Definition of a Friend according to the Oxford dictionary:

  • somebody emotionally close to another
  • somebody who has a casual relationship with another, for example, a business acquaintance
  • somebody who is not an enemy
  • somebody who defends or supports a cause, group, or principle

The 21st century technology has indeed gone past unimaginable limits and it surely has given birth to a new type of relationship – an ‘online’ friendship. I feel a new definition also has to be added in the dictionary.

Today, there a number of sites which provide a platform for creating and engaging in what is known as ‘online’ friendship. Some of the hugely popular sites include Facebook, Orkut, Hi5, Fropper and there are some scores of other not so popular sites. As every system has some merits and demerits, networking sites are no different.

According to a July 2010 web report, the total members in Facebook are 500 million and Orkut has around 35 million. The numbers tell the story. Social networking sites, a brainchild of some of the 21st century cyber geeks, have indeed swept the world like a raging forest fire. Besides the total member count, Facebook registers a staggering 5 million visitors and Orkut around 1.3 million visitors everyday. Today, the concept of friendship has changed like anything. This is all the statistical philosophy of technological friendship in which I am least interested. The interesting part is the useless task cum conversation which went on between me and two of my friends.

Today, social networking sites have proved to be one of the best sources of timepass. According to a latest survey (survey of users of networking sites) report published on the net,  an average person (including me) who gets bored at any point of time, logs in to a social networking site. He/she checks his scraps (or may be the number of fans following/ the number of new comments on his wall… depends on the site he/she uses) like a business person who checks his/her company’s share value in the market. There are surprisingly many people whose antidote for boredom is the same; entertainment from social networking sites.

Yesterday was a Sunday and it was a boring day for me. I could not go out anywhere since it was raining heavily. However, I had the company of my two friends Aravind, an internet whizkid and Kiran, a kid. So, beating the boredom wasn’t so difficult. Since we three are average hopeless persons, the next good useless thing for us was to log on to the social networking sites. I don’t understand why my brain has got so much addicted to that (when millions of people around the world are addicted, who am I to be different?)

First, it was my chance. I logged on into Orkut and Facebook, both simultaneously. By this act of mine, someone might feel I am one of the most happening people. I checked for any updates but my account is so very stagnant and non-happening that except for the date on the homepage, nothing else changes.  It never draws any crowd at all. I put new photos, write some snazzy headlines on the homepage, send plenty of friend requests to unknown people but all in vain. Sometimes I feel, among the 500 million odd users, I am the sole visitor and appreciator of my profile. Sometimes I feel I should mail Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook) and Google (creator of Orkut) and ask some tricks to increase friends in the list and make the account happening. Sometimes I wonder why is it so difficult to increase the number of friends (I desire to increase only the feminine count in my list) online. Many a times I wonder that boys having friends in the range of 100s and more, must be having a magnet inside their account or must have created some form of virus which would draw crowd. However, I feel these thoughts are of Nuisance Value, a term familiarized to us by Nana Patekar in the movie Ab Tak Chappan. You may have a thousand friends, a huge fan following, great looks on your photos and the subsequent numerous comments that follow. It doesn’t make any difference to anyone. That’s nuisance value.

As I took my hands off the mouse in dejection, Aravind snatched it in no time. He is a kind of person who stresses more on quality of friends than quantity. Moreover, he doesn’t believe in online friendship. It’s just for the timepass. Everyone has his/her own perception. Aravind did not stay online for more than 5 mins and it was the chance for Kiran to log in.

Kiran is very active and hyper ambitious in social networking. But the bad part is that even he isn’t able to draw traffic to his account. He logged in to only Facebook because he considers Orkut outdated. Aravind and I were just watching him browse with sheer hope. He has some 80 odd friends and has joined some 40 communities. Except for a couple of useless scraps there was nothing worth for him to stay online. But he began opening some of the profiles of dirty boys who had friends in the range of 500 or more.

Kiran: My god! Look at this dude (pointing to some profile). He is having 1000 odd friends. He is the real dude I must say. Saala apna kismet hi kharaab hai. Jitna bhi koshish karo friends increase hi nahi hote. Kitne ladkiyan hai dekh iske network mein.

Aravind: You fool! Grow up man. He may be having a thousand or ten thousand friends. But is it making any difference to the country. Is his beautiful youth making any useful effect on the country? No na. Then what’s the use? Don’t you remember what Aamir said in Rang De Basanti? Jawani jo desh ke kaam na aaye woh bekaar jawani hai. Morever, he himself will have forgotten who his friends are. Does he remember about his friend who comes in the last page of his friends’ list? What’s the use of friendship when one can’t remember who his friends are? Online friendship is just for namesake. No real value. Some fan following and a hundred odd friends in the list. That’s it. You become the hot property.

I wondered where this Aamir came in between all of a sudden but I felt was a suitable statement.

Kiran : Arre yar.. Tu bhi toh karta hai na online chatting. Usse kuch use hai kya ? Desh pe kuch asar padh raha hai kya ? Baat karta hai saala.

Aravind : haan mai bhi karta hoon lekin mai kisiko request bhejna ya kisi dude ko dekh ke usi ki tarha banne ki koshish nahi karta.. aur mai apne saare Facebook friends ko jaanta hoon pehchaanta hoon. Samjha kya ?

Kiran : abe chal chup kar. Bada aaya philosophy lekar.

Finally, to cut this useless task cum conversation I had to remove the internet cable. Internet shut down. I felt that was the best solution.

After that, I was going through an article about the adverse effects of social networking on young children and teenagers. To my surprise, the article based on survey had concluded that, chatting and social networking was actually making the youth dumber. Teenagers in the age range of 13-17 were most prone to those adverse effects (mostly girls). The report says that those kids consider their ‘online’ friends seriously, sharing all the intimate details and engaging more in cybersex and other cyber crimes. New Delhi has registered most of such cases. Why is it always India in such things?

When you are provided with an opportunity to make use of something, like networking, it depends completely on you as to how you use the object. In several cases, people get tempted at the notion of having something to their own at full liberty and tend to misuse the opportunity that they are provided with. It is not very different in cases of the online chat rooms, as most of these chat rooms are misused to great extent, simply because some people cannot restrain themselves from being spoil sport. As far as the chat rooms are concerned, most of them offer free live chat these days, provoking these immature individuals to make the most out of these sessions.

It may be said that, most of these chat rooms are used as a medium for dating individuals and at times for some other purposes. However, the chat rooms do not abide you to go by your proper name at all times, and thus, several people over the chatrooms make use of fake names or pseudonyms, to hide their actual identity. It my so happen that after flirting with a girl for over several months, you tend to develop feelings for her, only to find out that it was a guy under a girls name fooling you all the time. This could be a real hard one for you, as it might have cost you longer stretches of chat sessions and eventually all that time and effort going down the drain

Individuals must be careful to see that, their children may not get hinged with any chat room activities that might not be suitable for him. As far as the chat rooms are concerned, they are very useful medium to keep in touch with others far away by the method of live chat. However, if used in the wrong sense, the exceptionally useful chat rooms may turn out to be quite a nightmare for individuals. There are being restrictions put up to curb the misuse of these online chat rooms, but due to the vastness of the members logging in, it is not always possible to keep track of matters.

So that is how my Sunday was. It was mixed with all sorts of crap and some sort of invaluable information about social networking awareness.

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