Information Overload

In the quest to improve business with the help of new, innovative ideas, man has often put the essentials of life on the sidelines. Sometimes what’s new effectively replaces the neglected, but leaves behind an impression of said change. Is it always wise to give in to change? Is it always wise to abandon something robust and strong for something untested, radical? There is no good answer to this question. It cannot be answered unless both the possible choices are examined closely.

What did the early man do for heat before discovering fire? Maybe his body simply produced more heat. Did it? But he wouldn’t care about what he did before there was fire. Fire fulfilled his need – or needs. What happened before fire held no importance. This makes sense too. Why care about something not at all efficient when you have something that fits the job.

Now think about this. If man hadn’t ever discovered fire, he wouldn’t have made it. Imagine a world with only wild, natural fires. Environmentalists of today might have favored that. Man wouldn’t be contributing to ‘Global Warming’. Its needless to write that after the discovery, the use of fire only grew exponentially as years passed. Its been modified is ways that we recognize it in entirely different places and forms – combustion in engines, gas on the stove, burning coal in a train. Nobody thinks about the repetitive contained explosions happening inside their car while driving. Everything has become abstract and hidden from sight.

Throughout time there have been several major changes, that have revolutionized life in even the minutest way. Spoons and forks, clothes, shoes, doors and locks, clocks. These are essentials for life today. Apart from these, there are things that exist solely for our aesthetics and pleasure. Paint on the walls, fabric on the cushions, curtains. We don’t exactly need them to live, but we feel an internal need to have these things. Then there are recreational things like instruments, books, religion, music, movies, and so many other things. Most of life is filled with these things alone. They constitute such a huge part of human existence, that people can even be defined by what the do for recreation.

Basically, since everything else in life like getting an education, having a job, getting married, having kids is normal for most people, the recreational things we do are much more wide in variety and differ from individual to individual. But in recent times, even these activities have become ore common than not among the crowds. The world is becoming a smaller place each day, especially thanks to the internet. People know about things that they wouldn’t normally know about otherwise.

Remember when in the 90’s, kids would turn on the computer just to play a game of pinball? Around the dot-com boom, businesses went online and millions were spent in expanding the reach of the internet. People looked at it like the early nomads looked at fire. Something they didn’t understand, but used anyway for their own benefit. In contrast though, this wasn’t something as simple as fire, and the bubble finally burst, causing huge recession. Clearly, it wasn’t very beneficial. It wasn’t something that could always serve in a time of need, like fire. People were fooled by the shiny new toy.

I guess it could be said that something that makes a huge impact on human life either successfully makes it much easier to live, or it goes down in flames, taking everything with it. We should be careful about what new thing we allow to change our lives.

Its true that the internet is the reason why you are reading this post of mine right now. Yes, the internet can be miraculously informative. But most people don’t use the internet for  gaining productive information. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have become so riveting to human-kind, that the average human spends hours on social media everyday. This is a change that is still taking place. We don’t know what its result will be.

But what we do know is that social media gives you a ton of nonconstructive information, that cannot be used to better humanity. Apparently, it does however help people start businesses that take advantage of the information you provide to produce services that you didn’t even know you needed. If anything, social media helps the few individuals take advantage of the many. All that information about the pages you like, the causes you support, the cuisine you eat, is being used to create businesses, which is one factor contributing to why there are so many start-ups these days.

We are allowing our thoughts to manifest into digital information through even a single click. We allow the internet to show us products, designs, and items that we were happy without anyway, but suddenly feel like we can’t live without them. We are allowing this change to happen. We are being targeted by those few behind the scenes of it all, without being aware of the fact that we are providing the information they need to make a profit off of us. We are being dumbfounded.

Is this a change humanity is willing to make?


The Quality Of Life

The world is a small place. The first time I really paid attention to such a statement was while watching Pirates of the Caribbean. You can imagine how small the world really is if a pirate says it. Yet, it has managed to get much smaller. For me, the size of the world depends on how much more there is for me to see in it, how many more friendly people I can meet. I wonder how other people think of the world.

We all talk about other people, try to imagine what their lives are like, and how they handle situations. Normally, this kind of information is not something you just know about anyone unless you’ve spent a good amount of time with them. Such people would be parents, siblings, grandparents, other family members. I wouldn’t go as far as including friends in this pool. We don’t really know our friends as well as we think we do – after all, we haven’t spent enough time with them. So really, except this small group of people, we just barely have an idea about how others lead their lives.

And that’s a good thing. It helps us maintain the minimum distance required to live in a functioning social environment. You can indulge yourself in another person’s life, involve yourself in their personal affairs. Of course, I wouldn’t invite such intrusiveness into my life. Yet, this is an age in which people find it harder than ever to keep to themselves. I myself have intentionally let out information about my life which I have later come to regret and felt uncomfortable with. I know some things about other people, which also makes me uncomfortable. I would have been much better off without knowing those details, no matter how insignificant they may be.

In this era, anything that you do not keep inside your head is bound to spread. Nothing is private anymore. What you say, do, eat – anything that can be seen, heard or understood by others is no longer within the bounds of your control. Literally, anything you say can and will be used against you.

It has become so easy to stay in touch with someone else. So easy that you can do it while cozily snuggling under the warmth of your blanket. It shouldn’t be so convenient. Unless some minimum amount of effort is put into maintaining contact with a person, it shouldn’t be done. Any individual’s attention is something that needs to be valued. It can’t be earned by just sending a friend request or a few lazy messages. Yet, that is what this world has come to.

So many details that would otherwise stay unnoticed are overt, out in the open. In fact, they are emphasized. I’ve tried to limit the information I have put up on social media, but it doesn’t fail to make me feel insecure anyway. Does anyone else feel that way? Even if some people did (once upon a time), I bet they just killed their conscience and gave in to what is now considered the norm. Sometimes its disconcerting to see humanity lose its essence in this way. If the condition of our race continues to deter, we will end up becoming empty, manner-less shells, lacking chivalry, courtesy and respect. For what is the world without gentle, kind, loving people?

Every time something comes up and reminds us that the quality of our existence is taking a nosedive, Captain Jack Sparrow’s voice will ring in my ears, saying

“The world is still the same. There’s just less in it.”

Why Facebook is bad

I’ve been pretty glued to Facebook for a long time now. Well, like five years tops. It felt pretty exciting at first when I got hooked to it. But slowly, this negativity towards it started working its way up to the surface. Every time I have to log on, a little part of me dies. I hear this voice inside my head screaming “NOOO!” as I toss it into an erupting volcano and use the damn site anyway. Later, the voice turns into an old grumbling person’s, swearing at the fact that I’m still on Facebook, suggesting (that’s a polite word to go here) that I shouldn’t have logged on in the first place. How could I even think of it! outrageous!

And I can’t stop that from happening. I can’t help it. But I don’t feel sad or angry that this happens. I just feel a bit of satisfaction. At least my inner voice is still alive and hasn’t died out because of all the things I’ve witnessed in life. I like that this voice suggests that I break my laptop to pieces and then throw them out the window instead of using it to log on to something as unproductive as “Facebook”. Of course I’m not going to do that. I’m a computer scientist and all my life’s work is on this baby. Phh. You must be thinking “What life’s work? you’re just 20.” Yeah I am just 20! Maybe I should say this after another couple decades so that its legit. Maybe I won’t. Ha.

Anyway, getting back to the point. Facebook is like a drug. Now don’t get the wrong impression – I’ve never done drugs. But I can imagine can’t I? So as far as I know, this is how it works. The sane part of you is at the back of your mind going “Don’t do it, you know its not good for you, right?” And the stupid part of you is all like “Come on! Five more minutes!” and we all know that that five minutes can range from anywhere between an actual five minutes and a full out five hours. I’ve noticed how the site eats up my time. Precious time that I could have spend doing something at least marginally more productive. But instead, I’m on Facebook.. And doing what exactly? Staring at pictures of people I don’t like/don’t know/never seen in my life. How did they land up on my friends list?! Only god knows the answer to that. There I am, checking out their profiles – pictures, statuses, likes, friends.. I don’t need to do this! I don’t need to look at such things. It’s a little bit embarrassing for me to see the outcome of someone I know making a desperate effort to put up the most polished perfect image they can think of on the internet. That used to be something that people only did for job interviews or to impressing their girl’s parents. And all this so that they can make people think they’re worth some value (irrespective of whether they are worth any, mind you.) And if this is what I think about someone I know then don’t get me started on people I’ve never seen in my life (but have found a spot on my friends list).

Suppose I look at the profile of someone I haven’t even spoken to yet. (Am I going to ever speak to him/her?) I’m going to see what they ate last night, who they make out with, how addicted they are to caffeine, whether or not they watched the match last night, what TV shows they watch, whether they listened to that new Maroon 5 album that’s out, do they like the color blue, do they like puppies or don’t they, what did they have for lunch, breakfast, dinner.. I think you get the point. Its a crapload of totally useless information. Enough. Just enough. I can’t think of anything else to say. Because to see so many details about a person that I’m not even going to turn back to look at (and not even going to remember they exist when college is over) is freaky!  Cause if the person comes up in a conversation somewhere ten years down the line, all I’m gonna remember is their drunk photo I saw today. And if you don’t think so, something’s wrong with your head. Go get yourself checked. I mean it, don’t go on reading! Get your head checked by a psychologist or something!

Okay, so assuming our “special” friends have left, lets continue. Putting aside that ten years thing too, it’s pretty disgusting to know what the other person had last night unless you were there having it with them. I don’t wanna know what you eat! It’s probably gotten digested for eight hours and taken a fixed exit from your system already. (I don’t always think that way, but its a valid point.) I don’t wanna know anything extra. Makes me feel sick. Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way, maybe I’m not. But either way, it’s my opinion. And you readers out there throwing all those nasty, offensive comments at your screen can keep doing exactly that.

Coming to the other end of the stick, isn’t it repulsive to know that some random  person somewhere, whose face you don’t even remember seeing around, and don’t have any measurable will to want to see in the future, is sitting right there. With his laptop out in front of him. Maybe he’s got a snack. A couple samosas. And some chai to go with it – who knows! And that person is looking at YOUR Facebook profile right now. At your pictures. Your statuses. Your relationship status. Maybe that embarrassing photo of when you got drunk that night (you should have that taken down.) Plus, everything he hasn’t seen is still waiting in the server rooms in the United States somewhere, to be sent in a combination of 0’s and 1’s to this person’s laptop as soon as he clicks the right link with a tiny movement from his finger. And that is how Facebook works. But remember, YOU are the one who put up all that information about you up there. Voluntarily. Feels like shit right?

Thanks to people like you (which is most people) Facebook is still in business. You log on at maybe seven, just to check if you got any messages. But look! there’s that picture of the person you hate, having the time of their life at somebody else’s wedding! You didn’t even know there was a wedding, dijya. But you open up the album and see those wedding pictures anyway, trying to spot that enemy of yours and cursing at him every time he appears in a snap.

Facebook wants you to want to know what your friends people on you friends list are up to. Are they going to the gym? Have they gone to that party? blah blah.. Now, I know that when someone catches your attention, you tend to think about these kind of questions. Now if I assume that you are not romantically interested in that person, do you really need to know the answers to these questions? I know you want to. But do you need to? Do you? Suppose your want overpowers your need (as it does in most cases, You’re only human.) You decide to spend a little from your wallet on Facebook. (I assume you’re paying for your internet) When you go back home and request that page, rigged with all sorts of information about that person, you get a tsunami of little itty-bitty fragments that have NOTHING at all to do with what you were looking for. And when you get that information, well buddy your brain isn’t going to leave it alone. Ergo, you stereotype. You make a mental image of the person. And as you know, the first impression is the last impression! And don’t whine while reading this “No! I wouldn’t do that! I don’t even know the person in the firs–” just shut it. You do it. And you know you do it. You can lie to me, but you can’t damn lie to yourself. I know you think you’re a huge judge of character sitting there in front of the screen, eyes watering from the glare of it. But let’s talk about that some other time. Don’t want to deviate from the topic, do we?

So the thing is, your mind gets a lot more than it needs. Sometimes it gets more than it can handle at all. And instead of letting it deal with all that stress, save your brain the trouble of processing aaaaaall that. Isn’t it better to not use Facebook instead? Of course, depends on whether you want to be a nosy prick or an e-stalker or whatever, looking at somebody else’s life from the comfort of your sick stalker-y room. But wait, all that information was voluntarily put there so I’m not blaming you completely. That would make another good article maybe.

You must be thinking “Hey! I’m not a prick or stalker!” just how many times have you opened up somebody’s profile and looked at only the exact things you wanted to see and closed that tab when you were done? I thought so. Like it or not, that kinda does make you a stalker. Not full blown stalker, but you’re getting there. Definitely. And I’ll tell you what. Its impossible not to. Because Facebook has become such an in-your-face site, that you simply can not leave a page without seeing all that.

So if you’re thinking to yourself right now that you’ve become such a manner-lacking bag of meat, do what’s good for you. Quit Facebook. I predict it will be a major improvement on at least some of your personal problems like insecurity, inferiority complex.. I could go on forever. Have a great Facebook-free day!