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The age of the digital eulogy

This weekend saw a horrible tragedy in the form of the death of VJ turned model turned writer and documentary film-maker, Quratulain (Annie) Ali Khan, in her apartment in Karachi. As per media reports, her demise occurred due to a fire lit amongst her books as she tried to burn them, and has been termed as suicide. As soon as this news broke people from the industry started putting up statuses and tweets, recounting times they had worked with her, what she represented and so on. Some even saw it fit to put up pictures of her modelling, posing at various events, and so on. That really struck a chord with me.

How is it that someone who has so many friends, as evident by social media, had not been reached out to when she was in need of help? Is it that we tend to forget our colleagues and do not recognize the signs that they need help, before the inevitable happens? Is it that we aren’t really close to who has demised, but are using this tragic moment to get in touch with our humanity once more, as we are jarred out of the rat race? Or is it that we are just so completely unaware of what friendships and relationships mean today, that we can only eulogize digitally?

Not to say that people can’t express themselves online, but lately it seems that the more connected we get the more isolated we become. It’s as if we are in such blazing touch with one another digitally, that real human interaction has been diminished to a sub human level and we are surviving on instant attention gratification by social media as our fix.  So instead of going over to a friend’s house I would put up a picture of us together, which might lead to faster gratification but can’t really replace the real interaction.

We have also failed to realize how algorithms and artificial intelligence is gently prodding us into neat little bubbles of what I call ‘same thought circles’. If anything appears out of the ordinary from our vacation picture sharing, MashAllah saying, celebrity hopping selves, it is instantly downgraded to a distant corner of our feed so we can’t even notice that cry for help that may have come.

All in all, it’s down to a lazy and sedentary lifestyle that sees anything beyond a few button presses as too much work and effort. Although it is that very effort, and what we now call ‘going out of the way’, which leads to a good support system and friends (actual friends) that you can count on. Actual friends, that should have been there for Annie and countless others like her…

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