Saturday, July 25, 2020

Social media days


“I just got added to a WhatsApp group,” Dad said during our video chat, “that has all my classmates from tenth grade.”

Said group was blowing up with hundreds of messages and Dad spent hours on it, trying to identify the faces of the members. But attempting something like that thirty five years after he’d last seen them was challenging. Still, the fact that he’s not very great at identifying faces in general can’t be overlooked.

But his experience still highlighted a major difference between the generations we belonged in. I haven’t been in his shoes yet because of one major factor- social media.

When I joined Instagram in 2017, it was purely to reconnect with ex-classmates from school. My friends who were already on the app told me all about how easy it was to stay in touch and it piqued my interest. 

Instagram opened a whole world for me. I got to text people I hadn’t seen in ten years. It led to new experiences and reviving old connections. 

For Dad, the WhatsApp group he now had the opportunity to be a part of was the string that connected two different phases of his life together. Everyone shared photos of themselves and their families excitedly, and hearing the different paths their lives had taken was interesting. Lockdown had definitely brought everyone together.

But I’ve also inherited Dad’s terrible memory. My first few weeks of college were filled with obstacles I’d never really encountered before. Attending the same school for years meant not really meeting new people everyday. So suddenly being thrust into an environment where all my peers were uncertain and unsure of each other was a little scary, but thrilling. Within a few days, I realized that I wasn’t really that great at remembering new faces or names, and that knowledge made me terrified to talk to people who recalled their first meeting with me just fine. I felt bad knowing that they remembered me perfectly while I struggled with trying to place their face in the flurry of conversations I had. 

Sometimes I wonder about the next app that’ll make it as big as Instagram. People were all over Facebook when it first launched, but my generation sees it as a thing of the past. And one day another powerhouse will creep into our lives under our very noses- so subtle that we won’t detect it’s intrusion, but so life changing at the same time.

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