By Fayezah Iqbal
There are a lot of accounts that people open these days, but not in the banks. Instead, they open these accounts to partake of the bustling virtual world and its inexhaustible activities on the social media and numerous Apps. Without any undue intrigue, I prefer to start with myself as I had also jumped on to this bandwagon long ago. My motives for joining social media range anywhere from staying ahead in sprucing up my knowledge of the whereabouts of the world, to acquainting myself with umpteen avenues of interests and new hobbies it has on offer.
To begin with, WhatsApp continues to be on my ‘high priority list’, despite the recent raging movement against supposed threats to security and privacy by the new rules. Many users started moving to Signal for secure online conversations and, consequently, I got both the Apps on my phone. Not many obeyed the Signal, though.
Facebook is still my go to haven in times of fullness or emptiness, on days of productivity or unproductivity. Talking of other social media platforms, I am barely present on Twitter and hardly ever tweet, retweet, chirp or even hop there, as brevity is the soul of wit and it is difficult to master. So, I rather like the vast terrain of Facebook.
This is how a typical day unfolded for me recently while trying to juggle between various indispensable social media platforms, Apps, and my physical surroundings. I opened the Gmail to check and revert to emails regarding my complaint about negligent service at the bank. The first e-mail in the inbox was about reworking the article I had sent to an e-magazine and making it more coherent. As I began to go through the suggestions attentively to improve my write-up, I was interrupted by the yelling of the postman at the gate to receive the monthly subscribed print magazine. I held the magazine with delight and flipped the pages to finally find my poem published in this edition. I was filled with a rare, unmatched, and instinctive joy of the pre digital era. I grew nostalgic and thoughtful. Before I could immerse myself in the joy, I was distracted by the beep of notification about a comment on my week-old ‘deep and enlightening’ post on Facebook! I opened the comment to see a forgotten acquaintance’s comment, “Send me your number.”
Further, I glossed over those strategically master-planned red pop-ups of four notifications on the bell icon of Facebook and it grabbed my remaining attention. I opened them half-heartedly to find to my utter dismay an invitation for liking a newly inaugurated Online Computer classes page, another one reminding me about my seven-year-old friendship with a friend I had never met or known personally but accepted as friend for being a mutual friend with five of my friends on Facebook. Phew! Thanks to the glory of digital-modern-global-delusional world.
But few moments later, my phone rang, and I hurriedly answered the call. I learnt that a schoolmate and a dear friend wanted to come over and meet me. It lightened up my mood instantly, throwing me in action to prepare for her welcome.
But not before I had finished checking the third notification, which informed me about a page of ‘Home Decor and Interior’ that I had liked had changed its name. The fourth notification asked me to share a story in the ‘Stories’, as I had earlier shared a slew of stories.
As I scrolled down the home page of my Facebook account, I also came across the devious and glaring ads from Amazon of cups and saucer sets, stencil art, paint roller, cushion covers, gardening grow bags, accompanied by research methodology books, Eating in the Age of Dieting by Rujuta Diwekar, and handmade diaries. It made me guilty of purposeless and wasteful visit to Amazon. At the same time, it made me feel good by showcasing my wholesome and eclectic wish list of products.
But the sudden realisation of the creepy and thorough inspection tracking my every minute pursuit on the internet bothered me. I continued nonetheless, having been immune to ‘challenges’ both in real and unreal life. Thus, I drifted to the short videos showing the once social media sensation ‘Noel Hopkins’ Batman did it.’ It took me to further watch dozens of similar videos on YouTube and I ended up subscribing to ‘Little Big Shots’.
As I continued jumping from one branch of social media to another, looking for updates, news, authentic news, memes, two-liners, sarcasm, motivating quotes, notifications and reactions, the sound of the dropping milk pot and the spilled milk by the bold and unreluctant cat in the other corner of the house yanked me out of virtual reverie. It made me reject momentarily the addictive and insipid indulgence in the virtual world. I fully felt the bustling clamour of the physical world, with the Sun casting its heat on us and generously warming up and offsetting the wintry lethargy.
I realised that the branches I was clinging on to are still caged in the box of my Android and I was undergoing virtual rigorous imprisonment. Despite my earnest efforts, I am not yet living out of the box! While the once vulnerable house sparrow of my good old childhood days came fluttering free and alive, tweeting in sync with my caller tune, the real tweet’s melody and sweetness won hands down against the human-enabled machine operated ringtone. The bird looked me in the eye and wobbly balanced itself against the string tied to the walls. It signalled its importance by incessant and shrill chirps, “What’s up? Anything to eat?”
Fayezah Iqbal is currently pursuing Ph.D. from Patna University. She completed Masters in Spanish from JNU, New Delhi. In her research, she is interested in exploring the lesser revealed aspects of history through the lens of historical fiction that could open avenues for reconsidering and rethinking about the current politico-social narratives. She has been contributing articles regularly to magazines, both print and online.
Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, born in New York City and currently based in India. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.
Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine, “Pandemics/Epidemics and Literature”, edited by Nishi Pulugurtha, Kolkata, India.