Joining the FB bandwagon wasn't exactly out of a need to widen my social horizons or a result of any techno-fascination.
It was more on account of peer pressure.
What? You AREN'T on FB?
My friends looked down on me as if being a Facebook virgin equaled being a maladjusted sociopath.
Actually, I'm a little shy… I fumbled in a lame bid to justify this blasphemy.
Right since my salad days, I have lacked the channel capacity for overt social interaction. Kitty parties, girlie lunches, and coffee dates were all untried dishes on life's to-do menu till I hit a half-century.
Maybe this anomaly has something to do with my sun sign: Gemini.
We Geminians don't really need to look outwards for company – because we are born with an inbuilt zodiac twin. Mine even has a name: Ajup (Puja spelled backward).
Ajup is everything I'm NOT. She's fun-loving; I am boring. She's gregarious; I am reticent. She loves Salman Khan; I despise the guy.
But Ajup is great company. Together we both can spend hours... days... years... happily immersed in hobbyland. Whenever a social situation 'befalls' us, we reluctantly put our rendezvous on hold.
Our relationship leaves me with scant vacant hours. Social media, therefore, has always seemed dispensable – which brings me back to my story about how I joined Facebook under peer pressure when all my rants about being in a 'happy zone on my own' failed to cut ice with my friends.
Apparently, only smugglers, history-sheeters and the like, avoid social platforms I am told. That did it. Not wanting to be a blot on the family name, I decided to join the FB fraternity and urged my daughter – an FB virtuoso – to brief me on the ropes.
Her tips were pretty straightforward:
Go friend-scavenging on the net. Dig up old contacts (never mind if you haven't met them since World War-II). If someone says... 'you weren't my friend in playschool... you looked through me in high school... you hated me in college... why on earth do you want to be my Facebook friend NOW' ...well, tell 'em you were away on a secret mission to Mars or that you've just recovered from an extended bout of Alzheimer's.
Make sure you rope in as many FaceMates as possible. Remember, the longer your friend list, the more your 'clout'; and the higher your 'perch' on the 'like ladder'.
Like a friend's post? Press 'like'. Love the post? Press 'like'.
Hate the post? Press like.' Basically, 'like' is all there is, and 'like' is all you get whether you like it or not!.
That seems pretty simple – with a serious tilt towards senseless.
I wondered mildly how Mr.Iceberg (or is that Zuckerberg) expected ONE insipid like to compress and express a multitude of human emotions, reactions, and upheavals. Like is so meh. So limp. So dry. It tastes like dandruff!
Anyway, baptism over, FB flung open its wanton gates to Ajup and me.
The FB social waters are swirling with action – beckoning and threatening in equal proportion. I entered gingerly – like a gawky sophomore anticipating ragging on her first day at college.
'Hey... think of FB as a cruise; you are Columbus', Ajup tried pepping me up.
'Naw it's more like a jungle and I'm Goldilocks' I murmured.
Taking a deep cautious breath, I dived in. 30 minutes of tinkering passed. The creases on my forehead started unfurling. The butterflies in my tummy stopped flapping their wings. I even managed a stilted smile. Ajup was happy to see me get into the groove.
And then, suddenly, the corner of my eyes caught those little green dots that show up against your friends' names and tell you who all are online. Well, everybody seemed to be online. It was a jungle out there! Realization dawned – if I could see who all were online, did that mean 'who all' could also see that I was online?
Holy Jesus! Mr. Iceberg? No privacy, you give us! Was I expected to say something? Acknowledge with a hi, perhaps? The thought of getting embroiled in a communication ping pong unnerved me – giving me goosebumps the size of melons.
My daughter hadn't told me anything about those green dots!
Before Ajup could try and salvage the situation, I went scuttling to the 'deactivate' button.
That was my first encounter with FB.
A 30-minute fling that set a new record - making Britney Spear's two days long marriage seem like a decade.
And then realization dawned. My friends' suspicion was spot on. I was INDEED a maladjusted sociopath.
My office cabin was my sanctuary; and Ajup, my sole mate (much to the chagrin of my soul mate).
In fact, in an overzealous attempt to make good my pledge, I looked up the 'people you may know' column on FB and invited every Jill, Jane, and Mary to be my friend.
The week-long exercise earned me 250 'friends.' Not bad, eh, for someone who had led such a lonely social life.
After months of a now on/now gone fling, I have finally managed to stave off the 'off' and become a true blue, bonafide Facebooker.
Such is their command over their circle that they can garner 200 sycophantic likes even if they talk about their morning ablutions. (How come I share something apparently sensible and get just 10-15 likes?)
They are like MF Hussein whose paintings were alleged to command a fortune even if he rhythmically moved his brush to whatever music was being played.
The social warriors can argue their hypothalamus out over every social/political opinion expressed by their friends.
Definitely, the Kshatriyas.
On a positive note, the fence sitters are also the vicarious intellectuals who may not have the gift of expression, but they know a gem when they see one.
The True Blue Intellectuals, or the FB Brahmins
They treat social media as a channel to spread light, awareness, and knowledge for the upliftment of society. They are well worth a follow because they can pollinate your shriveled mind with the gold dust of their perspective.
But they can also be polarizing. So you just have to cross your fingers and hope that their opinion is the RIGHT opinion.
So what is it that makes the social network so addictive?
One quick status update, comment or picture is all it takes to reach out to the whole jingbang. A single word message on someone's wall is enough to rekindle dying relations, and resuscitate dead contacts.
It's a zero calorie, eco-chummy way to socialize. It allows you to hold parties, have discussions, bitch, gossip, admire, without spending a penny on booze, snacks or fuel. No wastage, no traffic jams, no pollution. How's that for eco-friendliness?
Go to your Account Setting, Deactivate your account, and Go To Work!