Next stop is Summerhill …

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What virtual social networks have done to our lives? A bright young novelist of Bangladesh, Rafiuzzaman Sifat, recently put something on his Facebook as a status that really mesmerized my mind. He wrote that if Facebook was not there, average wedding cost could be reduced up to 79% in Bangladesh!

I knew it was an outcome of his witty mind, may be a bit exaggerated, but I hardly could give up on it as a hypothesis. Similarly, I found something very interesting on Word Porn the other day and was discussing it with a friend, say her name was Summer Finn. The Word Porn banner said ‘No one’s life is as perfect as their Instagram feed’ and interestingly we were discussing something similar about the profile pictures of people these days.

Probably all of us know a few friends (virtually!) who keep uploading cheesy photos with their fiancé, spouse or partner on Facebook every now and then making you sad, happy or jealous (in a positive manner!). However, I have known some of them sharing every detail of their unhappy lives to their friends! Although, this can’t be generalized, this happens a lot these days.

Gradually I came to know Facebook is a place full of fakeness and there was nothing that you need to consider as a true reflection of life in here. There are many good things about Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. but the way we have taken these virtual platforms to shape up our lives is truly intricated.

I have seen people taking thousands of photographs in beautiful places without taking their eyes off from the lens; probably they would get to see those lakes, forests or seas only after when they upload those photographs on social networks! Sometimes we go to nice restaurants on weekends and we end up taking photographs of food and furniture probably without being able to taste and enjoy the overall ambiance of the place. We even compromise out thoughts and ideologies to gather more likes, loves, emotions and comments on Facebook. We start analyzing what went wrong with our last status as it received lesser likes than the previous one!

Summerhill Station

Summerhill Station, Toronto, ON M4T 1W2, Canada

One childhood friend of mine, say his name was Summer Turtle, asked me to watch a television series titled ‘Black Mirror’. When I asked him what this series is all about, he told me it was all about the future reflection of my current projection about social media. I watched it, loved it and to be honest, got terrified! The series horrifyingly showed how wickedly you could use social media to trap someone whom you hate, or how you can change a government or humiliate a public figure in a nice wavy movement without letting most of the people realize it! Social media by far is the biggest surveillance ever took place in the history of mankind. It’s more of a survey that people have taken part in without being pursued!

Every day I take a subway to reach my workplace. I see people, almost more than half of them using their phones – browsing the net! Even just a decade back I used to see people reading books on subways or streetcars! There is a gentle rhythm when you travel a subway, you get used to it, you start loving every bit of it, and you find music, a solemn one to give you peace if you look for it. It’s winter here; snowfall makes life dull but whizzy.

There is a station on my way named Summerhill. Every time I pass by this station, I plan to get down there, take the stairs, move up and breathe. I want to breathe the fresh air, feel it and try to live my life without the artificial peer pressure from social networks to look good, to look rich or to look happy. I just want to be myself and get rid of those shiny masks, don’t you?

Shamim and Ohona

The writer with his daughter Ahona in front of her school in Toronto, Canada.

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Shamim Ahmed is a public health professional and a development economist. Currently, he is a Ph.D. student at the University of Toronto and pursuing doctoral research on Social and Behavioral Health Sciences. He is also working as a Teaching Assistant of Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Shamim is a published author. He has four well-acclaimed poetry books. Being a public health professional, he is known to be a philanthropist for his regular columns on diverse issues from politics to social science, poetry to diplomacy, and what not.
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