The social media algorithm is scary and fascinating at the same time. Effortlessly it keeps on providing us feeds evaluating our past posts, actions and search. If you observe your Youtube list, Twitter timeline or Pinterest search, to name a few, the feed keeps giving you exactly what you prefer to watch or interact with.
Once I tried to search for a Ted Talk on happiness and ever since I have been flooded with motivational speeches from all kinds of outlets. Then, one day, a friend of mine used my phone to search for some relationship coach and his recommendation on how to build a great relationship with your guy. Ever since I have been getting doses of “What a guy likes in a woman” to “3 things not to do to chase a man”.
Not even two decades ago we never had this sort of option. I remember back in the 90s when we were in school, fashion and lifestyle magazines like Cosmopolitan, Elle and Femina used to have a quiz column where you were asked 7-10 questions and on that basis they would draw conclusions about the topic.
The topic varied from “What kind of person are you?”, “ What kind of man should you date?”, “How healthy is your relationship?”, “Are you an introvert or an extrovert?”, and so on and so forth. There were results on the basis of points you scored, or there were A-B-C-D defined replies. I remember seniors and also girls from my batch getting together with their pencils and notebooks during lunch to try out these quizzes. The magazines were sneaked inside the school “illegally.”
But at present, finding thousands of such expert quizzes and suggestions is only a google away. I won’t lie, there were times when I was dating and when there came some hiccups, I tried listening to expert advice online, especially on YouTube. (According to a recent survey, 57 percent of Nepal’s internet users regularly visit the video channel.) One out of 10 suggestions may have worked. I still say it may have, or it could be purely coincidental.
For the past two weeks I have intentionally searched for a few such videos again for research. I shouldn’t be surprised but I am at the number of views these videos have on Youtube (from hundreds of thousands to millions). There were dozens of comments in the videos as well. There are actually people who take these things seriously and follow them. Makes me question if it really works.
Nothing in life comes with a guarantee card except that we are born, we will grow old and we will eventually die. Except that, we all need to explore, test and taste. What might work for those 100,000 people might or might not work for us. Maybe the man/woman you are currently dating does not have any of the characteristics these opinions are based on.
A lot of times we search these videos when we are in dire need of solace. If you notice, these videos are made with a lot of psychological tricks. I can assure you, you will agree with 90 percent of what they are saying because they say things you want to listen to, at that exact distressing moment.
I do partially agree with a few things they say because they are based on human behavior as well. We all react to certain things in similar ways. We all have the same emotions but we act differently in different situations. The boiling and cooling points vary from person to person. Just because a relationship coach in some social media site tells you that you need to be more outgoing and be more reachable when in real life you are an extreme introvert, you might pretend to be someone who you are not, just to save that relationship. The question is, for how long?
A very interesting example right now is a lot of videos that tell us that “Distance makes the heart grow fonder”. It might have worked in the 1980s and 1990s with the magazine quizzes. But right now after the pandemic, what everyone needs is constant physical presence and human touch. We crave for a big rib-cracking bear hug and to meet people who are dear to us. People have stopped waiting for the right time to communicate feelings or grievances because we all have felt the uncertainty of life due to the pandemic.
Like the social media apps we need to upgrade ourselves to the choices we make. If you want to call someone just call and talk—it won’t make you less important or desperate. If you want to say sorry and mend your relationship, go ahead with that too. There is only one rule and that is you want to handle it without any regrets. Rest will fall in place eventually.