It has been 11 months now since my brother-in-law and his wife moved to Sheffield and they most like to communicate with us on facebook. By ‘us’ I mean with my husband, because I am not on facebook. Recently, when I wrote the two of them a long email, on the happy occasion of their completing two years as a married couple, my brother-in-law wrote back saying they missed talking to me because I was the only family member not on fb, as he called it. He even sent me an invitation to open my very own fb account. That invitation is still sitting in my inbox untouched.
The thing is I am not too fond of facebook. I still prefer the “old fashioned” email to get in touch with friends and family. My husband told me, the other day, that I belonged to an endangered species on the verge of extinction. He is now reliving school friendships and meeting people (online) he had left behind at least 15 years ago. “Isn’t it exciting to meet people you never thought you would even see again?” he asked. Didn’t I want to track my old friends? I did of course want to meet my old friends, but I’d be happier with a chance meeting at a railway station or on a bus. I don’t want to find them on facebook.
My husband’s addiction to and obsession with facebook was worrying me when a dear friend told me to throw my fears out the window because there were cases far worse than my husband’s. There was this kid she knew of, for whom facebook was the oxygen to live on. The kid was practically logged in for 8 or 9 hours a day! And what did she do all that time on facebook? For whoever cared to read, she wrote minute by minute updates of what she was doing on her “wall”. “Having supper”, “Sulking right now”, “Going to the neighbourhood store”, “Back from the neighbourhood store”. And what is more, my friend told me, there were people “liking” and “disliking” the “scraps on her wall”! Perhaps if she were a celebrity I might have had some interest in following her day-to-day activities, but why on earth are there people interested in knowing whether she is sulking right now or not?
Everybody and everything seems to be on facebook these days. Advertisements for any new product, programme, event, or movie that is being launched come with this line at the bottom, “We are on facebook” with a link to their facebook pages. Did you know that even schools were on facebook? (All of you probably do, of course). Another friend told me, she first found out about her son’s school from the school’s facebook page! That page so impressed her that she immediately enrolled her son in that school. Her logic – surely if the school has a facebook page, it must be using all the modern, up-to-date, effective teaching methods. Well, I wouldn’t be surprised tomorrow if my kirana store owner tells me, “Madam, ab hum bhi facebook pe hain. Hamare wall par aap list likh lo, mein home delivery kar deta hoon.”