A host of social networks find us more connected than ever before, but leave us groping for words in the digital space.
I am making a list of all the platforms that I use to connect with the large networks that I belong to. Here goes: I use Yahoo! Messenger to talk to my friends in east Asia. Most of my work meetings happen on Skype and Google Hangout. A lot of friendly chatter fills up my Facebook Messenger. Twitter is always available for a little back-chat and bitching. On the phone, I use Viber to make VoIP calls and WhatsApp is the space for unending conversations spread across days. And these are just the spaces for real-time conversation. Across all these platforms, something strange is happening. As I stay connected all the time, I am facing a phenomenon where we have run out of things to say, but not the desire to talk.
I had these three conversations today on three different instant-messaging platforms:
Person 1 (on WhatsApp): Hi.
Me: Hey, good to hear from you. How are you doing?
Person 1: Good.
Me (after considerable silence): So what’s up?
Person 1: Nothing.
End of conversation.
Person 2 (On an incoming video call on Skype): Hey, you there?
Me: Yeah. What time is it for you right now?
Person 2: It is 10 at night.
Me: Oh! That is late. How come you are calling me so late?
Person 2: Oh, I saw you online.
Me: Ok….. *eyes raised in question mark*
Person 2: So, that’s it. I am going to sleep soon.
Me: Ok…. Er…goodnight.
We hang up.
Person 3 (pinging me on Facebook): Hey, you are in the US right now?
Me: Yes. I am attending a conference here.
Person 3: Cool!
Me: Umm… yeah, it is.
Person 3: emoticon of a Facebook 'like'. Have fun. Bye.
Initially I was irritated at the futility of these pings that are bewildering in their lack of content. I dismissed it as one of those things, but I realise that there is a pattern here. Our lives are so particularly open and documented, such minute details of what we do, where we are and who we are with, is now available for