peel the layers and most are going through some sort of challenging life experience - stressful job, strained relationship, financial crisis, failed marriage, family feud, exam phobia, or health scare. Yet, how many wish to admit and discuss their personal challenges on a public platform? Have you come across a status message which reads, “Fired, Divorced, Abused, Failed or Depressed?”

For one, there will be no ‘Likes’. Fine, some concerned friends will possibly move to the privacy of the message box and inquire, “What happened?” Some will try to cheer by sharing motivational pictures with the message, ‘Never Give Up’. But how many will call to say, “How can I help?” And if they do, thank the Lord for being blessed with such friends.

To my mind, social media is an amazing platform for raising awareness, advertising, keeping up with school friends and venting ire against the establishment. Essentially, it is a platform for the good times. A place for social niceties. Start ‘disliking’ pictures or try being brutally honest and you are sure to be ‘un-friended’ and tossed away in the cyber space. What else can one expect after, “Is this your wife? Now I know why you wanted your marriage to be a private affair,” or “Congratulations on winning the award. I heard you paid your way through.”

Well, in a way, viewing happy status updates and photos of peers having a gala time can make one feel worse about their own life. 

The trick is to realize that the greener grass on the other side could be an astro-turf. Like competition, as long as envy inspires, I don’t mind it at all. But add extra dollops and the risk is entirely yours.

(This article has featured in the ‘Young Adult’ section of the newspaper ‘Friday Gurgaon’ dated 28 September 2012.)


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73 comments:

  1. I agree 100 percent ! Facebook gives a very one-sided and distorted view of a persons life ... I knwo it leads to envy - I know people who have experienced that and it had also given rise to the art of bragging subtly !!

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    1. I guess the young brigade indulges in boasting....not all of them . As I said, it is the nature of the medium. It becomes infectious after some time.

      Delete
  2. Can see the Alka Punch in this post. I will give a small example here of my experience. One school friend in my list posted a message which meant that she has visited 15 countries so far and appreciating her hubby that it's not bad at all. So, I was discussing this with another friend saying, oh wow, she visited 15 countries so far...how fun? The other friend replied, "so does she have to tell the whole world about it?" If that is one aspect of the case, the other is, the same day evening I start nagging my hubby, see her husband has taken her to 15 countries and you haven't even taken me to 5 countries. Of course he states all the 5 countries we have gone to Visa stamping or had lay over, hahaha..that's a different story.
    I remember the old TV ad, 'Owner's pride, neighbour's envy'...:) A very true post, Alka.

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    1. True. Thanks for sharing...For most of us, happy, boasting, fun pics do effect the psyche somewhere.

      The title came from the same ad.

      Delete
  3. I better copy, paste those nasty remarks for future reference. Will be especially useful to trim my "friends list" on Facebook. It does get tiresome having to explain why I unfriended them.

    Btw Alka, I have never seen you brag on Facebook.

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    1. ha, ha..I know.
      I remember your insightful post on Blogadda, on how we use Facebook.

      Perhaps bragging was too strong a word. Its the nature of the medium...FB is a platform for sharing good news and happy moments.

      Delete
  4. The human nature sans maturity is a fit case for the discontent. FB, Twitter and status updates do not really much in real life but for a temporary kick like one after those who taste hash!Anything that gives a more permanent inner joy is worth a pursuit! Nice writing, Alka!

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    1. Thank you.You have summed it up aptly.

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  5. You have nailed it here Alka. A confession here, I deactivated from fb because I was used to be depressed after seeing all those 'happy' pics of my friends, because I was going through a hard time personally then.

    I am fine now, but really I dont wish to go back, to avoid those feelings coming back. I like my friends , I dont want to hate them because of fb. And about the grass being the astro truff, well very well said! One really never knows what is the actual 'status' behind all those layers!

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    1. Thank you for your candid comment Jenny. I know the feelings...most of us feel the same way but are wary of admitting.

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  6. oh this is soooo true.. believe me. As a doc working insane hours, it is like an added knife to the back watching pics of all the friends who fooled around in school now enjoying themselves and settled abroad and getting yearly paid vacations and what-not while we're slumming between diseases, blood and broken bones... not a rosy picture of myself, I realise... but the heart is what the heart is :)

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    1. Thank you for validating my thoughts doc...Good to know that most of us feel the same way but are wary of admitting.

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  7. Hard hitting Alka and so very true. Social media is all these. The backscratching gets on to me. But, like you said, try to be brutally honest and risk being tossed off to ignominy. Balance and feet planted on the ground are so crucial. Don't know if you read this post of mine. I attempted a similar topic:
    http://www.rachnaparmar.com/2012/09/the-perfect-blogger.html

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    1. Will read it right away....

      Social media is a platform for all that is good. The pain and anguish remain hidden. You know where I am coming from.

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    2. I know where you are coming from. Recently I took the conscious decision to cut down my FB time and stay away from FB forums. Some are so draining.

      Delete
  8. Spot on. This is exactly what happens. And I think on social platforms, people brag more. Facebook should now be called brag spot.

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  9. Everything comes with its perils. Virtually, since you have nothing to prove you can boast/exaggerate. This is how nowadays life has become. Sigh!

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    1. Prateek most of us dont wish to talk about our miseries and pain on a social platform. Even if we do, how many virtual friends can help or want to help?

      So FB remains a platform for social niceties and mutual appreciation. True feelings can only be shared in person. Perhaps that is why we have less real friends and more virtual ones.

      Take Care.

      Delete
  10. As long as we are able to realise that it is virtual and not necessarily real, it is fine. But when it begins playing on the mind and creating emotions like depression and melancholy, not to speak of, envy and hatred, it needs to be shut away. I got very quickly disillusioned when I found that only personal updates were getting noticed and then for many, it is just a matter of clicking 'like' for every update. So I have begun going very cautiously there. I prefer the mails and FB messages any day to posting updates.

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    1. Agree....perhaps its worse for impressionable minds. And some adults behave in the most juvenile manner... trust me. A Delhiite friend is always on boasting spree. It has become nauseating.

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  11. Thats why I dont have status messages on my FB page , dont want people to ENVY me .. with all those good things i do , and the fun i have and the awards and this and that .. and did you know about my mention in that ..

    ok ok ok stop getting envious .. I wish the above list is true .. that is the reason i have never had anything ot update :)

    Bikram's

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    1. Oh...how I envy you Bikram...for your compassion, your zindadili, your zest for life, your respect and love for friends, your dedication.....I havent met you, but I know I can count on you.

      No other blogger in blogosphere reads the entire post, comments earnestly and comes back to read the replies.You amaze me.And I salute you for this.

      Delete
    2. aingggggg.. the above coment was to make you smile .. not sing praises of mine :) he hehe But thank you so much for those lovely lovely words ..

      you know Good people see Good in others always .. as you see only good in me .. :) I can be bad tooo :)

      Delete
    3. See, I wasnt wrong...you came back.


      Most, comment for the sake of commenting, but your views are genuine and your effort is earnest. After 2 years of blogging it isnt difficult to make out.
      :)

      Delete
  12. I agree completely with the ideas mentioned in this post. All the status updates and happy family vacation pictures can set off strong bouts of Virtual Envy in others.

    Btw..I mentally critiqued it Alka. Its another stellar post from a blogger I admire and love to read.

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    1. You made my week-end....Thanks Rachna.

      Delete
  13. Gore Vidal was truly an astute genius and he didn't wrap his punches in velvet either. I think fb is half fantasy and half fact. As long as we don't start believing our own wishful tales, it is harmless. It is one forum that I've kept mainly for family and friends.

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    1. I use it to post my articles and read other good ones....I have stopped posting pictures and personal information.

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  14. I for one dont spend much time on FB any more, my status.....????

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    1. Its a good platform to meet other bloggers.

      Delete
  15. Alka,

    A timely post to tell about veracity of status on FB and other social medias. These are good to keep in touch but one has to be careful also when updating. Envy does creep up in almost all of us. One should make efforts to curb it.

    Take care

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    1. For me, its a great platform to post my blogposts and read what others have written.

      Delete
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    hope more people discover your blog because you really know what you’re talking about. Can’t wait to read more from you!
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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for visiting. The kind words mean a lot.

      Delete
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      Delete
  17. True!! It is also a great place for stalking :-)

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  18. Totally agree...
    Very well written. :)

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  19. Very well written, totally true.

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  20. This is so true!! The happening happenings in your Friends' lives should make you feel happy, proud, motivated...? But all you get is a feeling of inadequacy, being left out, sad and gloomy and even depression!!
    I believe FB is now a showing off platform! But one never knows the sad tale behind that happy smile!!
    I had written about this too... you may like to check it out here...
    http://shilpaagarg.blogspot.in/2012/06/facebook-ke-side-effects.html

    Congratulations for the Tangy Pick! :)

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    1. Thank you Shilpa. Glad you agree and appreciate.

      Delete
  21. Just desire to say your article is as amazing. The clarity in your post isj ust excellent and i could assume you’re an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your RSS feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please continue the rewarding work.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hey very cool web site!! Man .. Excellent .. Superb .. I will bookmark your website and take the feeds additionally?I am satisfied to seek out a lot of useful info right here within the publish, we'd like develop extra strategies on this regard, thank you for sharing. . . . . .

    ReplyDelete
  23. Feels good to see this post
    I shall be sharing it on fb. Loved some blog post after so long . Came via blog adda
    I read In a fwd mail :" life Is not about having amazing moments . It's all about making mediocre moments look awesome on fb " I laughed for 10min after reading this . That's what many do

    The check ins with their boy friends every day to a cafe theatre ,even some stall. My god I restricted many and unfriended few
    Ofcourse I too share my blog posts mostly on fb And read others posts like u but I also add pics what I feel r worth adding ...not On a weekend basis though :)but when I see overdosage of updates I lose interest and go for hibernation
    Suppose I went to taj with husband or I saw some amazing movie or wrote or cooked something I definitely use fb as a platform to show off but am always cautious about not bragging / boasting or irritating others . It just doesn't come to me ...but I do brief posts like these at times on fb . For instance what I told in beginning was my status MSG yest :) and I wrote something similar a year back may be . As am on mobile can't find the link!


    Now a silly que ?? How do I post for Tuesday tangy pick by blog adda ?:( pls let me know

    All said and done lovely post alka !

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    1. Thank you dear Afshan.

      What you do is not bragging...there is a very fine line between sharing genuine happiness and boasting. Sometimes a simple happy picture of a friend with her kids and fifty Likes can be upsetting for a friend who is unable to conceive...

      Register with blogadda, sign in, click on the Tangy Tuesday or Spicy Saturday link, a window will open up, paste the link of your post and keep your fingers crossed. If they select your post they will mail you. I find blogadda to be a genuine place where they dont go by the popularity of a blogger but by the content.

      Good Luck. If you wish add me on FB.

      Delete
  24. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  25. oh Thanks!

    I shall try.
    Ya am fed up of being read only if U r popular !!:(
    let me try out submitting. If interested do read my posts.
    Yep shall add U

    ReplyDelete
  26. Bang on! but today being quiet is a warranty of missed opportunities, the frog that croaks the loudest gets his mate. Yes, of course, the boasting sometimes start bordering on narsicsm.

    Do stop by my blog! I'd love your comments & visits!!

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    1. You have so many blogs that I was amazed.. I guess you are a nature lover and travel enthusiast. Good Luck.

      Delete
  27. I just love the title Alka!!!
    Yes, it is the nature of the medium, since Zuckerberg wanted it that way. That was the original thought process behind Facebook when the young billionaire conceived the idea of such a network in his dorm room. Do give a read to 'Facebook Effect' by David Kirkpatrick.
    Would like to share why I stayed away from Facebook. Back in 2008, I belonged to a large 'friend' network on Orkut and we were busy exchanging niceties and achievements as scraps. Then Facebook came and conquered each of my network one by one.
    All my female friends were married with kids then but I was not even seeing anyone! I had left my well-paying job to pursue my passion and was seriously happy. But on Orkut, my friends knowingly as well as unknowingly hurt me with their statements, which I knew would only increase on Facebook. Everyhting took a toll on me - my mother forcing me for an arranged marriage and my friends scraps asking me whether I've lost my mind:)
    Finally, there was nobody left on Orkut - all of them migrated to Facebook and I took a personal call to stay away from it, unless I had some 'happy' news or achievements to share! (Will share more in a post)

    Very well analysed post! BTW, Facebook is now working towards putting a 'Want' button...you can imagine the psychological implications that might have on teens! Thanks for a wonderful read and thanks for giving me post ideas ;)

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story and suggesting the book. Will pick it up.

      FB has also introduced gifting options in the US only...and since the response is overwhelming, they will make it universal. So now there will be more show off, more heartburn and more competition to gift expensive gifts.

      Glad you liked it. It means a lot.

      Delete
  28. Love the analysis!! I have hardly open my Facebook account nowadays...what should one put as one's status update?! My life is definitely not as interesting as jetting off to Hawaii for the weekend or shopping for diamond bracelets and putting up pics of it!!

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    1. Glad you liked it. I use mine to upload my posts and read other posts and interesting links shared by other writer friends....thats it. Sometimes to snoop in on my son..:)

      Delete
  29. I was very pleased to seek out this net-site.I wanted to thanks on your time for this wonderful learn!! I definitely enjoying every little little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you blog post.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I was suggested this web site by way of my cousin. I'm now not positive whether this publish is written by him as nobody else recognise such distinctive about my problem.You are wonderful! Thanks!

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  31. Social Media is a complex phenomenon. Indeed, Facebook has come to occupy as pivotal a place in certain lives as the Original Apple. It has been used with devastating effect for certain characters in J. K. Rowling's latest book The Casual Vacancy. Don't tell me you are not reading it!

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    1. I started reading CV but got bored after a few pages....

      Delete
  32. Fantastically written. A river of fire.
    About social sites when you have Facebook then why blogspot? For me it is the guilt which prompts me to write than anger.

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    1. Glad you liked it...blog-spot is for the entire world and FB is more for close friends....
      Guilt?

      Delete
  33. That was well put. FB status has become status symbol, no one will comment "its not destiny, its what you deserve"

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    1. ha ha..I know no one will write that. Wait till a new technology comes which senses whats in ur mind....now that would be interesting.

      Delete
  34. LOVE this post. Simple as that. I always felt that by adding the "like" button on statuses (remember they didn't have that the first few years?) it ensured that people no longer posted anything even remotely negative because as you mention, then nobody would "like" their status. I also dislike the "like" button in general (although I use it:) because I feel it feeds our insecurities and our need for affirmation that we should rather be trying to free ourselves from. Anyway I feel many conflicting things about FB and have written a few posts about it myself but none this good!!:)

    Well done and thank you for it!

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  35. Thank you dear...glad you echo my thoughts.

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  36. I do wonder what motivates some people to share pictures of every dish they cooked or ate - which fancy restaurant they recently visit, etc. I do love to share on Facebook, but I must confess it's mostly blog related or an issue I feel very strongly about. Fantastic post, Alka!

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  37. Corinne....thank you for spending time. Glad you liked it.

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  38. Superb! Loved it! Hits it on the head!

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