World Wide Web – (Not) Bringing People Closer

Most of my friends are from my college life. After college, all went their separate ways. Everyone is getting married, some already have. The first marriage invitation I got was from someone whom I’ve known since class 2, who had gone to same college as mine and was my room mate. She sent an e-invitation i.e. a scanned copy of her marriage’s invitation card. After that, many such electronic invitations from different friends followed. Aarghhh!

internet_explorer“The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” So said Mr.Bill Gates. Through Internet, one is able to befriend people with similar tastes,ideas,thoughts and personalities, chat with them and form strong and sometimes everlasting relations. Some just add up people arbitrarily. People living abroad are able to talk and see their family back home with the help of webcams and Internet. Communication has become lot faster and easier with the help of e-mail. In short, the technology is bringing people and families closer as suggested by the Pew Internet and American Life Project research findings.

But as far as I’m observing, it is doing just the opposite! Friends and acquaintances send you an e-invitation and think their duty of completing the formality is over. They don’t even bother to make one call, to give it a little bit of personal touch. I guess people have slowly stopped believing in giving a personal touch in marriage invitations. They are online on Google talk but still don’t ping you to say the customary words ” You have to come to my wedding” for formality’s sake at least. Of course if they have something to brag about they would surely remember you as Xylene writes in his post. If you are that busy then don’t be online! Not with the green button at least! The height of this trend of e-invitations was when one of my friends asked me “is it ok with you if I send you my marriage invitation on e-mail?’ What was I supposed to reply? The mere query shows your choice, my friend. I suppose saving so much paper and stamps is good for the environment and I should not raise such a hullabaloo but I like it when I get a marriage invitation card with little turmeric on the corner. Even if you do send an e-invitation, at least have the courtesy to call up and invite once more on phone!

Orkut’s initial charm for me was that I found many school and college mates there. It was wonderful gettingorkut_icons back in touch. The people with whom I had regular contact were also added in my friend list. At every occasion and birthday (thanks to Orkut reminder), I used to wish them. This year I decided to sit quiet and see how many of them wish me. I wished only colleagues, close friends and blogger friends on Diwali via e-mail and sms. Sigh! It was very disappointing especially when I know Orkut must have reminded them of my birthday and I can see them being regular on Orkut. Same with Dusshera and Diwali. Even some of the people I’d wished on Diwali didn’t reply back! Now I’m led to believe that the Indian tradition of wishing each other on festivals, being all courteous and inviting people with warmth is slowly dying in this age of Internet technology. How sad is that! Internet was supposed to bring people closer and make communication easier.

There was a time when people opposed to the online revolution had declared Internet as a threat to society, sure to split families, fracture friendships and turn users into computer crazed geeks. And I’m afraid to say they were right. Some might say that I mind all these courtesies and formalities too much but thats the way I am. Moreover, I know it is not totally World Wide Web’s fault. The people are at fault too for not being pro-active in nurturing relations and friendships in the first place.

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41 thoughts on “World Wide Web – (Not) Bringing People Closer

  1. Internet has made networking easy but essentially not communication. The courtesies and the greetings reflect upon communication skill which albeit the medium have failed to improve. In the times of busy lives, etiquette is changing and what has replaced the old school is not guided by personal memory but sadly ruled by who’s on the list!!

    Reema: Welcome to my blog! One would think that easy networking will increase social etiquette but its doing the opposite. Even being on the list is not helping. What is lacking is the personal touch. Keep visiting!

  2. As yo always say and i believe in it firmly too, “If you want to do something you take out time for that for sure”

    So why blame only internet? Its the people’s wish to be in touch or not. There are always some communication etiquttes and that applies to WWW also…

    But don’t take things so seriously yaar! 🙂

    Take care..

    Reema: Yeah! My point is that Internet is supposed to make it all easier but its making people lazier!

  3. Moreover, I know it is not totally World Wide Web’s fault. The people are at fault too for not being pro-active in nurturing relations and friendships in the first place.

    You got lucky by including this, i wanted to protest for blaming the internet and Web 2.0 for behavior of your so called friends.. 🙂

    It’s true, people don’t seem to consider inviting personally is all that important. It’s a change in the attitude of people.. though to some extent the hand of www is there, it’s not right to hold only that responsible…
    Few years ago, someone might have complained for not inviting them personally.. He just gave a call.. can you believe that?! He didn’t come to my home to invite me! Just sent a post (snail mail), and called!

    It’s called ‘generation gap’ Reems. 😛 Stay young. 😉

    I want to share how www communities has helped me in connecting with strangers, with similar interests. I’ve gone to many photography trips with people i didn’t even know.. apart from net and online communities. Few mails, one or two phone calls and i’m there with them for 1/2day trips! and we are equally comfortable..
    If i invite my friends whom i’ve know over years for some trip, they are like.. ‘what there? you just want to capture pics.. so inviting us.. it’ll be boring etc etc..

    Reema: Well u know the people I’m talking about, in your words my so called friends, are of my age only so there is no question of generation gap or staying young for that matter. With the availability of easier,faster and better ways of communication, people are becoming more lazy and are forgetting the personal touch. As for www communities helping oneself, I too have been blessed with some very important persons through internet and of course friends like Suda, Sakhi, Vimal and Nikhil!

  4. My guess is the overload of obligation to SO So many people.
    We just know them, i.e. they are mere accquintances. But have absolutely no impact in our lives, good or bad. In real world, before internet, woh saamne aaye, toh haas-bole liye, chalegaye. Dimaag mein basana jaroori nahin tha. That way internet has erased those boundaries among others. And etiquette are constantly changing, not always for bad.

    Reema: Well as I say we always find time to do what we want to do.

  5. I believe ambient intimacy is the term used for what the ‘social web’ (or web 2.0) is good at.

    It’s indeed a pity that a lot of users mistake this kind of intimacy for the real thing.

    Reema: Nice link! Its indeed a pity.

  6. @ Reema

    Effectively in this post, you are blaming the postman for not bringing you any letters. 😉 What about those from whom you expect letters but who never care to write? The internet is a medium nothing more. What people make of it is essentially up to them. The medium is not the behaviour and the behaviour isn’t the medium’s fault. You disagree?

    Reema: “You disagree?” Do I dare to? 😛 Jokes apart, a knife is a tool but it depends on the user how he uses it…for the purpose it was designed for or for something on the contrary. Similarly I have ranted about the tool called Internet which people due to their inherent characteristics, are misusing to create gap instead of filling it. I don’t think I m blaming the Internet wholly because if u see my post, I have written “Moreover, I know it is not totally World Wide Web’s fault. The people are at fault too for not being pro-active in nurturing relations and friendships in the first place.” So basically my post is about how the tool is being used nowadays for all the wrong purposes. The only role Internet is playing is to let people exhibit these innate traits without hesitation.

  7. A technology/science is Boon or bane, depends on the person using it.

    You should not held tech/sci responsible for (not)bringing people closer.

    In way too much time on computer does make you socialize less, but then it is your choice to sit in front of computer or not.

    Reema: Yes of course the people are to be blamed the most.

  8. Most friends I have noticed that if they mean the e-invitation as a genuine invitation, they always drop a mail or pick up the phone and make a call to ensure that you are coming.

    Else I just consider it more of an announcement rather than an invitation.

    Reema: Good thinking! from now I will also follow the same rule.

  9. I hate e-invitations. It is definitely the people who need to take the blame and not the world wide web. It has just made the communication easier. If a person does not want to waste money on a phone call he or she can at least do a voice chat and invite. I second your opinion.

    Reema: Yes thats what..people are not ready to do even a little bit of extra effort!

  10. I am very much for e-vites. Save money, environment. It is not the fault of the internet. It definitely is that of those “friends”. Thankfully, there were too few occurrences of such incidents – sending an evite & not calling or not even sending an evite.
    There are times when I have got the traditional invite (come home, give the invitation with the turmeric, get my parents blessings et al), the evite they prepared and the reminder phone call even!
    So the people are to be blamed. I have gotten really good friends over the years, am keeping in touch with friends all over; all thanks to the world wide web!
    Chat ethics…a totally different thing altogether. Again attribute to the person and her/his behaviour.

    Reema: E invitations are fine as long as there is a phone call too.

  11. as u said it is quite ridiculous if a person living in the same city doesn’t bother to give the invitation personally …. worse if he doesn’t call too ..
    but we have to accept the fact that everything has its own boon / bane …

    Reema: E invitations are fine for people living in long distance but then they must be accompanied with a phone call.

  12. i guess it boils down to perspective. sometimes what people consider as okay is not considered the same by others. for instance, i am most of the time early when i meet up with my friends. they apologise for being late, of course, but it does feel in a way that they don’t respect me that they take my punctuality for granted – i mean, they wouldn’t do the same for a doctor’s appointment or an interview, right? but i know it doesn’t mean they think less of me that that is why they’re late… it’s just the way they see things.

    maybe if we really think something should be done a certain, more proper way, we could bring that topic up in front of that person and see if s/he accepts that view or disagrees and gives the reasons why.

    Reema: yes I think its better to confront the person if something in their behaviour hurts us.

  13. Most people I know call or visit. Those who are a distant (not just geography) tend to communicate by electronically but I know what you mean as it is tempting to be lazy becoz of email. I have myself been a little guilty in this regard, sending an email instead of calling, and I realise that what happens is that the warmth is missing. In fact I would even go one step further than you and say that even the telephone is so impersonal. I personally do not like to chat on the telephone if it is possible to meet the person. It feels distant. In fact I cannot talk too long on the phone, though I have improved of late.
    I have heard of college students in hostel rooms next to each other chatting on the internet, instead of going across and chatting face to face!! I don’t think this speaks highly of their sociability.

    Reema: You are quite wonderful to talk to;so I have been told 🙂 Coming back to post, by making things easier email is making us lazier and sometimes unsocial.

  14. I always complained about time and money being wasted on wedding cards. After reading your post I think it is not a bad idea at all. I may sound old fashioned but e-invitation is a little too much( so far i haven’t received an e-invitation). It would be much better to invite on phone if it is not possible to visit the person because of time constraint or distance.

    Reema: Yes I too think the same. Send me an e invitation but do call up!

  15. I think that it’s the evolving to internet phase for some people. When the lines are drawn and rules are set then we may actually have a different scenario.

    Reema: I hope so!

  16. This is such a relevant topic to me right now, Reems! Even I hate sending marriage invites which are electronic… But, from my batch in school and engg, hardly anyone is in India, so it doesnt make any sense to send them proper invitation cards!! But, yes I believe the kind of friendship u have shared with a person should reflect in the invite, else its just a formality and its very impersonal!!

    Ill give you an example: I received an e-invite from a friend getting married. We were never really in touch, just a casual hi and bye on orkut. On receiving the invite, I felt so nice for the couple. So, I told her, ill be attending the wedding. Got no reply! It felt so strange! Anyways, now I know that I am “really” not invited 🙂

    Reema: Yes invite only those whom you really want to and do it properly! Too bad to hear about your friend.

  17. Interesting post and comments!
    I don’t find emails impersonal, I must say!
    It all depends on the person at the other end. I am never short of emotions to convey if needed.

    Reema: Thanks! Emails are fine but not e invitations!

  18. Oh, it’s all fine… you do not have to go so deep in blaming internet for the virtual behavior of people.. It is in front of you what you make of it is up to you and your personal choice.

    Reema: Hmmm just one of my rants dear…deep and personal 🙂

  19. Hmmm I agree with you to an extent.

    I still remember when I was in college my family used to send me Best of Luck card before every exam and each of my fren used to J.

    Now E-Cards have taken over which might be opened days after the relevant day has passed. Internet to some extent has crippled us. There are some occasions which warrant a personal touch….

    But then all depends on the other person as well….

    Reema: Hey my dad used to do that too! E cards are so bad..one cant even see them after 30 days! I love writing cards and decorating them.

  20. I liked reading this honest & straight out of the heart post of yours. I suspect that many people will agree with you on this, though they may not talk about it.
    Social networking tools such as Facebook/orkut etc have mostly become ways for people to show off their popularity to others. There was a study recently which hinted that more friends one has on Facebook , more likely he/she is to be a narcissist. Besides, I believe that if everybody is your ‘friend’ then that generally means you have very few real friends.
    I think it’s basically about human nature..it manifests itself the same way everywhere..tools might become different..
    But, I still find Facebook cool as it helps stay in touch with many people at the same time ( for ex, a status message saying that you have moved to different city is much easier to put rather than sending individual mails to ur friends) and it also helps in getting reconnected with some some lost friends.
    In the end, it’s important that we use these tools to our advantage and not become dependent upon them to give us any extra emotional feed..because most of the times , they wont.

    Reema: Thanks! Yes when I was new on Orkut, that was my first impression that people were competing to have as huge friend list as possible! After adding them, people forget them. That’s why I have only those on my list with whom I intend to keep in touch. Recently my list has increased as I added my blogger acquaintances with the same intention.

  21. Its like the rhetoric you posted in the end. It is always the people who are at fault. One cannot blame the WWW for People misusing it. It is like when you lose some money you say “Why God why, why me?”. I understand your feelings. I think People are getting more and more into their one self and getting into a rut by themselves. I know that deep down they want to wish people, they want to socialize but their mind is filled with thoughts about themselves that they forget about others. It is called the modern civilized life.

    Also, one shouldn’t worry about reciprocation. When you wish someone, you shouldn’t wish them with an intention of being wished back. When your friend realizes how much he/she missed wishing you, you will get them all back in one shot.

    Reema: Sadly I do need reciprocation. One sided relation isn’t satisfying or pleasing.

  22. @ Reema:

    Believe it or not, I read your post but the complaint does stand out 🙂

    You say:”The only role Internet is playing is to let people exhibit these innate traits without hesitation.”

    I would say “… without realising they are exhibiting their non-PR-able side”. That is the trick. People reveal more on the web than they might in real life. Why? That would be a good one to understand. They feel the web is anonymous but is it really? For people like you and me who do not hide behind a pseudonym?

    Reema: Dear I didnt mean to say that u didnt read my post 🙂 As for the revealing more on web, in my experience I have come across people mostly hiding their true colors and portraying someone they are not or they don’t have! Blogosphere is an opposite place in that respect but not totally.

  23. Frankly speaking..dont know what to write…may be because i havent faced the situation as urs cos i belong to slightly older generation than urs :))) and i got all invitations specially marriages one by post. Infact i feel how nice had the internet been so prevalent during my school time so that my school friends could have been still in touch. Though thanks to orkut i have got in touch with most of them but there has been a gap of 10yrs in between which is making all of us very formal while communicating..that warmth is not there!!!! on personal note WWW has helped me get me my life partner so i would never dare to make any complaints :))

    Reema: WWW ki jai! Of course some people have had pleasant experiences through www

  24. i felt the pang at the mention of turmeric on the corners of cards… tht is wt gives marriage a traditional look.. if u wanna go to hell wit traditions, then y practice them at all?
    but i dont care too much abt orkut coz i’ve been regularly irregular to it… 😛
    hope that Internet turns out to be as interesting as it was meant to be…

    Reema: I hope so too!

  25. I would have to disagree here. I found a lot of my old old old friends through the net; never even thought I would ever speak to them. and I dont feel its wrong to get reminded through some site about bdays or anniversaries. Life is too mechanical to keep thinking about all these days and I would blame on our busy schedules and priorities rather than on innocent internet. It seriously helps !

    I agree that orkut has lost its charm; everything gets locked there these days 😉

    Reema: Dear u didnt get my point! I didnt say its wrong of these websites to remind us. I m saying its wrong when we dont act upon the reminder!! I too found some old and new friends on web and ofcourse I discovered blogging! Orkut has lost its charm for guys I suppose! 😛

  26. “For people like you and me who do not hide behind a pseudonym?”
    Shefaly:
    Now that was a little harsh in terms of choice of words. For example, if I say that you are hiding your face (literally) in the WWW, would it be correct? Perhaps, perhaps not. Who knows?
    🙂
    PS- Reema, my real name is Daniel Craig. I am just acting a part here.

    Reema: 😀 That explains everything now!

  27. seriously, its being a while i have written any letter… emails just suffice.. but then at my recent trip home.. I found inland letters from friends from another school i met during a enrichment course during my 11th class…

    it was such a pleasant memory…..

    orkut is such a fad! boring and no privacy! facebook is still better… privacy options are much better…. and those irritating “frdnshp requests” you get!!
    Awww GOD!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reema: Oh Orkut has done lots for privacy settings. Just explore them.

  28. We can’t blame the technology for our laziness.. if we value a relationship that much means don’t we have 5 mins to talk with them. very poor. It’s all about ourselves. What we decide..?
    After reading this post I remebered that I too become lazy. Time to call my dear ones… 🙂

    Reema: I’m glad my post motivated you to call up friends.

  29. @ R-Doc:

    In my writings on typologies (which you have read I believe) I mentioned the types of anonymity – some remain anonymous even in offline conversations and others do not. I am happy to say that in my experience, the latter is a far greater number than the former. Which leads me to believe that more people are willing to stand behind their public personas’ opinions than not. Good enough for me to keep a sliver of trust in humans alive 🙂

    So your proclamation that you are Daniel Craig, er, does not cut it with me 😛

  30. Even my brother and bhabhi sent e-invitations. But then, they scanned the actual card and sent it to give it a little bit of a personal touch. Technology is changing things alright, things work differently now. You can’t go looking for that personal feel that one used to have in letters. It’s the e-mail world now. If it’s good, or bad, I don’t know.

    Social Networking websites, while a great idea, tend to get boring after a time. When you talk to old friends once in a while, you feel good. But on things like Orkut, you can talk to them all the time and eventually you get bored.

    Reema: Yes but I m not talking about always being in touch. I m talking about special occasions. Also just because technology is there, that doesn’t mean one has to give up giving the personal touch.

  31. I believe that as the technology advances, our ways of communicating will also change, for better or worst. Earlier, people used to call up or visit because that was the only alternative. Now we have internet and webcams and we are easily accessible to each other without moving a leg.
    The problem is, that we don’t have time now. Long distance relationships are hard to maintain.

    Reema: Yes long distance relationships are hard to maintain but I believe one always finds time to do what he wants to do.

  32. Quite am e-motional post there:-) I can hear you and i completely agree to your last para! its not the system which is to be blamed completely. Its the people and the priorities these days. The life is all about money and power now. Its such an irony that last year during a performance of my daughters, my friends to whom i sent the e-cards turned up more rather than those whom i had invited personally! so its all about people only feel

    Reema: 🙂 Yes it all depends on the people.

  33. “Technology Changes, People Don’t” via gapingvoid.com

    Like some one commented above “Internet is just a medium”, people remain the same. Even in absence of so called ‘web 2.0’ or internet, people used to send invitation cards to other people but personally used to call or visit with a box of sweets to only few people. Other people were invited but not welcomed. The person inviting wouldn’t care much* if those guests would come or not.

    Internet hasn’t changed anything much, people still personally call people or personally email them(whatever medium they use comfortably) to welcome people while rest are just invited for the sake formality.

    Also, priorities change over time, close friends or long time friends don’t stay that close for long, people stop caring about other people who they used to care about, and so with change in priorities, the level and way of communication changes and so on. Everyone gets busy in fighting their own battles. So, if someone doesn’t call you to inform you that he/she is getting married, he/she doesn’t want you to know.

    In many circumstances, I have forced people to scan and send me an e-card than to meet me personally. I find e-mails pretty comfortable medium as majority of my communications are done via it.

    Reema: Nice way of explaining the perspective from the other side. 🙂 My point is if u cant call then dont invite.

  34. I agree with you entirely on that not pinging you even if online part. Even if we ping them they don’t reply. Internet succeeded in bringing people in different states and countries closer and pushing those in the same city far away. Every action has a counter-action. Nice phrase huh?

    Reema: Nice!! 🙂

  35. ooo Nice one gurl…I kinda have to agree with this post completely and let me also say, people who really are close to you, I trust them completely to call and invite you over…! 🙂

    Reema: Thanks! yes I guess that just shows u were not close to that person after all!

  36. hey.. i guess there are many people holding the stand here for the internet.. i just wanna say society changes, the ways of the society change, and u will also have to change.. it depends on u whether u welcome the change or accept it reluctantly..

    Reema: If the society changes for the worse, I cant just accept without a word!

  37. Damn good post.
    And i bet everyone commented must have said that which means they are all in full support.
    And so, do all these people do care to make a call for their wedding invite? May be not.

    Everyone likes good words. Good posts.
    The problem, we do not agree ourselves 🙂

    I do wish everyone on their b’days.
    And i never feel that i have done something great.
    It’s only ‘cos orkut reminded me of wishing me. If not, i would never wish any. So, the wishes are just formality sake, to be rude.
    Should i complaint that i didn’t receive any wishes for my b’day? I wud better complain that they are just formality if i receive any.
    And know what lollzz i had a great competition to wish me on my b’day
    http://jagan123.blogspot.com/2008/03/my-bday-blast-grab-exciting-prizes.html
    haha.. lolzz
    Scraps flooded in orkut that day 😀
    Hmmm… it’s all how you look at the World.
    I have never wished anyone expected them to wish me back, even from my best buddies.
    Everyone has excuses.

    Reema: Thanks! Nice trick to get wishes. As for expectations, I wish sincerely so I expect 🙂

  38. Internet is just a tool- the distances and apathy really begin in the mind (or heart). But connectivity has never been so real-time and global, and the distances so diminished as they are now.
    I find it surprising that many people are so busy with their on-line relationships with people they have not met that they really do start avoiding the real people they know.

    I think it gives people a ‘high’ to be popular and that too in such a different way. One can bypass many of their social or other inadequacies in online relationships. So it is a kind of dependence (if not addiction for all) that is like doing pleasure drugs, and in just the same way, they neglect the more personal and real aspects of human interactions.

    Reema: Hmmm quite true.

  39. Well yeah, I removed my bday from orkut and noone wished me via orkut.
    And only my closest friends remembered. We would have to accept that fact that only our close friends/relatives/parents./wife would remember our bday and noone else.

    🙂

    Reema: Sigh! yeah u r right. Belated Happy Birthday! when was it?

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