It’s not imperative to participate in heated arguments on social media to prove how socially aware you are
Today, social media has given a 360-degree turn to the way we all communicate. This is often overwhelming for introverts like me. We fear that our silence might be misconstrued as a lack of opinion or knowledge on certain issues of significance (cue fiddling fingers, looking up and down, fumbling).
If you are already nodding your heads, just remember this: You are, in no way, obliged to succumb to this pressure. Secondly, there are ways to say your piece without waging a war of words with strangers on public platforms.
When I moved from Kolkata to Delhi in 2016, the only personal social media presence I had was a Facebook account. Gradually, when I saw my colleagues and friends use social media to effectively get work done and showcase their talent, I had a mini-FOMO, and felt the need to create an account each on Instagram and Twitter, and it has worked well for me.
But often, one’s social media accounts and posts, when they lean in a direction that’s the opposite of the ideology or values one’s organisation or workplace upholds or supports, cease to be of a personal nature, and turn into mini mouthpieces for the voice of company one works with, irrespective of the nature of the job. No amount of ‘RTs are not endorsements’ can save you from that.
Also, there’s no denying that being an introvert, like me, just adds to this dilemma. I am not comfortable having these conversations with strangers even in person, leave alone on social media. But that, in no way, means I refrain from talking about what matters altogether. I do it my way, in a manner that’s comfortable.
So, I have devised my own means to express my thoughts and opinions on various issues without getting involved in arguments, trolling, war of words, or unpleasant exchanges.
For instance, when I read a news item on an issue that resonates with my thought process, I express my stance by simply sharing it on my feeds, or my Facebook wall.
Another way of expression that works for me is memes. I share a meme that depicts a certain social cause as my Instagram story to convey the message without being too direct, as that doesn’t interfere with my comfort level.
On other occasions, when a certain newspaper in Bengal that’s known for its clever and out-of-the-box headlines carries a story that supports an issue or movement I support, I happily share that article with the witty headline and thus, take a stand.
A lucky factor for me is my younger sibling is a social activist, and she is a lot more vocal and expressive on issues close to her heart and area of work, as compared to me. There have been times when I have ended up feeling like I’m not doing as much as she does to make my voice heard. In those instances, instead of pulling myself down, I try to stand by her in her campaigns by contributing in small, more actionable and constructive ways to make it known that I am a part of that thought leadership.
Closer to home, I feel like there’s more productivity when I initiate discussions by speaking with close friends who I know are there to have a healthy thought exchange. You don’t always agree, but there’s perspective, and that too, without someone yelling social media generated slurs at you.
Which brings me to the point I raised right in the beginning — whether or not someone chooses or not to engage in burning conversations publicly or on social media platforms, is in no matter a parameter to judge their wokeness or activism.
So yes, people are a little surprised when they don’t see me incessantly Tweeting, or IG-ing. Even worse, when I didn’t have a Twitter or Instagram account, which I eventually did, and took about a year to feel comfortable posting on.
But I now know how to speak the subtle language of sarcasm and appreciation, in my own script. I believe what eventually really counts is you are well-informed about what matters, have an opinion, and have your own way to show your care or solidarity towards it.