I've just finished social stalking someone I went to high school with. I've read his detailed documentation of the hours leading up to the birth of her first child in the form of Facebook status updates. This is the digital age after all. The computerisation of all information, which includes our experiences, thoughts, feelings no matter how relevant or irrelevant, are documented in megabytes and pixels. Swipe, click, scroll - information is there on our literal fingertips. Everything and everyone is readily available. Maybe too available.
WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, the list is endless. All of us are connected to each other somehow, in some way. We are watching each other while being watched by each other almost 24 hours a day. It's never been easier to creep on other people. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining for the most part. I am not, by any means, a social media snob and I am as much of a social stalker as the next person. I'm never too busy to post a photo, to monitor how many likes I'm getting or to think about possible future posts. However, a quote by our old friend, philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca seems apt to mention in this instance. It is quality rather than quantity that matters. Ironically that would make for a good status update on Facebook. My point is, just because the platform is available for us to utilise, it doesn't mean the whole world needs to know what I had for breakfast, what my pet peeves are, or whether or not my child, hours away from being born, will look like me or my wife.
Social media is also the fastest evolving form of entertainment, vanity and communication there is. Stalking sensibilities are getting more advanced with each new app update. WhatsApp's last update gave us the knowledge of seeing not only when someone has received our messages but whether they have actually opened the message and read it. Constantly being questioned as to why I'm not replying the instant I read a message has become increasingly frustrating. One of the advantages of communicating through the written word means that there is no pressure to answer as soon as one gets a message. However what I view as common sense is breaking some digital age 'netiquette' and branded me an unreliable communicator in the digital sense. I simply don't understand why always being connected has been translated into always being available.
Whether you're a Facebook fiend, Snapchat snob, Twitter tease, Instagram influencer or a WhatsApp weirdo my advice is simple. Take it easy. Think about the value of what you're posting more than how often you are posting it. And, let's not forget people, the truth of the matter is (and I speak from experience) no one actually cares about what your posting as much as you.
By Maan Jalal
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