Social Media Show Offs
May 27, 2013
Facebook and the art of emotional exhibitionism.
I recently had an epiphany. None of my emotions, feelings or thoughts are of any significance. When I am sad, I call my friends (poor things) and weep, when I feel affection towards someone I tell them, when I like someone I make it a point to let them know. When I am mad at someone, I tell them off… well actually that’s not true, I just sulk a bit and then forget about it, but that’s not the point.
Of late though, I have realized that these emotions of mine are mere pretenders, watery facsimiles of the real thing.
Like the old tree that falls in the forest, an emotion is of little or no value if kept to oneself (how sad is that?) or expressed to a small handful of close friends. Today, no emotion is true until it has been expressed with 4 exclamation points and 3 emoticons on Facebook. While Hallmark offered its honey-glazed sentiments ready to consume, FB is a DIY forum for you to let loose upon the world your brand of emotion.
And this is interesting in a country that used to until 20 years ago preferred to see its emotions in Eastman colour and heaving chests on the screen- preferably expressed by Mohammed Rafi or Lata Mangeshkar. At home, we would rather have slit our collective throats before telling our kids we errmmmm loved them.
And this goes along with another very common Indian trait that FB has allowed us to jettison – our superstitions around good luck –touch wood. Don’t brag too much, don’t get too happy and so on. Somehow, the fact that we are all packed so tightly into this bandwagon seems to have squeezed that fear out of the window. Since everyone’s bragging about their children, it should be ok.
And at a personal level, clearly, sending out this gooey, glutinous stuff out to hundreds or thousands of faceless people is less threatening than sitting one slightly bewildered child on a knee and telling him you love him or saying that to your puzzled parents.
So what we have is this - the collective unexpressed, repressed love, pride, joy, happiness of the last few centuries now flooding FB with regularity. Here for your benefit is my analysis of the nuances of the emotions we see on FB.
Glutinous Emotion - Mothers – have never been more doting of children, more proud of them or more happy to have carried them for 9 painful months
Gruff Emotion - Fathers – have never gruffly been so proud of their offspring, now in Stanford ( take that - guy from school who friended me last week)
Smarmy Emotion: Kids have never thanked mothers more extravagantly and embarrassingly for their love and support – for being the great mothers they are and have been and will always be for they are always such wonderful people … at some point everyone gets lost.
Birthday Emotion Children are thanked profusely for having birthdays before being congratulated, blessed etc. No detail is too minute or personal, no thought must be left unexpressed. I find it particularly charming when one and two year olds are heartily congratulated for having negotiated their ways through the pitfalls of year one and two (thanks for not crashing the car).
Corporate Emotion – Colleagues and bosses are thanked profusely for their collective support and creativity and affection. This must be accompanied by a group photo of suitable corporate silliness.
Marital Emotions : Husbands and wives thanking each other everyday for their sheer awesomeness. Congratulating each other on anniversaries and pledging everlasting love.
I miss the old days. When my dad felt a surge of affection, he’d buy me a bar of Cadbury’s chocolate (the narrow, purple and silver foil one) and that was it. Nuff said.