Friday, March 25, 2011

The Social Network

You just don’t board a train only to travel. You step into a new life for a period of time. You experience some really weird, new, funny or life changing things many a times. The last time I travelled in a train, I witnessed an epiphany. A major one, to be precise.

We were in a group of three. We got into our coach and quickly unloaded ourselves with our luggage, put it under the berths and sat down to relax. I looked around. There was chaos everywhere. Suddenly, train started moving. The rumpus settled. Finally! I again looked around with a hope of finding a hot girl near my place. All I could see were some old people fighting over a stupid topic, that whether the lead protagonist of some Baalika Vadhu serial was supposed to fight with her husband or not. I rolled my eyes from their place to side berth. There was a guy sitting with his eyes closed with earphones in his ears. I smiled and took out mine. Just when I was about to browse through the media files my friend from upper berth came down.

“Oh! Android?” he asked. “Yeah!” I grinned. “Since when? I thought you had a java phone.” “ I used to. Until a couple of days back.” My grin got wider. “Dena bey 2 min ke liye. I’ll update my facebook status. It’ll say via Android. My friends will ask about it then.” He laughed. “Abey ruk, mujhey apna update karne de pehle.”  I replied. A sense of pride generated in me. My another friend spoke up, “I just updated my status saying, ‘My hometown, here I come!’ ” “How many liked it? And any comments?” I laughed. Old people stopped discussing Baalika Vadhu. They were looking at us now, bewildered. That guy on side berth was not listening to songs now. He was listening to our conversation. ‘Stupid Kids!’, they all must be thinking. I realized this later. A dual flashlight broke my reverie. I looked at my friends. They clicked a photo of themselves and uploaded it on facebook saying, ‘We in train’. “Yey! Two likes!! Oye, Smita also likes this. She likes you. Doesn’t she?” He seemed overjoyed. I felt jealous. Smita liked his pic and not mine. What’s wrong in me? Or does she really like him? At this point of time the guy sitting on side berth stood up and came near us.

“Can I sit here?” He asked. I looked at him; he looked confident and surprisingly had a lot of positive vibes around him. “Umm…Yea Yeah, of course! Why not!” I stammered. “You three from same college?” “Same class as well.” My friend answered. “He turned to me, “Travelling till last station?” “Yeah”. I replied blankly. I was not gay but I couldn’t resist from watching him continuously. Sorry, replace ‘was’ in the last sentence with ‘am’.

“Addicted to facebook you guys. Haan?” He said with a mysterious smile on his face. “Everyone is. Well almost!” I added the last part after watching those old men. “What is facebook to you?” He asked us expecting a reply from each of the three. “Facebook is the medium by which I can stay connected with my closed ones.” I said. He looked at my friends. “Same. I get to know what my friends are doing and they get to know what I am doing.” “Is that all?” The guy asked. “I guess so.” “And what about you?” He asked my friend. “Facebook is the place where I can be all what I cannot be in real life.” The guy smiled. Both of my friends gave me a Who-is-he-and-what-is-he-doing-in-our-group look. I signaled them to remain quiet. “Why do you ask?” “Just like that. I wanted to know your views.” He replied. I wasn’t satisfied. I asked him to elaborate. “To me Facebook is that ostentatious place where we just try to pretend to be very interesting and cool humans. It’s all about likes and comments. Oh well! I’m sorry I’m not supposed to comment on all of this. I’m being the intruder.” He was about to get up.

“No it’s okay. Actually I was being uncomfortable earlier but now that you’ve expressed your views, I want to know the elaborated part.” My friend spoke up this time. Even those old men looked interested. “How can you say facebook is ostentatious? I mean why such harsh opinion?” I asked. “See I’ve nothing against anything. Even I do have my profile but I don’t pass out much of my personal info there. All of my closed ones know everything about me. For sharing my whereabout details I text them. To share pics and images, I use e-mail. For other friends, the info about me is sufficient. But again, this is my personal opinion.”

He made sense. But I had to defend my point. “Sms and email take much time and you have to send them to numerous people all the time. Facebook is easy. Just one click and your details are shared with everyone. Moreover, if you’re so concerned about your privacy breach, Facebook has an option of hiding your info from selected people.” “Well, now I’d like to put forth my second statement to prove my point. Posing and editing the pics, and flaunting your wits in your statements are never bad things. In fact they are good. But, if you try to pretend you’re witty by plagiarizing the lines from here and there and using them as if they were yours, is a turn off. And, you only edit your pic when you know you are not looking good and you want to. Again you’re pretending to be smart and handsome.  Again, flaunting your English language is always good but it is of no use when you can’t converse in English. Why pretend to be a Shakespeare when you can’t even speak one line correctly? That’s only because, you think English is a cool language and people will be impressed with your superb lingo. And they are not always wrong. They are sometimes right too, until they hear you speak.

All three of us looked at each other silently without knowing what to speak. Old men were smiling. They knew someone was speaking their minds out. “I’m sorry I didn’t ask your name. I’m Naveen.” I said, offering my hand. “Call me Lebnox.” He said, shaking my hand and smiling. Such a hypocrite, I thought. Telling a fake name and talking about ostentatiousness.

Anyway, he at least was making sense. “Nice to meet you, Lebnox.” I said, with a pretentious smile. “Also, many relationships get spoiled cuz of it. You look smart but not your friend. But he gets more likes on his profile picture than you, that too without editing. You do lots of editing and try to look smarter but no one likes your pic. You develop jealousy. You have more hot girls in your friend list than your friend, and they post numerous naughty and cute things on your wall for everyone to see and your friend starts hating you for this. He will never admit it though. Never! Your status and comments get more likes than your friend’s status and comments, he may start to backstab you to reduce the number of likes.
But, you make lots of virtual friends in that process. And a very wise person once told me, the wonderful thing about virtual friends is, knowing they exist in real life.  So it’s always upto you. Who do you choose, real friends whom you know personally and who know everything about you. Or virtual friends who are always there to praise whenever you want them to. And, they only know good things about you and can fake anytime to make you feel their presence.” He finished speaking. At least I thought he finished. Moreover, I was afraid I’d deactivate my account after hearing these many things. I looked at my friends, they gave me Kya-bey-sada-diya look.

At least there is no harm in having fun and using it as a stress buster. Or is there any?”My friend asked in an innocent and scared manner. Lebnox laughed. “Who am I to say you should do this or you shouldn’t do this? I was just putting forward my views. But if you seriously want to know what’s on my mind, I’d say, everything should be done in a controlled and a light manner. Do not make it your obsession; do not develop strong opinions just by having a look at anyone’s profile and also, try to interact more with new people in real life. That shall help you in a better manner. Adding random people on facebook won’t help in any way until you’ve a reason behind adding them. You cannot make a girlfriend just by adding any hot girl on facebook, if you know what I mean!” He winked. It was 1.30 A.M. Everyone was asleep. Even those really old people. “Did you update your status that you’ll be arriving tomorrow morning and boring times for others are over? Via Android?” He passed a boisterous laugh and suddenly stopped himself after looking around. I felt embarrassed. “Don’t worry, just keep those three things in mind which I told you and keep being an active Facebook member. There is no harm. Albeit there is lots of fun.” He smiled and finished. This time, actually! He went back to his berth and a few moments later he was asleep. I recalled all the things he said and closed my eyes. My friends started watching porn on their cellphones. Such addiction, I tell you. Such addiction.

PS: The writer loves facebook and is an addict and won’t stop editing his pics and flaunting his wits.

PS2: The writer has nothing against old people. In fact he respects them a lot. Also he doesn’t know who Lebnox is, incase people have intentions of murdering him.