Friday, January 6, 2017

What crappy 2016 taught this

1) We live in a digital bubble

Our friends on social media are similar to us, their friends are similar to them and thus making our immediate and extended social circle in the digital world not too different from us. Thus we believe what is being shared, liked, discussed on our Facebook posts and Twitter feeds to be the way the rest of the world should think, worse behave. Hence Trump winning the elections came as a shock to so many of us. We voiced our support for Hillary unequivocally, expressed aghast on Trump's opinions loudly and rallied our views on social media (without any voting power whatsoever) truly believing it would make a difference. 

We forgot to look at the real world i.e. 90% of people who live outside our digital bubble whose issues are different from ours, whose views are radically apart, the ones who voted Trump to power. We could not fathom this turn of events and many of us are still reeling from the after shocks.

We all need to understand that there is a world outside the digital bubble we've built for ourselves and our friends and their friend's friends don't make up the all of the real world. 

2) Sharing on social does jackshit

Changing your profile picture to represent LBGT colors, adding the national flag to your DP, posting and re-posting pictures and news articles about Paris attacks and Syrian refugees does not make you an instrument of change. You are a sympathetic observer at best, an armchair activist at worst. 

I am not dissing social media or its users. I am leveraging it too to share my views. But time comes when we need to step up to take action and move out of the Facebook walls. 

What did any of us actually DO to affect change on miseries that 2016 bought on the world? Jackshit! 

Instead of having our fingers fly on our keyboard to lambaste the next atrocity, we can keep away our devices and using our hands and heads to affect change. It can be as simple as volunteering at a soup kitchen or a random act of kindness towards a stranger. Hell, start by being kinder to the Uber the driver who turns up late or show more compassion to your household help.

3) Believing everything we read on our smart phones is not smart

For any world event from Brexit in Europe to Demonitization in India, there are not only several views, but multiple 'facts'. It's almost impossible to distinguish what is accurate and what is misrepresentation. 

The problem of 'fake news' is ironically real and even Mark Zuckerberg is finding it hard to deal with it. Fake news leads to real profits. And these fake new sites stand a chance to make lots of money by providing false information and using channels like Facebook to make it go viral. While both Facebook and Google have taken steps to block many such sites, there are still several corrective measures needed before this issue goes away. 

So next time you want to forward that video, post that saucy news article, stop and have a think. Who exactly is benefiting from your this? Besides making you sound like a pseudo intellectual and providing social currency to trade for likes and comments, you are really doing anything.

4) We live in terrible times

Which show no signs of abating. Why would anyone drive a truck through a Christmas market in Berlin? Or open fire in a night club in Orlando? What sick perverse people and organizations think and act in such heinous manner? I cannot for the life of me understand. But what is clear is that this is the world we are living in. And while we can't change things at a macro level and find solutions to Syrian refuge crisis or ISIS, we can do much more on a micro level.

We can exhibit more tolerance. Tolerance towards to people who look different from us, who talk a strange language, who pray to different God. We need to start seeing more oneness in each other irrespective of race, religion, color, caste or what us urban elite are usually guilty of, class. 

We can teach our children to rise above these differences, to stand up to any form of bullying, to become color blind, religion agnostic and class tolerant. We need to deliberately curb any ill feelings while having an open conversation with our kids, so they are better prepared to face the challenging times we live in today.

5) We gotta have faith, faith , faith

In the eternal words (though taken a bit out of context here) of the legendary George Michael who 2016 took from us along with several other stalwarts, we gotta have faith.

Faith that despite the craziness around us, we can still rely on each other. Isn't the sharing economy of Airbnb stays and Uber pool rides testament to that?  

Faith that we all can modify a bit if not change completely in these trying times. 

Faith that we are just one tiny spoke in the hub and we need to each do our part to keep things moving.

Faith that there is a beautiful world outside social media which we need to relate to more. With that am getting off my iPad and heading out for a morning walk.

Happy new year folks! 

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