The American Presidential Election has thrown up a truth many of us weren't willing to acknowledge - our real lives are vastly different from the one we live on social media.
For a non-American following the American elections on social media, the result was as assured as a Salman Khan acquittal. The ever jovial John Oliver and the ever sarcastic Bill Maher spewed venom for what it was worth on Donald Trump, his false mane, his inexperience, his violations against women and his claims that he would make America great again but turning back time and pretending globalization and global warming were conditions that were easily curable. Expecting him to win was like expecting Raj Thackeray to sing a duet with Abida Parveen on Coke Studio Pakistan.
Or that's what we were given to believe. Or that was what we wanted to believe.
At some point in his campaign, Trump made a telling statement about how people who claimed they didn't like him would eventually vote for him.
And that's how America got its first sexual misogynist, cheat, inexperienced and incompetent person as its President.
We viewed the world and its opinions through the prism of social media and thought we knew all there was to know about what people felt and what the eventual outcome would be.
While social media has brought the world closer and information has been transported at the speed of light, it has also caused a duality a lot of us are uncomfortable addressing. Closer home, when Salman Khan was acquitted of running over people and killing them while drunk, social media was aghast when he was proved not guilty of a crime he so obviously was guilty of. But depending on what you were looking for, you didn't find many supporters for him on social media who were gloating about his verdict. They were there, outside the courthouse, celebrating their fallen hero who had risen from the ashes. They were there outside his home, aching to get a glimpse of their hero.
Social media has helped us reach out to wider audiences like never before. At the same time, it has made us extremely cautious about the image we want to portray about ourselves to the world. You don't want to tell the world how you live, you want them to think you live in a certian way. Listening to Bappi Lahiri and Anu Malik is reserved for headphones, what you share on your wall is Drake's latest. In the real world, you eat leftover biryani and curry but what you post is that one image of that risotto you ordered on salary day. Facebook, twitter and instagram make us look more interesting than we are and our lives infinitely more exciting than they really are.
We are all prisoners of this.
To every client who laments that their likes on social media isn't translating to sales on ground has been sucked into the same vortex of measuring self -worth and popularity because someone somewhere spent half a second clicking the like button.
When you see people sitting in groups hunkered down on their smart phones tweeting, liking or sharing something, what they are saying indirectly to the other person is ‘you are more interesting on social media than you are in real life.’ It sometimes feels like you are on one very long date where you are forced to constantly show your best side without letting your guard down, scared of where the other person will find out who you really are.
Eventually, when the moment arrives where the shackles are off and no one can see what you’re up to, you use that moment to make the most of your deep rooted prejudices, fantasies and insecurities.
And that’s how you get someone like a Donald Trump as the most powerful person of the free world.