I almost quit Facebook yesterday. I really did seriously consider it. No, not because I am among the unfortunate few whose mom is on FB and have to deal with questions like "Who is that?" or worser still "What is that?" on every picture or comment posted. That's a pain I have learnt to live with in this, the information age. I like getting on to Facebook and Orkut too much to really quit it whole-sale. Commenting and album surfing are too much of a fun activity to give up completely. The only reason the thought ran across my head was that I came online on Yahoo Messenger after many years and ran into a very rare kind of friend.
Rare because this buddy of mine is not on any of the social networks be it Orkut or Facebook or any of the others (Are there any left alive?). Back in the day, he mistakenly signed up for Yahoo and that's where he remains. One of my closest friends, we had spent the majority of our school life as part of our regular crew of pals hanging out, playing terrace cricket, early morning cycle races, pre-tuition post-tuition video gaming and all those wonderful things that only kids can get away with. Growing up sucks (Boo hoo) but that's a different issue and here I will get back to the topic. It was so awesome to get in touch with him again. Where are you, what are you up to, how's the old hometown, remember how we used to sneak past the stadium security guards to religiously play our game of evening cricket, you went to the US?, you bought a Pulsar - hey me too, mine's red! - all questions and answers put forward with an intention of actually listening and filling in the gaps. Waves of nostalgia and a uber cool buddy-buddy feeling swamped us both.
As opposed to if he were on FB. Every week or so, his face would pop on my news-feed or if he were as hyperactive as me, he would pop up daily! I would know where he was, how he was and all those details without ever having to talk to him as in virtual terms he'd be shouting about it from the rooftops. When I'd talk to him, there wasn't much to talk about now because "Hey, I went to the US!" would be met with "I know... (those pictures you uploaded stayed on my home page forever)", "Hey! I bought a red Pulsar" would be replied by "Yeah, I saw your status message...(and the 10000 comments that followed below it)" So boring, so meaningless would be our conversation since there wasn't anything to really learn and laugh about.
Facebook, Orkut and their brothers have driven a real thrill out of our lives. To bump into somebody from our past in a foreign city, to jump up in joy and to negotiate the stream of questions from both ends - all that is unfortunately something that happened to people in the past. Now that someone is a friend, he/she stays on your life's home page and within easy contact forever. Forever in this case is boring because it is just too much information. Almost everything you wanted to know or did not want to know is on public display. Sometimes a long separation is necessary to make the old connections even stronger. In an ironical twist, this post is going onto my FB status, but I was tempted, really tempted yesterday to get the mystery and adventure of not knowing back into my life.
Anuranjan Roy is a regular contributor to Scroll. He blogs at http://virtual-inksanity.blogspot.com