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Making sense of Social Media

Digital Greetings

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I miss letters and greeting cards. A letter delivered by a postman, with its lines of handwriting, loops and angles that give a reflection of personality and, perhaps, secrets tucked inside the letters. Waiting for the postman to find a letter is old fashioned but many cherish still. Then opening letters, reading, and reading them again. There is a romance in writing and receiving letters that seems almost entirely lost to people particularly those who inhabit the cyberspace in this information era.

The switch to email and instant messaging has created an entirely new kind of language - of shorthand, emoticons (term coined by joining two words emotions and icons), graphics, and poor or nonexistent grammar, and missing punctuation, computer slang. It has also given birth to another kind of greetings: cyber greetings. This is about that.

Emails, instant messaging and text messaging (through cell phones) are quick and easy. Even person like me writes more of shorthand letters now than I ever did on paper. Granted, that they have increased contact with family, friends and colleagues than ever before. They provide eases and convenience. What would any day be like without a message window popping up mid-afternoon with a little emoticon sent by a dear and near one? Indeed, online communication is doing wonders for human relationship. A little goes a long way.

With rather longer prelude, the idea of cyber greetings is undeniably relevant to today, and it is intriguing. Information communication technologies provide an anonymity that allows people to reveal more than they ever would face to face. It also allows temptation to overcome good sense, and the results sometime can be overwhelming. Imagine two persons who came across each other after any one of them seeing online profile of the other and finding it "interesting" makes an endeavor and reaches out to the other online. Both are easily drawn to each other in online exchange of messages, too predictably, and without enough explanation as to why. The whole exchange takes in "real time". And before too long, the causal exchange turns into witty flirtation and may be into full-blown romance between those who have yet not met face to face. Clever combinations of e-mails, live chat lines, explicit emoticons and computer shortcuts, give way to the situation where 'the headstrong-girl-meets-self-sufficient-boy' and the urge to meet may becomes very strong.

posted by S A J Shirazi @ Saturday, September 04, 2021,


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