CONNECTED PEOPLE / LONELY LIVES

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CONNECTED PEOPLE / LONELY LIVES

Human communities have been at the core of our existence since the birth of mankind. Zuckerberg is of the opinion that the root cause of the sociopolitical upheavals of our time has been the disintegration of human communities. The fallouts can range from drug abuse to the now well known excesses of the totalitarian regimes. Yuval Noah Harari has brilliantly articulated in his recent book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century; a mix of history, technology and society blended with the uncanny knack of a futurist. The membership in all kinds of groups has come down to a quarter for decades. Facebook promised to rebuilt communities and that his AI enabled engineers would deliver the burden deliberately dumped by the parish priests.

He would create meaningful communities for I billion people was the war cry. Thanks Cambridge Analytica revelation blew the lid off his duplicity. He was harvesting data globally to manipulate elections. If he could just protect our privacy and security of communities building new human communities can be left for another day. We need intimate communities to flourish and not the fake ones. Human beings are adapted to live in small groups max of few dozen people. Even with the thousands of Facebook friends, it would difficult to know more than 150 people, the numbers game notwithstanding. Human beings feel lonely and alienated in the absence of these groups.

The effort of imagined communities to take this space and give the same feeling and energy has not happened. The imagined communities may be the nation or a political party or even a humongous social organization. These organizations cannot provide the humanly expected warm intimacy that one single real sibling or a friend can. Virtual connectedness takes it to a different level. The blankness of virtualness has start seeping in. Nobody knows what is the way out. It’s imaginary even to comment on Zuckerberg’s effort to use Artificial Intelligence for centrally planned social engineering at a global scale.

People not having well meaning intense relationships is one part of the story, even more gruesome part is that people are “estranged from their own bodies, senses and physical environment are likely to feel alienated and disoriented.” Facebook’s business model is based on maximum time online even at the expense of having less time to devote to offline activities. Do we go online only when really necessary.

SOCIAL MEDIA HAS POSITIONED THE SOCIETY AT CROSSROADS.

Sanjay Sahay

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