The Oxford English Dictionary defines a friend as "a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection". But the social networkers among us know that this is only half the truth. Today, when 'friendship', like an appointment letter, is 'requested' and 'approved', everyone from your co-passenger in the last train journey, the person you woke up with, most-hated cousin or childhood buddy qualifies as a 'friend'. They may not fulfil the conventional duty of friendship - that of standing by you in your hour of need - but you can indeed count on them when it comes to exchanging second-hand wishes on anniversaries or during festivals. It goes without saying that the more the volume of messages exchanged, the more 'mutual affection' there is between two, er, friends.
By this rule, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) may come across to some as an exacting taskmaster, warning us against crossing our limits while making friends. But to us, its decision to cap the number of SMSes (short messaging service) an individual can send each day to 100 appears like a gentle reminder to choose our friends carefully and wisely. The decision will come into effect from September 27 but it has already raised the eyebrows of telemarketers - who have driven TRAI to take this decision - SMS-junkies, couples in long-distance relationships and those who find pleasure in sharing with the world each of the hundreds of forwarded messages they receive from others.
But we, despite regarding the SMS to be the best thing that's happened to the world after the answering machine, are happy to note that somebody has finally stood up to remind us that a hedge between people keeps friendship green. So this festive season, an SMS is all it will take for you to separate your real friends from imposters. And while you will be busy judging others by who sent his wishes and who did not, they will be doing the same, waiting to see if you care to reply.