Millennium Post

From the real to the virtual

A recent survey in UK has shown that nearly one third of the youth in the country feel depressed by something that they have read on social media. Also 39 per cent of those aged between 16 to 25 are friends online with those they have never met, while the figure rose to 46 per cent for those aged between 16 to 18. Figures may vary, but the trend will be similar across the globe, including in India. Which is worrying, for youngsters and young adults are increasingly withdrawing from the real world to the virtual space. Fight with siblings or parents, rebukes from teachers or a bad day at work, all’s forgotten in the exciting engagement of finding new friends.

The physical detachment helps. And sometimes you are almost anonymous, have a different name, put up a random picture. Some things are easier to express to strangers you will never meet than the person who sits next to you in college everyday. And you can be the person you always wanted to be, but lacked confidence to in the real world.

So you can be witty or charming, flirt a little, or talk downright dirty. After all, what happens on Facebook (or Twitter or some such networking site), remains there.

Or so you think. But what starts with a casual conversation, with every intention of restricting itself to the online portal often spills over to the real world. Take the example of the young girl who was persuaded by an online friend to meet him on New Year’s eve in the capital and subsequently raped by him and his friend.

Such incidences of breach of trust and crime that stems from online communication are by no means rare. Even when such extreme mishaps are avoided, preoccupation with the virtual world, leads to a unhealthy withdrawal from the people and happenings around one and often result  in a behavioural or communicational disorder.

No, that doesn’t mean that you have to delete your Facebook or Twitter account right away. Social media is a good way of bridging the distance and keeping in touch with friends and family.

The important thing is to learn to strike a balance between the real and the virtual. Spend time with those around you, talk to them. Visit the mall, rather than ordering online all the time. And when making new friends, employ the same rule you do in the physical world, know before you trust enough to share, more so, because you can’t really see the face behind the chat id.
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