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04-09-2012published_dt 2012-09-04T00:00:00.000Z04-09-2012 05:30:00 IST
Updated On 02-11-2018 16:35:40 ISTmodified_dt 2018-11-02T11:05:40.539ZUpdated On 02-11-20182012-09-04T00:00:00.000Z04-09-2012 2012-09-04T00:00:00.000Z - 2018-11-02T11:05:40.539Z - 02-11-2018

I do not know how many people are suffering from this. And I have no idea about how many people are even aware that they are in this peculiar trap. This is a menace. A disease. A disorder. And an affliction.

It is probably more debilitating than crack. It can turn one into a zombie. In a different way, though.

This is a novel disorder. As soon as you see, hear, read, feel, watch, and come to know something, you experience a strong, irrepressible desire to post it on Facebook, tweet it, upload, or share it on some social networking site or the other, or at least forward it as an e-mail.

Earlier, folks used to think of their near and dear when they saw or heard something interesting. They would imagine that they were reporting it to them. Telling them. They shared it in a mental conversation much before they actually shared it. They would think of their spouses, boy/girl friends, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and of course their other dear friends.

It is said that the person with whom you share your experiences in an imaginary conversation, is the closest to your heart.

But that’s no longer the case.

That’s past. And as the British novelist L P Hartley famously said, ‘the past is a foreign country, and they do things differently there’.

Now, in our new virtual country the minute people look at something, they want to tweet, post it on Facebook, mail it or upload a picture of it to some social network. Much before they finish reading something, they feel the terrible itch to share it.

Even worse things follow.

The minute they shared it, they would like to know who, and, how many retweeted it, favourited it, shared it, liked it, commented on it. Their post’s worth inescapably is ratified by all these things that other, perhaps similar, people do. Somewhere at the back of their mind the connection between how the post was received and how good their day was are mixed up. Whether they were winners or losers on that day is decided by it. This sort of certification gradually begins to assume enormous importance. It grows, remorselessly. They feel nice if it is received well: that is, if it is retweeted, favourited, liked, commented and shared. If it is not, it nags them. Nobody else might know that it is nagging them. But they know it, that it is bothering them. It raises question about their self-worth in their minds.

It leads to status anxiety. It creeps on them without them really noticing it.

They would even begin to research why someone else’s post, although not as clever, has got so much more attention than theirs. Their minds calculate, compare, contrast, and conclude one way or the other. They arrive at some solution to improve the attention rate.

They resolve to improve the posts. That resolve happens in the background. Quietly. Their next post automatically gets designed to get maximum attention.

A friend of mine confided in me a few days ago that when she woke up in the middle of the night to go to loo, it was very difficult for her not to check what happened to her post; whether someone retweeted, posted, favourited …. and all that. What after all is the fate of her post??? That was the dominant question in her mind. Even when the rest of her was asleep, the tiny part of her mind which keeps the vigil was alert to it.

One is likely to worry more about the fate of their post than about their child’s grades, parents’ health, or even their own career progression.

This is no ordinary disorder.

Tweet it if you share these views. Tell your friends to retweet it so that their friends’ friends will also know. Hit ‘like’ if you agree with this. And share it. Forward it. Post it. Mail it.

Of course, I won’t be keeping a watch whether you do it or not. I assure you.