Is the constant display of vanity in the virtual world forcing people to choose the invisibility cloak? The launch of two apps Cloak and Split and their popularity definitely seems to indicate the former. We get experts to examine this new anti-social trend.
Invisibility apps help one escape and avoid awkward situations
Varkha Chulani, clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, says, "Unfortunately, the virtual world is gaining more significance in our lives than the 'actual-in-the-flesh' world! So, people have lost their ability to directly say what they want to and resort to apps to make life simpler. In the good old days one would simply 'break-up' by saying so. Today break-ups are being made such a big deal of that people are finding it easier to use 'escape' than to face what they need to. In a way aps are becoming a medium of convenience and humans who are anyways seekers of immediate pleasure and as little pain are getting exactly what they want! To avoid discomfort through apps!"
Constant online presence has resulted in social fatigue
She adds, "In a way, I think we have over connected. To be constantly accessible can be very annoying and many want to escape that. Privacy is at a premium now and most people are hankering for that. So, in a way these apps may be a boon if used sensibly. However, I wonder why need an app at all! Switch your phone off, don't be logged on and hey you have instant privacy! No need of apps!"
Not the end, just an alternative to meet a demand
Psychiatrist Anjali Chhabria however, has a different take on it. She says, "I think to label these apps as a outcome of over exposure online or social fatigue is a bit premature. Contrary to what naysayers would like us to believe, the fact is the popularity of apps that help you stay in touch with one another has not diminished. The launch of 'so-called' anti-social apps is just a fulfilling for a need. There are sections for both sides – the one's who can't switch off and have to be constantly in touch via social networking sites or apps and those who guard their privacy, and want the comfort and solace that an app that promises invisibility gives them."
So, it looks like while the anti-social trend is gaining momentum, it still is in its nascent stage. How long before we decide to completely switch off remains to be seen.
About the apps
Cloak and Split work by pulling in geo-data from people's Instagram and Foursquare accounts, pinning users down to whichever street they're posting from (and thereby enabling you to dodge them completely).