At first glance, this might come across as a party planning blog post, but it’s not. I want to take some time today to talk about life and its daily pressures. This is a post about how all of us have become like those soda bottles which have been shaken, and all that fizz is just waiting to pop. That’s how all of us are living each day; on the edge. From work, home, chores, kids, and health, to even social media; everything is creating the fizz that we don’t need in life.
Just the other day, when talking to one of my dearest friends over the phone, he asked me a casual question, “How are you, what’s up?” This casual question was answered by me for at least next 15 minutes. What does that tell you? That I talk too much? Well yes, but that’s not the point. There was something more serious going on than just that. I realized with that conversation, how much really was going on in my mind and my life. From some really important things like studying for an upcoming examination, attending a class to learn something new; to what chores and tasks I had lined up that day. Everything was creating this anxiety and buzz in my thoughts.
When talking about daily pressures, I cannot stop myself from saying that, living in the US without any family support or help has been especially challenging after having my son. Daily life has become a series of 24-hour routines that we religiously try to keep up with. I am sure, everyone, living anywhere in this world today will have similar things to say, especially about not having enough time on their hands. No wonder we miss the days when we were still kids and enjoying our stress-free lives. The list of tasks is never-ending. As soon as you get over with a few and feel good a new list is already being generated for you to handle. There are a few good moments in the mix like weekends, which are a bit more relaxing, and travel. But at least 60-70% of our lives are spent doing and taking care of tasks.
Why am I cribbing about all this? Do I have a solution? If I did, I would not be cribbing! But there is a good reason for me to write this post. Last week has been a very dark one. Waking up to news of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain ending their lives, to more personal bad news, where a friend’s brother lost his life to mob lynching in North East, India due to a rumor that spread over WhatsApp and losing my close friend to a heart attack. This horrible news has forced me to think more deeply about each day. It has once again reminded me of how unpredictable and fragile life is. It’s easy to read that we should live each day to the fullest, and like it was our last day, but to practice this has become nearly impossible. If this was my last day, would I like to spend it calling the insurance company, working 8 hours in the office, picking up grocery and spending most of my time away from my family? No, but I still have to, hoping this is not my last day. The recent suicides also pointed towards the fact that no amount of money or fame is enough to bring true happiness. The news, where a friend’s brother lost his life due to rumors spreading on social media and WhatsApp, also shows the dark side of life and how everything can just vanish.
If all the things we do in life daily, weekly, monthly or yearly is the ‘cola’ of life; add to it the fizz made from expectations, judgments, failures, sorrows, challenges, competition, time constraints etc. We are constantly juggling to balance this and so I call all of us that bottle of soda which is just waiting to pop. To add to this fizz, we have new things coming up each day. Take for example how communicating with your near and dear ones has changed. Modern communication has without any doubt made it very easy to stay in touch with a vast number of people. But it is also responsible for making life more stressful and complicated. We can quickly take a peek at our friend’s life and happy moments. But will it ever give us a peek into their problems or sorrows like a phone call can? Don’t they need us more in those times than when they are enjoying a holiday or celebrating with family? Earlier, a personal birthday wish was calling a close friend up and wishing them. This spot has been grabbed by WhatsApp which is considered to be a little more personal than Facebook.
All this has changed the dynamics of friendships and relationships all over the world. I have never been a ‘maybe’ person. I either like someone or don’t. And I appreciate people who are clear about not liking me. I think there is not enough time in this world to waste in diplomacy and just trying to be friends with someone you don’t like being around. Sometimes, what gets to me, is the fact that people will talk to you and show that they want to be friends, and at the same time will ignore you completely on social media. Though I am not diplomatic, I always believe in giving everyone a second chance, as I understand there might have been something I did that without my realizing, pissed someone else off. But let me tell you some people are just unbelievable! No matter what you do, they never treat you the same and don’t understand reciprocity. I wonder if those ‘Karma’ memes are inspired by observing such people. I surely know that there is a difference in giving a second chance, and not having a spine, and over the years have mastered the art of swiftly weeding out toxic people from my life. But all this drama for what? Which brings me to my point about social media pressures and distractions. I know some of you will say, “just stop using Facebook”. But why should I give up talking to all others who matter, and connecting with them?
With full-blown cold wars on Facebook of not liking someone’s post or unfollowing them completely to all the pressure WhatsApp brings to our life with features like ‘read receipts’ 😉, we are just drowning in these pressures. I use WhatsApp a lot, and love it, but also feel it has many unnecessary features which will break friendships and relationships by creating a paranoia that we can do without. This ‘read receipts’ feature does convey to you that the intended message has reached the person you sent it to, but creates more problems than it solves. Not everyone understands and is on the same page about what is acceptable and what’s not. Personally, I think it’s unacceptable and very rude to read any personal message and not acknowledge it. Even if the answer is a simple ‘ok’, it’s still necessary. Sometimes it can show, you are careless and unprofessional, depending on who you are talking to. At the same time, I feel it makes the sender feel that they are not important to you. This is human nature. And then you cannot expect them to be responsive to you. In addition to this, with constant forwards, articles, memes and so much data to be processed daily; we are constantly glued to these devices and absent from what’s going on in our surroundings. Forwards that are just for humor are still fine, but we should be careful that we are not passing off rumors as facts and creating panic. This has recently claimed many lives in India in cases of mob lynching based on these rumors being passed away on social media. The thought of a simple WhatsApp message, sent as a prank, has the power to end someone’s life scares me.
It’s up to us to reduce these pressures. Let’s be a little more responsible. Let’s be compassionate and a little less judgmental. But beyond that, let’s just be human and try to look out for others in every possible way we can, and be a better-updated version of ourselves each new day. Maybe this will reduce the anxiety and fizz a bit if it was our last day on this planet. Maybe that hand of help, that small message or phone call will make someone else a little less lonely on this very crowded but distant world!