Those were the days when Orkut, Myspace, Facebook did not find space in our day to day life. Those were the days when friends meant only friends, i.e. living beings of bone & flesh. There were no terms like chat friend, email friend, Facebook friend, sms friend, group friend and all. The term Friend just got diluted in the world of Social Networking.
I remember one of my friend, a chat friend to be precise, a friend who was about five years younger to me, but was addicted to internet. That friend of mine exposed me to the terms like chat friend, sms friend etc, i was an ignorant, may be an old schooled guy out of sync with these changing definitions of relationships.
My intrusion into this world of social networking began little belatedly. I was initiated into this world, through Orkut (R.I.P. Orkut). My friends were far ahead of me in increasing their social networks and adding “friends” on Orkut. I consoled myself telling that i was a loner even in this virtual world. Slowly my “friend list” too started expanding and i completed a good century of “friends” to boast off by the time Orkut died a natural death. It still is alive but taking its last breath.
Facebook integrated just everybody, people got so addicted to it that most of us started spending huge amount of time on it. It used innovative apps to ensure that its members kept on coming back. Addictive Games like Farmville, Cityville etc were bye product of it. Once my wife called me while travelling back from office to home, and phew, what did she ask me to do, she asked me to harvest her “field” on farmville on facebook. I got so furious at this level of addiction. I was busy into something and she called me telling that her brinjals would be ready by 8, initially i thought that she may be reaching home earlier and cooking some stuff with brinjals, but i was amazed to hear that she had sowed brinjals some time before and it was required to be harvested by 8 pm and since i would be back at home by then, she expected me to harvest the crop for her. Such was the addiction of facebook. Even i tried my hands in my “virtual farm”, before getting bored from all this.
One has to really understand the fine line between addiction and enjoyment. Nothing should be enjoyed beyond its expiry date, else it only hurts. One has to learn to distinguish life between virtual life and real life. People who do fail to do so get looted, cheated, even murdered and raped. We have heard so many cases where people are looted and killed by Internet Friends.
One has also to note that friendship is not nurtured through just “adding” friends and “liking” their posts, it has to be cultivated by trust. In fact friendship by social media is not a real one, i have seen instances where relations are soured by these social media. For instance, one friend of mine used to stay in “online” mode but never found enough time to chat with anybody due to pressures of work. One friend of his started feeling offended by this behavior and surmised that the friend did not wanted to talk and that he has changed. He, without feeling it necessary to inquire the cause, deleted the friend, the person who got deleted now thought other way round and their friendship just ended. When they realized the real reason, they tried to patch up, but once relations sours, the sweetness of it never comes back.
Another such instance of social networking hurted a poor mom working in my office, a devout christian lady, who is in her late forties, she works round the clock for her kids and her family. And it was her birthday. She expected her family members would wish her, but they were too busy to do so, at around 11.45 am her son called her to inquire about something, when the lady unable to control her feelings asked him how did he forget her birthday, his reply hurted her even further. He said, no mom i did not forget, see i wished you on Facebook. The poor lady was so angry. She said my son now requires Facebook to convey messages to me. She felt very bad that day.
Social Networks like Facebook has created funny occasions as well, once a guy posted a photo of his dad who expired some days back and quoted below the bad news. And the photos got some 30 “Likes”.
Social Networking was meant to create a symbiotic network of friends and families and workers and pals, it helps to some extent, Sites like Facebook has helped a lot in information dissemination, i have experienced it myself. While working in one social group, one person’s dad required a rare kind of blood group, we circulated his appeal over facebook and he got the donor some 200 kms away, the donor came and donated the blood. But one must not forget that social media, social networks are just applications or softwares to connect people, the problem is not in the software per se, it is in the heartware i guess, one has to be programmed to make friends, and maintain friendships and relations.
Make friends, be with them in times of their needs and they will stay with you always, dont just keep on adding friends. By merely adding friends, you can just count them, but wont be able to count on them…