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BB, the ultimate BFF

For the first time in 24 years, I felt a frisson of disconnect. Last week, a close friend's younger brother was down with dengue and needed blood. I was the last one to learn of it. Shalini Singh writes.

india Updated: Sep 02, 2010 21:50 IST
Shalini Singh

For the first time in 24 years, I felt a frisson of disconnect. Last week, a close friend's younger brother was down with dengue and needed blood. I was the last one to learn of it. Ever since we were 5, we have shared every moment of joy, sorrow, event, non-event. Being left in the dark wasn't because I had suddenly become a pariah. If anything, text messages, chats, social networking etc have kept us even more connected over the years. So what happened this time?

Well, I wasn't on my friends' BlackBerry network.

The feeling of disconnect quickly gave way to dutiful concern. Another friend informed me that it had taken them 15 minutes to find eight donors for blood. And it was simple: a message was beamed from one friend to people on his BlackBerry (BB) group, and all its members passed it on within their circles and in minutes, their devices were buzzing with volunteer donors. And just in time too as the blood was needed 'immediately'.

Two days later, as if on cue, someone I know narrated a similar incident. Her colleague's hospitalised brother needed blood and it was a matter of 20 minutes after she sent out a message on her BB network that matching donors — friends of friends of friends... — promptly beeped to volunteer.

Another time, she said, when she was stranded when her car broke down in a remote area of Delhi, she buzzed her network. Her friends sent out SOS messages and it managed to reach someone living in that area who bailed her out. The 'victim' and the 'unknown saviour' became friends.

This BB thing was interesting. I turned to an old mentor. "What can I say?" he said, "It has become a 'digital cockpit' of one's life even if you don't include office... I take it to the loo instead of newspapers, I read everything on it." And it's also the solution to boredom: "There's always someone to chat with in mind-numbing conferences. It's my caffeine drip!" he raved.

I sat two of my BB-toting girlfriends down at a coffee shop to get to know this recent entrant in our circle better. "I have a Thought For The Day group. You know, we ping each other with spiritual quotes we hear during the day. Then there's the Gym Buddies group, one group each for my college and colony pals. My favourite is the All Girly one where we exchange diet tips and of course, there's the school friends one. But like our batch is one group, the seniors are another..." Her pink nails guided me through the device when it suddenly buzzed. "That's our Dirty Jokes group," she smiled as she read out one.

So doesn't it get tiring to be connected this way all the time? "No dude. You put it on silent if you don't want to be disturbed. But I'm always connected especially in case of emergencies. You saw how quickly we got donors that day." Oh well, I thought, perhaps it's time to reconnect with the people I've known all my life.