Amit Kumar, a college student, has 400 friends and he is still counting. However, his ‘real’ friends add up to only three. Surprised? Well, the 400 are his Facebook friends he has hardly met.
There are many youngsters today who, like Amit, prefer being extrovert and friendly, only in the virtual world. In reality they are too shy and have a few, selected comrades. A study by Assumption College in Massachusetts validates Amit’s case.
It says the more virtual friends you have on your social networking account, the less likely you are to have real friends. Misha, 18, who has over 100 friends on Orkut, says, “The virtual world gives you the confidence to approach a person without any anxiety. It’s easier to conceal one’s real expressions while interacting on the Net than meeting a person face to face.”
For some, it’s a way to vent their emotions, their pains and agony. Twenty-year-old Anamika says, “Once my chat friend was upset about his parents’ discordant relationship and the regular fights that used to take place at his home. He said he couldn’t discuss his family problems with anyone else and took the virtual route.”
In a related study by the University of California, it was observed that social networking sites motivate youngsters to create idealised versions of themselves. They can put their best photographs, change the way they look and explore different aspects of their personality without the fear of being ‘caught’ or ‘judged’.
Even though this urge of self-expression finds an outlet, it is ultimately trapped in a virtual world. Can anyone find pleasure out of a friendship that does not have a ‘real’ jaadu ki jhappi?