Over-exposure – killing life as we know it?
How much is too much? I often ask myself this question. So much so that I haven’t been able to contain this in my overworked, under-nourished head and have leaked it out and asked people around. How much is too much – in multiple contexts – too much money, too much food, too much information, too much entertainment, too many possessions, too many hopes, too many expectations? Wasn’t life simpler with fewer options, few close-knit friends, preserved innocence, a lot more warmth and a sense of security and insulation? There just seems no end to how much one wants, desires, craves for, lusts for and wishes to hoard, whether or not it is of any utility or consequence to him/her.
In the quest of finishing on top, coming first, eating the bigger piece of the pie and simply being seen, we are losing touch with reality, becoming fiercely competitive, sacrificing substance for form, not distinguishing right from wrong, black from white, real from fake and just consuming all we are served, how much ever we are served and whatever we are served. Whether it is the steadily declining quality of food we ingest into our systems, the obscure sources of income we create, the information we come across or the thoughts we let enter our minds.
What particularly gets to my mind and is the core driver behind this blog is the amount of information, or actually let’s call it what it really is – the amount of garbage that we as a species are gulping down our systems through audio-visual mediums without ever thinking to step back and think twice, analyse, scrutinize and thereby legitimize. If it’s come up on a screen and is well edited, oh, of course it must be true. If a certain influential person has said it, how dare one question the authenticity, legitimacy, source or soundness of that statement? If it has come in the form of a video that has been shared multiple times, it certainly has to be the real deal. Or worse, if its shown on the news, portrayed or conveyed in films, shows, OTT content it is bound to be God’s word. If you thought that was it, wait till you come across the protagonist behind this outcome – social media and the ill-advised use of the same. Whether the Twitter tirade or the WhatsApp University, the Facebook Fandoms or the Instagram Instigators, each of these group phenomenons have contributed significantly to the rapid growth of information explosion, excessive content consumption, polarizing views and opinions generation and mindless acceptance of data over facts, solely in the thirst for and addiction of new, updated, latest, breaking, hot and fresh information to quench the void within.
Without getting into specific examples or instances to avoid getting into tangents or risk losing track of the conversation, it will suffice to say that there have been innumerable accounts of fake news, rumours and hearsay being spread around as if they were backed with some empirical evidence.
There are numerous stereotypical debates over the new generation spending a lot of time online or questioning everything under the sun and not taking things lying down. However, there are no eyebrows raised when the same generations questioning this behaviour spends hours on end watching their choice of polarizing figure deliver speech after speech – some filled with sexism, others with blasphemy, some with subtle innuendos while others with outright brashness. In addition to these speeches even the choice of other content consumed is not just old-school, but outdated, regressive, at times manipulative and in poor taste. Yes, each one has the freedom to choose what they wish to say, hear, watch, but when the sum total of all these poor choices, especially made by the senior clout of the society has a net negative impact on them, their surroundings, kids of an impressionable age, thereby halting the evolution or progress to a greater level of humanity, it is dangerous.
WhatsApp University as we call it in jest wherein senior generations partake in, absorb and swear by anything and everything they come across on their mobile phones, has not just led to the spread of incorrect information, but also aided in spreading triggering information consciously to influence and sway people’s minds. This is incredibly powerful as it gets used against economic backdrops, political views, sexuality, religion, caste, creed, colour and more. Just like any other virus which not treated in time, these portions consumed take over the entire system, infect the entire mindset and start affecting inter-personal relationships. The dopamine hits on coming across similar content that agrees and further cements these new beliefs keep the addiction ongoing and any attempts by well-wishers or well-meaning people around you, fall short to get you out of this sinking sand, making you a lost cause, constantly negative, constantly unhappy, extremely agitated, extremely annoyed.
We are increasingly becoming individualistic, self-centered, self-sufficient, but in a very different context. The best of literatures often ask us to look within, introspect, be more comfortable with ourselves, but this is not what they meant to teach us. Mobile screens are more amusing to us now than people’s real and true expressions. Facetime is taking precedence over time spent with real faces around us. Knowing about a greater number of things superficially is becoming the way to go rather than learning about fewer things more meaningfully and getting to the depths of it.
That was about the information we are taking in, however this pattern is something that can be observed in any and every aspect of or lives really these days. Think about food – how our palettes have changed, how our consumption patterns have changed, we just don’t want a wider variety, but much larger portions, more for the price of less, more discounts, additional accompaniments, free dishes, vouchers and more! Think about fashion, how much more do we shop now that we have access to a zillion vendors through a plethora of shopping apps and websites, leading to an actual concept called ‘fast fashion’, wherein you buy way too many clothes, wear it once, wear it twice and never see it again, with not a thought spared for the blood, tears and sweat some poor kid would be shedding in a sweat shop in some obscure part of the world. Think about money and other materialistic possessions that come with having money. While pursuing comfort, peace of mind, adopting luxury isn’t wrong, but when we heedlessly just run after it at any cost and then to consider this at scale with millions of people doing the same, we have some serious, irreversible problems at hand.
While we snobbishly go around tom-tomming jargons about CSR, ESG, Sustainability, Mindfulness, we are losing our minds like headless chicken, losing touch with reality, humanity, our sensitivities, ruining relationships, wasting resources and making an epic waste of this gift called ‘life.’ Things were indeed simpler, when less was more, when one needed to make an effort to get what they want and not have it airdropped right in the palm of their hand. The world was kinder, relationships were deeper, days were happier and nights calmer…unfortunately not the same anymore, not by a mile. I for one have lost people to these addictions, whether to polarized opinions and never coming back to their senses, to mindless screen time and losing sense of reality, reckless shopping and thereby getting sucked into the vicious web of addiction and lastly to endless thirst for money, because there can never be enough, can there? Think about it, have you lost someone you know this way or know someone you might?