Sunday, May 8, 2011

Love in the Facebookian Era

A popular SMS joke doing the rounds these days says that during a wedding, the bridegroom stops the ceremonies at the very climax of his wedding in order to update his relationship status to “married” on Facebook. What more, he asks his bride, standing beside him right in the middle of the altar, to accept his request to be listed as his “wife”. Very well put, I must say, keeping in mind today’s trend, where a kid’s Facebook statuses tell his family about his whereabouts and moods, and the number of people in one’s friend list and the number of messages in the inbox define one’s popularity. Brace up, people, for the Facebookian era is here.

But hey, what’s with this “love” twist?
Well, here’s how my thinking goes – just like Facebook, love is the other newest trend on the block. Not to mention that it has been so for as long as I can remember. And with the recent passing of the Annual Festival of Love (for the uninitiated, I am talking about the Valentine’s week in February), I have developed a loathing for all kinds of superficiality related to the sacred word “love”. So, I surmised, what better than the loveliest of all feelings, love, to be analyzed from the Facebook perspective?

Till some time ago it was commonly believed that it takes just a single look, a meeting, a few talks or long walks to make you fall in love with a person. And the love that blossoms is eternal. A glow on the face, a perpetual smile, shy glances across the room and hand-in-hand walks along beautiful and less crowded places – these used to be the usual tell-tale signs of someone in love. But not any longer! Know why? Elementary, my dear Watsons! It’s the FACEBOOKIAN era, remember? Now it’s all about Facebook statuses, wall posts, pokes on each other’s walls, results of love-calculator-kind-of applications and hanging out at the malls. The main focus being, flaunt what you have, for as long as you have. Followed by, why, the three R’s of course - Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle! Hey, wait, did you really think these were formulated to help save the environment? Oh my poor little ignorant souls, time to wake up and smell the coffee!

Let us take a typical example. A boy adds a girl on Facebook, say on the basis of some prior acquaintance (Facebook’s new privacy issues - he can’t add her otherwise). She accepts, they begin talking off and on. The girl’s exams get over and she has nothing to do all day but sit online. As a result, they start talking often. More and more often. Day chat, night chat. Voice chat, video chat. The guy soon sends her a digitally created, animated proposal, “offering” her to be his official girlfriend. She gets uber excited, gushes about it to all her girl friends, and after some amount of haggling, accepts. This formative period of a relationship but has its own rules – no updating relationship statuses to “committed” and saving each other’s numbers under fake names. There might be others too, which thankfully enough, I don’t know of. Anyway, this goes on for some time, until finally everyone in their social network somehow manages to ascertain that this particular pair of opposite-sex people is “dating”. This paves way for the next phase of the relationship – the Social Phase. This phase, as the name suggests, is characterized by an ever increasing number of wall posts and pokes on each other’s deewaars(walls), a change in the relationship statuses on two profiles on Facebook, two pairs of thumbs perpetually texting away, and the whole online community being subjected to some gross online PDA.
Well, so long as it lasts. But unfortunately, it usually doesn’t. And when it finally is quits, the same old conspicuous phenomena ensues – change of relationship statuses, deletion from each other’s lists, and sometimes even blocking of each other on all messengers and social networks. Short and sweet, that’s the story of love in the time of Facebook. And as far as the three R’s are concerned, I leave it to the readers’ imagination to figure out in what way the three of them are carried out!

The thing that irks me most is the fact that people claim to have fallen in love with someone “just by looking at their display picture”. Now come on, seriously, do you even know for sure that the person you are talking to and the one you see, are the same person? There, you got me. To narrow down to the more specific domain, take my own example. I receive about a hundred Facebook messages and add requests a month, most of them asking me to add them because they find me pretty or beautiful or “smart”, as one or two put it. Some of them have even gone to the extent of “expressing their great love for me” through such media as poetry or hellishly-back-broken English. And on what basis, I ask? (No, I don’t literally ask them, I just ignore) and the answer is – the display picture! I wish they’d realize that the person they deem beautiful, going by the picture, might not be the same in real. They might be the most hideous creatures on the earth, crooked or saw-toothed with obese bodies, falling hair and crow’s feet. (I can vouch for myself though – I, for one, am the same person as seen in MY pictures; they are neither doctored nor nursed) I do admit, some of them might indeed be true to the picture. But what about the person’s inner self? It is true that a picture is worth a thousand words. But it can’t bare the soul. And then, after three months into a relationship, people complain that their beaus are not the same person they once fell in love with. Seriously, did you even check to confirm if you really knew who you believe you are in love with? Its time for a reality check.

Relationships are the latest fad, and in the true sense of the word. Whether it’s nineteen-year-olds like me or tiny fifteen-year-olds or the “world-wise” twenty-fivers, it just isn’t taboo anymore to have relationships at a tender age. It’s in. Love is in the air. And it always is. And with social networking on an unprecedented uphill climb, it is all the more convenient to communicate with people in your life, yet maintain (an optional) sense of privacy and choice – of who to talk to, when and by what means. And not the least of the impacts is the changing definition of love and relationships. Love – the word has lost its very meaning in this convenient world of technology.

Disclaimer - I do not write this post to bombard or criticize all the committed people in the world, including my friends and readers. All I want is to express my personal opinions on this game called “relationship-relationship” that almost everyone is playing these days. And obviously the role of social networking sites like Facebook in making things very simplified, yet more complicated than is usually comprehended. Some things might be fun to toy with, but the various strings they come attached with, beware.

Photos courtesy - Google images

P.S. I'd like to share a post by my friend Sourav here, which he wrote after attaining inspiration from this post of mine. How sweet of you sourav! :)
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