It is a pity, and I am dead serious, that my grandmother did not have an opportunity to access the social networking websites. It’s possible that her friends’ list would not have been as long as mine (and I am not showing off my magnetic charm here). But at least she would have been in touch more often with her brother, who one fateful day decided to cross the seven seas to try his luck in the Brave New World.
Yes, I am a firm believer in social networking and I am hyper-active on Orkut, “an online community that connects people through a network of trusted friends”. As I write this, I can already hear my opposite camp (who, I imagine, are ardent admirers of the Indian Postal Service and fills its coffers by buying blue inlands and yellow postcards in dozens) crying hoarse about the inanity of messages posted on the scrapbooks, the ‘low standard’ of discussion that takes place in such open forums and the lack of privacy that is taken for granted once you put your tongues to good use for sealing those inland letters.
I admit all the above accusations are true. Yes, we talk in monosyllables at times. And though we are all members of some high-sounding clubs, we don’t discuss intellectual stuff all the time, err most of the time.
So, how many times when friends actually get together, do we discuss so-called meaningful topics? And, if being a member of some film director’s fan club, telling the world about books or movies you like and your personal likes and dislikes on these networking sites are construed as exhibitionism, then so be it. Don’t we do the same thing when we meet new people at get-togethers and parties? C’mon, that’s the way new friends are made, be it online or offline.
And privacy? When you know the world is there to see your messages, then what is the point of writing your state secrets? You can jolly well do that the old-fashioned way: through emails. Such forums are not meant for opening your Pandora’s box of secrets anyway. Admit it, we all network all the time and this is just an extension of our social existence.
For people like us who graduated from pen-friendships to scribbling on Orkut, the basic principle has always remained the same: extending the circle of friends and keeping in touch with the old ones, the real old ones.
After joining the site, I am back in touch with at least five of my Class IV gang after decades. To some, it may seem a complete waste of time; to me this is an opportunity to re-connect with people who once formed my little world. Social networking? Well, if you insist.