It was two years back that I read about this exciting new word game on the block that had taken the cyber world by storm. Am not much into gaming, the dexterity required eludes me. But I am hopelessly hooked on to word games. The joy of discovering new words (khi, titi, dado, apod)is unmatched. The game can get ruthless at times, but showing off your vocabulary has never been this fun. I wasted no time in creating an account on FB. Thus began my dalliance with the world of social networking.
So far I had successfully (well almost) managed to evade the lure of such sites. I had joined Orkut briefly. But the lack of privacy always rankled. My mailbox was inundated with enquires from strange males curious to know whether I was the elusive Purba they had been looking for years. All these years I was under the mistaken impression that mine was a unique name, until now. Within a few weeks I had managed a few stalkers and men desperate to have an affair. Disgusted I deleted my account.
My first few months on Facebook were uneventful. I had ventured into this unchartered territory with a gaggle of my friends. We were a close knit circle of thirty, playing Scrabble with passion. New terms baffled me: a wall to scribble messages on, status updates, notifications, getting poked. There was an exciting new world on my desktop waiting to be explored. What a convenient and novel way to keep in touch with your many friends and relatives scattered around the globe, I would often muse. I even managed to unearth my brother under a Jim Morrison inspired pseudonym. Here was a forum where everyone was sharing their opinions, sentiments and even trivial details of their lives. It was through FB I saw my nephew grow up from a cuddly baby to a cherubic angel in far off Baton Rouge. Shared my friend’s excitement as she traversed the East Coast on a solo trip to the US through her many pics and posts. A lyrical ode here, a scene captured there, the seduction was gradual but irreversible. Whenever I could manage some free time I would plonk myself in front of the system, gleefully share links, leave comments or just play my turns on Scrabulous.
On FB you cannot remain anonymous for long. My many ex-students sniffed out my trail and I was bombarded with friend requests. I did accept a few and was now privy to the psyche of the young Indian mind. I am in lurvvvv...teehee....Luv is nyc... Noooo...Yess?? (Subject to interpretation) My powers of deduction were getting severely tested and I was experiencing mild trauma. My news feeds were definitely getting spicier. X took a quiz “How good are you in a bed” Result: Man, you are a nympho. Y just downloaded the Lady Timer. Z just tagged you as “The one with the best body”. I had a choice between squirming and sighing in relief. It could have been worse (the indomitable optimist speaks) - “Best Hag” would have certainly incurred my wrath. To preserve my sanity I now use the hide function to protect me from unsavoury truths of life.
It never ceases to amaze me how even perfectly sane adults are capable of taking the most inane quizzes and add insult to injury by having the results published. Which shoe do I resemble the most?? Which female superhero are you? Which musical are you? A bunch of retarded questions masquerading as a quiz with even more retarded results.
And the status messages some of us write. Agreed the name Facebook stems from the colloquial name of books given to grad students at the start of academic year with the intention of getting to know each other. But posting details about your breakfast or your latest splurge at Bodyshop is definitely not welcome. Some people can write the dullest status messages. “Waiting for the flight to Dallas at Newark airport” “Have a toothache” “The avocados just gave me a rash”. To me it sounds more like an exchange between a husband and wife. CNN went to the extent of listing the “The 12 most annoying types of facebookers” “The-let-me-fill-you-on-every-detail-of-my-life bore” “The self promoter” (is that me?) “The friend-padder”, “The lurker” to name just a few.
They forgot to add the Farmville enthusiast. You can spot this individual from a mile. Farmville, Mafia Wars, Hatchlings or any new fangled application is their raison-d’être. Their wall is chock-a- block with gargoyles acquired, warehouse eggs hatched and fertilizer collected. Their status messages read more like Oscar acceptance speeches where they often thank their friends for helping them build the barn or some such thing. I admit I had joined this strange breed albeit briefly. For a few weeks my routine centred on the endless cycle of ploughing, sowing and harvesting crops. I was saving lost kitties, collecting eggs and tending to my cows. On my trip to Jaisalmer I actually logged in just to save my dying crops. Thankfully my fascination did not last long. I was becoming the butt of jokes of my family members and one fine day I bid adieu to the fascinating world of virtual farming.
But I have been fiercely loyal to FB. There have been temptations galore - Twitter, Myspace and now Google buzz. But I am content with my hundred odd friends on FB. I still play Scrabulous, now in its new avatar Lexulous. I owe my interest in blogging to a note I shared with my friends on this network. The overwhelming feedback made me think of taking writing seriously. Yes, I have this obsessive compulsion of checking my account every few hours and on days I can’t I end up feeling restless. My husband has a new term of endearment for me.....addict. Of late I have been reading about a new movement called virtual suicide i.e deleting all your social networking accounts in one go. Has that thought ever entered my mind? Not even for a fraction of a second. The kind of trash they now show on television I’d rather be the addict I am made out to be. And isn’t Internet one of the nominees for the Nobel prize for peace. So here I am logging in yet again for the sake of world peace.