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What Facebook does to your brain?

There has been a lot of writing about how people exaggerate their life events in order to grab attention of their friends in their social media circle. As most of the articles -written today are search engine optimized or purported to be entertaining- conclude that the online viewers need not take seriously such posts or updates, but should neglect them as mere exaggerations and continue with their regular life.

Why aren’t we bothered to think or write further on this topic to understand what difference technology or such ‘individual media’ has made in our lives? To justify the theme of this article we will consider Facebook, as it is the most popular platform where one’s personal life events are made social and show cased. 

Facebook is truly a marvelous and ambitious invention of the century that gives an opportunity to anyone in any corner of this world to collaborate with and become a part of the global society. This is possible, as not only persons who are known to each other become friends on Facebook but anyone can, which makes it a more wonderful tool, if used in the right sense mutually between two people.

In order to understand the impact Facebook has made on us, we need to go back in time and understand how inter-personal relationships were before the era of social networking.  If you are a millennial especially from the West, you may encounter a problem in contemplating this idea. As the western culture became liberal in its outlook much before than the rest of the world, most of their younger population now may not understand how unequally liberal the world was in its ideologies during the 60s.

The values preserved by the East in the 80’s or 90’s were bygone in the West during their 60’s. Thus the inter-personal relationship that we discuss could be something very new to the present younger generation, especially of the West.  In other words, one critical part in understanding the pre-social media era is that the world has become a leveled play ground almost after the emergence of social media and hence the different regions of the world before the arrival of social media cannot be weighed on the same balance.

For instance, when hippie youth movement began in the mid 1960s in USA, during which psychedelic trance and drugs became very common, most of the people in some other parts of the world didn’t even know then, what a television is.  Thus the act of a community becoming open in its outlook happened much earlier in the United States or in the West, rather than the other side of the world.

As the Western society has been progressive in a much faster pace, the generation gap between the millennial population of the East and West is drastic and hence is the difference in understanding of the inter-personal communication before the social media age. 

Not much in the past (or may be in the past for the Western Civilization), human beings used to interact a lot and exchange information on a one-to-one basis and hence the touch of human emotions and feelings were personified throughout those interactions.

There was humor, anger, love, compassion, motivation and all other forms of direct on-the-face emotions in play in any inter-personal communication. Above all, there was fairness in transfer of opinions and information. This is to remember, not much back in the past as already mentioned. 

Why those conversations were lively and honest? It is because the very basic fabric of the communication was so human. Moreover, there was no means to make your reach sprawling and communicate to thousands of people in one go. Nobody wanted to become someone else- whom they are not- just because there were not much people around to see the pseudo-transformation.

This was also supported by the lack of material and means around to primp them themselves.  With the arrival of Facebook and globalization, people have got a medium and the means to spruce themselves and lead ersatz lives for the sake of their mobile devices and machines. In turn, what has been lost is the very fabric of survival- the human emotions; and the saddest part is to think of the loss as irreparable.

Can we go back in time to bring those dead emotions back alive? No, because evolution so far has moved forward.  Facebook cannot be held responsible for the changes that we have undergone, because it is only the human thought process that evolves and as a result, machines.

As time rolled on, with the help of technological advancements, we have added a seventh sense that makes us devoid of human emotions but still making us co-exist in the human society. Or evolution is still in process working with our behavior rather than our morphology; as it did with our previous humanoid forms like Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) whose brain capacity was comparatively lower than that of Homo sapiens. 

Are we developing an extra sense in addition to the six senses, which makes us behave completely self-centered in a holistic society, which is something the modern man lacked a few decades ago? Or is it the absence of technology that made man give importance to personal relationships, then. The results cannot be confounding, as today, even on personal one-to-one communications, the conviction for human emotions seems to be lost.

It is better to conclude that the symbiotic relationship between man and technology is taking forward the process of evolution.  But the fact is that even with Facebook, we can be so much human enough to survive with those emotions full of life. After all, Facebook is a marvel of the technology that can carry our virtues across the continents. We need to be ourselves when we are watched by many and all we need to do is a realization of the self! Does theory of evolution support self-realization? Hopefully!

Featured Image Source: LinkedIn

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