Ok, so I just signed up for Facebook and started a blog today. Don’t hold it against me or against my right to spew venom against the global conspiracy that is “social networking”.
I resisted for as long as I could. I held out for months while the rest of the literate world raved on about Facebook and Twitter and how Web 2.0 was the best thing since buttered bread (tired cliché intended). Well, I was doing just fine with 1.0.
Let us look at the benefits of avoiding social networking. You can keep your enemies far and your friends farther. In the real world, you keep your work buddies separate from your knitting buddies. No one needs to know what you do every waking moment of every day. You can avoid a party at a socially awkward colleague’s house by saying that you would like to attend, but unfortunate circumstances require you to be at your favorite uncle’s funeral. You can then conveniently slip away from his clutches and sip mojitos in your postmodern apartment while listening to Scooter’s techno-classic Posse (I Need You On the Floor) (extended version, of course). No one needs to know what you do, everyone minds their own business, and the earth keeps revolving.
I have to point out that of course, we are speaking hypothetically here (because you all know that I would never do anything like this to you). But we cannot deny that social networking ruins this fragile, idyllic lifestyle. You use Facebook and your spouse finds out that you commented on a mutual friend’s page when you were supposed to be in an important business meeting. Your attractive friend finds out that you actually have a spouse. And your awkward friend keepings reminding you that he sent you an invitation to be his friend and that you haven’t replied in weeks. Your jig is up and soon or later out of the kindness of your heart you have to let the vile creature into your sanctum sanctorum.
Alas! For me peer-pressure kept mounting and so I had to buckle too. The chattering and the scrapping and the tweeting just wouldn’t stop! Because everyone else was networking online, whenever I entered a room, everyone looked at me like I was straight out of 1984. And I am talking about the year 1984, and not the anti-totalitarian novel by Orwell or the eponymous film with the brilliant, pained method-acting by John Hurt.
I tried to counter social ostracism with outward, deliberate geekiness. There I’d be, drawing my BlackBerry from my holster and texting away like a sophisticated speed-demon, but to what avail? No one took me seriously! Because I didn’t have a Facebook account, in every room and in every bar in this nation, I was a source of ridicule – I was the Geico caveman without the chic couture.
So, I went ahead and signed up and started sending out invitations to people I knew in the flesh so that they could become my buddies in ether (not the paranormal or anesthetic kind). All the while, the website kept reminding me of my inadequacy. I kept adding acquaintances, but was shocked to find out that everyone else had at least one hundred friends. Some had over five hundred! People – that is enough to stage a coup in a small Pacific island! If you are reading this I recommend the island of Tonga and that you act fast since the oceans are rising due to global warming (or likely due to “normal” cyclical fluctuations, if you happen to be lawyer for a Fortune 500 energy company).
The point is I now have to keep inviting people until my ego is satisfied that I have enough so-called friends. I have exhausted my bipedal acquaintances and just recently extended invitations to an apparition in Amityville and a yak in Mongolia. In addition, the system also keeps prompting me that Beyonce and I have a gazillion mutual friends and that I should invite her to be my friend too. Not my fault, so folks stop it, already! I am sure Beyonce already has a BFF who thinks she should have won this year’s Video Music Award.
Another problem I have is that I can’t get by with only a Facebook account. If you didn’t already know, I’m from India and the most popular social networking site there is Orkut. Incidentally, Orkut is also crazy popular in Brazil and I am quite sure that it is because of the coconut connection. Anyways, I had to open an account with Orkut to deal with my cultural schizophrenia. Very few Indians on Orkut communicate in English and those that do, do it very badly. This is not a theory (like evolution), this is a scientific fact. So unwillingly, I had to open a Facebook account for my anglophile friends and an Orkut account to deal with my coconut-crazy desi heritage. And for the record I am not being an elitist bastard here; I will not judge the plebes if they want to drink tap-water and they in turn, should not begrudge me my Evian. And you there grinning on your couch, why don’t you try faking poor English? “Myself am wanting to be your reliable friend,” isn’t as easy as it looks.
I guess life will never be the same again. Like the “can-you-hear-me-now” salesperson in the phone ad, Facebook and Orkut will continue to annoy me forever. Fortunately, there might actually one redeeming feature about social networking. Used effectively, it might actually help a misanthrope like me annoy others. I’ve heard that the experts say that we can expect an unusually brutal winter across North America and I think I’ll post some photographs of the trip I took in summer. What’s some unabashed gloating among friends? Hawaii in May is so lovely!
© 2009-2011, Anirban