The myth of thumbs and hearts

31 Jan 2019


I REMEMBER watching a few years ago a documentary which explained a theory saying that humans have anatomically evolved from fish. Yes, fish. For some reason I felt disgusted back then, but in the last year or so I have often thought that maybe there is some truth in that theory. The pout-and-click culture is what has changed my stance. In case you are living under a rock and don’t yet know what a ‘selfie pout’ is, it is an act of borderline crazy where you puff up and curl your lips out in an attempt to look good and what-not in a photograph taken essentially by yourself while completely ignoring the efforts of the viewers who when come across your post have to fight a huge urge to smash their phones on the wall every time. No matter how much they are made fun of, pouts and selfies have taken over the whole social media for some time – even LinkedIn!

That is just sad if you ask me. When I was a kid, my social network was called ‘outside’. If I, for a moment, ignore the popular conspiracy theories, social media was designed to let people know what we were doing but it has turned the other way around unfortunately. Now we do things to let people know. The Generation-Y, don’t know why, has a bottomless thirst for social media acceptance. Having your friends on social media is not enough anymore.

After all, what’s the point of being happy if you are not going to post it? People used to travel and post photos on their social media profiles. Now they are saving money for months to travel so they can post photos. If you are going somewhere interesting or somewhere at all, you are required to post a photo online as an evidence of your ‘awesome’ experience or else the world will think it didn’t happen. I wonder if people get together with their friends because they missed being with them anymore, or they just want to take pictures to show the world that they are having such a good time with friends or they actually do have some real friends at least. This is getting seriously insane.

We have given a completely superficial connotation to the term ‘being liked’. It is all about how often your social media buddies ‘like’ whatever you do or appear to do. We are so consumed by these numbers that not only we channelize our efforts into doing things we think people on social media will like, but sometimes we even go as far as to skip the uncertainty and outright ask people to ‘like’ our posts. Don’t tell me you never received a message from an unnerved friend of yours complaining that you haven’t already ‘liked’ his picture with that obnoxious cat of his. People even question religious beliefs in certain posts if you don’t ‘like’ them. They can offer you a guaranteed place in the heaven themselves if you ‘like’ their post and may be throw in a few more heavenly luxuries if you make a couple of your friends ‘like’ it too. I am planning to soon create an account with the name ‘Nobody’. So, when someone posts something stupid to hoard ‘likes’ they can see that ‘Nobody likes this!’

The thing to remember in terms of online behaviour is that people tend to share their best moments and skip the messy ones.

Social media has empowered us to ‘like’ everything people do even when we don’t actually like them at all. That is some empowerment! We may soon have to ‘like’ people themselves rather than their antics. I don’t want to receive a message from someone complaining that I don’t ‘like’ him on the social media, because in truth I don’t like most of them in real life.

One of the tangible proofs of this culture of fake ‘liking’ can easily be witnessed when one of the famed Facebook pages post a video and get 300 likes in three minutes when the video itself is 20 minutes long. That is how phony this whole game of ‘liking’ things is. Between the number of thumbs on Facebook and hearts on Instagram, we have become virtually obsessed with gathering public approval over the internet.

When people get married these days, the grand announcement on the social media seems to be more important than the actual event itself. First, dates must be announced with pictures of the ‘great-looking’ partner. Photos taken during the events are more significant to show your friends how cute is your spouse-to-be, instead of focussing on the quality and personality of the person you are getting married to. Single people begin to feel bitter about their own hopeless lives seeing romantic couples on their newsfeed because it is a deliberate and constant reminder that they haven’t found someone yet while everyone on Facebook are having their apparently perfect relationships.

It’s quite easy to forget that people only post their best moments online and prefer to hide away the worst ones; even the messy ones. If rather than those royal wedding arrangements and their hugging photos with Khaala, their Facebook wall featured wedding arrangement bills and a video of how their Khaala created a scene because she didn’t like, say, the biryani, single people will never cuss their lives.

When it sets off like this, it obviously trickles down in the married life of the couple. It appears that the strength of your relationship is arbitrated by how many pictures you post with your special someone, how chummy you are in those photos and how romantic your words are in the photo descriptions.

Don’t let this social media madness fool you, folks. There are a lot of people who hardly have any ‘likes’ on their pictures, but they still have plenty of friends in real life. There are couples I know who hardly ever upload romantic photos, they rarely or may be never post sugar-coated nothings to market their love on their statuses, but they are actually happier than the ones you see very frequently in your newsfeeds.