Closer or More Distant?

I remember the first year I came to United States for ninth grade and was able to receive calls from my family only once a week. It was expensive to call home and when my family called, we could only speak for a few minutes. While we had Wi-Fi at our school, it was not customary in Afghanistan to have data on one’s phone or an internet connection at one’s home.

Today, we speak frequently and for long periods. When I feel nostalgic, all I have to do is tap on an icon on my screen and look at my parents’ faces. It is not only easy but also cheap.

Social networking services such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber, and other platforms where people can stay connected with one another while at a distance, have probably brought our world closer together than ever before. However, these same services have enlarged the gap between people living close together.

I am not an expert on the internet and many may oppose my beliefs but I am a twenty year old who feels an immense pressure to keep up with the constant alteration in the ways a young person must live. To me, the expectation to be aware of updates and newly introduced social networking is draining not to even speak of keeping up with everything that goes on within those networks.

To be in touch with others is one thing but to know what every moment of someone else’s life consists of, is another. Some might say being active and keeping those in one’s social circle updated is a choice, which is right. That choice however, will place a different distance, which I call a “cyber distance” among people. It is like sitting across from each other but feeling disconnected over a conversation about Snapchat videos from a party the night before.

Posting pictures on Instagram or updating status on Facebook is a choice. Yes, I agree but today, those posts are in most cases, determinants of others’ views on how one’s day, week, month or year go. This semester I am studying abroad in Europe and not being much of a social media person, I had not posted pictures of the places I have travelled. Through a conversation, I recently learned that many thought I had not travelled at all since I had not posted any pictures on Facebook.

While it is a choice to keep up with today’s definition of connectivity or not, like anything else that choice has consequences. It affects the circle of one’s real life friends and those on the internet. In many ways, it is a contrast between presenting people with a very uneventful, lonely and miserable life when your life is actually lively and eventful or displaying a very happy and colorful profile when the reality sits far from that. Or on the other hand, it could be just balanced and that, I am afraid will remain a constant struggle for the all of us.

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