As 61-year-old Geeta Munshi steps in to our house, she greets us with a wide smile on her face, reflecting her warm nature. Her dark hair is parted in the middle, flowing down to her shoulders and her eyes peer out of the rectangular glasses sitting on her face. She hands my mom a small box of candy and fruit, complimenting our cleanliness and taste in furniture. When I formally introduce myself to her, she shakes my hand with a firm but gentle grip as we make our way to the living room.
After we settle down in the couch with our glasses of ice water, she takes some time getting to know me, asking me how my summer has fared. She looks over the frames of her glasses and nods serenely at my answers.As we continue our conversation, two words come to mind to describe Geeta: grounded and practical.
“It has become very simple to find information, but going on Facebook… I think it’s too much of a waste of time,” she says in a definitive tone. “I’m not too much interested in other people’s lives.”
She attests that she does have a Facebook of her own, but she doesn’t want to use it to connect to any specific people. For her, Facebook is more of a formality, something that everyone has to have nowadays.
“With Facebook, you know, I used to try that. I started putting my posts on Facebook and it got a lot of reactions. If my thoughts really matter to me to share with others, if it’s really something that I need to open up to others, then maybe I will do that. But then people started reacting very much to my thoughts and that was not my goal.”
Geeta hasn’t checked Facebook often since her attempt, and doesn’t plan on doing so in the near future. However, she does cite that it has its uses when it comes to her family, especially since she’d rather observe than interact.
“If I see my daughter is not calling me, then I will see what’s happening in her life [through Facebook]. My daughter puts all her pictures there all the time.”
Despite her occasional foray, she approaches it with caution and some distrust. She tells me that she doesn’t know enough about social media and the technology that it requires to be confident about what she’s doing.
“I’m not much very into Instagram. You know, like with YouTube, I go and watch news and sometimes my favorite games, tennis, some movies–especially Indian movies–or some clips of my favorite artist. I do go on and listen to that. It’s finding me better.
“In general, the Internet is okay. Until we get the information, it’s fine. But the misuse of the Internet is dangerous. If someone invades our privacy, then I don’t feel safe.”
Geeta confesses that she doesn’t really understand why people are so preoccupied with social media. It lacks tangibility, therefore it’s something she can’t be bothered with. She wants her daily experiences to be “real”: something she can physically interact with and/or listen to in real time.
“Mingling with people, going to them, talking to them or calling them always make me happy. But if they call me, then I’m happy to hear their voices. If I want to see my grandkids, I prefer that they come to my home. If someone’s living too far away, then once in a while I go to see them.
“And I have a lot more interest in reading, singing, and doing gardening. If I sit on Facebook, I can see that it’s taking my valuable time. I have many other interesting things to do.”
Although she doesn’t like to concern herself too much with the digital world, she nevertheless sees the benefits of such advancements and understands why it’s important.
“Five years ago, things were really different than today. Anybody can approach you in a minute and that’s an advantage of technology. It’s cheaper, you don’t have to spend much money, you just send a message and it’s there. Those are the good sides of it. But to keep myself involved in it for a long time, I don’t see myself doing that.”
The thought makes her pause momentarily, and she wonders if there’s something wrong with her because she’s not as familiar with technology and is indifferent to social media. There’s certainly many benefits to being involved with both, but are you missing out on too much if you choose not to firmly grasp it like everyone else?
“Sometimes I feel like I’m too much in myself,” she says, motioning both hands towards her chest. “Every other person I meet is using Facebook and looking at other people’s progress. It’s not like that for me even though I do like to see what’s going on around me, who’s doing what, and things like that.”
“If I want to see something online, that’s good. Maybe after I get retired that would be a good thing, to connect myself to other people,” she eventually reasons. “But I’m a busy person.”