When you see a practically illiterate Pappu Singh happily singing ‘Tweeter ke do aage tweeter, tweeter ke do peechhe tweeter’, while frying pakoras in his dhabha, you know that online social networking has arrived in the true sense. ‘So even you know about Twitter now?’ I asked Pappu Singh, laying enough emphasis on the right pronunciation so that he stops singing the silly ‘tweeeeeter’ song.
‘Madam, tweeter koi cheez hai computer mein... jis se Bittoo Salman Khan se baat karta hai,” (Twitter is something in a computer which Bittoo uses to talk to Salman Khan). I figured Pappu Singh’s humble family is seeing a net savvy generation in his younger brother Bittoo. But that also gave me an indication of how deep social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have got inside the urban psyche which, conversely, also implies that somewhere it must a nagging point or source of stress for those who don’t have a clue about what these sites are.
Let me quote from a letter I recently got from Akshay, a regular reader of this column. “I would like to share my stress with you. I am 19 years old and not on Orkut, Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking site, as I don’t have a computer at home. I use a computer in my college laboratory but these sites are banned there. Lately, I feel totally left out and a misfit in my friends’ circle as all that they talk about is each other’s Facebook status and what the celebrities are posting on Twitter. One day a friend told me, ‘If you are not on Facebook or Twitter, you don’t exist.’ I sometimes feel like leaving my group altogether. Should I?”
Well, Akshay, first let me tell you that despite the millions of users these popular websites claim to have, you are still in the company of billions more who don’t give a damn about being on these sites. And I’m not even counting those who do not know what a computer is. There are people who are computer and Internet savvy — but have consciously decided to stay away from social networking revolution because they value their privacy and do not want to get into the rut only for the heck of it.
Then, there are many more who were users of these sites at one point and decided to quit because they could not take the stress of keeping up with it, day in and day out. The Internet is full of websites that help such stressed souls to quit social networking sites. So whoever gives you grief about ‘you not existing in the world’ if you are not on these sites, deserves your pity, not attention.
However, there is a difference between not wanting to be somewhere and not knowing what it is. Because the latter signifies ignorance, which may, at some point, give you valid reason to feel ill informed, in today’s context.
My calmness tip, therefore to Akshay, and all those who scratch their heads on reading endless articles and references to Facebook and Twitter everyday in the papers, is to get on the bandwagon once, if possible. And then take a decision, based on whether you enjoy it or not, to stay or quit.
Don’t remain ignorant only because the concept seems intimidating at the outset. Remember how intimidating the thought of learning computers seemed to most of us, when we started out. Now it seems like a part of life. It’s fairly easy to figure out these sites, even if you have access to Internet only through cyber cafes or mobile phones. At least that way, if someone tries to give you a complex about not being on these sites, you could shrug and say they were not ‘good enough’ for you. It’s your life… and how social you would like it to be is entirely your choice… no one else’s.
Sonal Kalra thinks if in place of Akshay, Shashi Tharoor hadn’t been on twitter, his life would have been much happier today.
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