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Pull back from the virtual world, it can be dangerous. Learn to accept reality

THE ASIAN AGE. | ARCHANA DALMIA
Published : Mar 14, 2018, 1:52 am IST
Updated : Mar 14, 2018, 1:54 am IST

It’s high time to pull back on our covers and allow ourselves to heal, away from the scathing eyes of this unreal world that we have created.

When our entire life is up on display, it is only natural that we want it to look really good. People spend their whole lives mastering the perfect selfie. I have seen millions spent on advertising a particular phone whose claim to fame and USP is that it takes the best selfies.
 When our entire life is up on display, it is only natural that we want it to look really good. People spend their whole lives mastering the perfect selfie. I have seen millions spent on advertising a particular phone whose claim to fame and USP is that it takes the best selfies.

In a world where values have shifted from all that is solid and long-lasting to all that is ephemeral and temporary, it is not surprising that that too much attention is being given to how we look. Our obsessive new leanings towards this aspect of our lives has spawned a mega-dollar industry, which feeds off our obsession with our appearance. We, on the other hand, greedily and lustily feed on the solutions it offers, paying it the money that makes this industry a multi-billion dollar one.

With so much intrusion into our private spaces, with a hyperactive social media and fast lifestyles, and the breakup of protective families, our personal boundaries are blurred and even erased. We have allowed ourselves to be open to the harsh scrutiny of the world at large, an occurrence which makes us even more obsessed about putting out our “best looking” selves.

This compounded with our growing need for instant gratification propels us towards certain attention-driven apocalypse. Look at us — we write a few paragraphs and post them immediately on our social media platforms. We don’t clean them up, we don’t check, or worry if what we have written is senseless, we just post. Because we need some sort of a response — and immediately! We need to count our “likes” and can even fret, go into a depression, make or break friendships, on the basis of our “likes”. And, because we are nervous about becoming irrelevant, we need to reinvent ourselves all the time, diminishing our core as we go along.

We wear a new dress, or get a new hairstyle and the need to showcase ourselves before the whole world is immediate. Even if we eat something we need to show our food to the world — one can only imagine how far this will go.

When our entire life is up on display, it is only natural that we want it to look really good. People spend their whole lives mastering the perfect selfie. I have seen millions spent on advertising a particular phone whose claim to fame and USP is that it takes the best selfies. The market has caught on and is pandering to this need for instant gratification.

So, instead of working out and shedding any extra weight, one can just go on to an app on a phone and correct how we look. The apps help us to look slim, fair, sharp-nosed, sharp-jawed, large-eyed or whatever our cup of tea is. We look better immediately, at the click of a button.

What happens to us when we face our reflections in the mirror is another story altogether. People who only put out filtered and edited pictures of themselves slowly turn recluse — there is such a disparity between their reality and what they project to the world.

Stories about romances smashing to smithereens the moment they step into the real world from a virtual one are dime a dozen. Both have put their best-doctored face forward, but the reality is very different.

This unreal alternate-world that buzzes and thrives on the Internet’s waves compels us to change everything we showcase on it. So our grass and trees are always greener, the sky painfully blue, the ocean whichever hue we choose. Everything is seen through the distortion or enhancement of a filter, nothing is real or true to life. Everything we do has to be Instagrammable!

How then can ageing and the fading of youth be tolerated? Go to a party or go to a Facebook page. A picture of a lady with her daughter is most likely to be bombarded with comments suggesting that the mother and daughter duo look like sisters. This was fine till the Santoor advertisement of yesteryears. But now, this overkill can make a thinking person cringe. What is the joy in trying to look your daughter’s age and how terrible for the daughter to obliquely be told that she looks far older than her years?

And this malaise affects those who are in the prime of their youth — they make the catchment area and the net is cast on them — and they must begin their beauty treatments before they even step into that age where the lines of a life well lived begin to show on them.

But youth is king. It is also queen. It is the whole country. It is life. The beeline at cosmetic surgeons is unreal, and they are laughing all the way to the bank. Each new potion they offer, each new surgery they show promises everlasting youth. These methods have become a travesty, and can even have dangerous consequences.

The people on this Ferris wheel can never get off it. Their faces begin to look like caricatures of their true selves and deep within their bodies, their hearts are shattered and afraid. This is because they have spent all their lives rubbing expensive lotions into their skins, instead of enriching their souls and soaking their minds in knowledge. They worship their bodies — though their compulsions may wary.

They put on a brave face as they pay their huge bills at the cosmetic surgeon’s clinic, brave the pain that pierces the mist of the anaesthesia, smile and click a selfie to post online. There are those who live by the face, there are those who live by the body and there are those who live by the mind. These sort of people have always been so, and will continue to be. It’s up to us to make our choices.

This is the pressure of the “ordinary” person’s world. What can one even begin to say about the pressure of being in the limelight of the film industry?

It’s high time to pull back on our covers and allow ourselves to heal, away from the scathing eyes of this unreal world that we have created.

The writer is the chairperson of the AICC grievance cell. The views expressed here are personal.

Tags: virtual world, social media