Can’t let FB replace real contact: Am resolving to call and meet the people that matter to me this festive season- Oct 19, 2012
Posted by ramblinginthecity
I love social networking, but I realized how much it had changed my life when I caught up with a dear friend recently. She is not active on Facebook. In fact, she is only comfortable with visits and phone calls. Even sms and email is a no-no. In a way, she is how we are were before the communication madness hit the world.
This friend and I go back a long way to a time when we were snivelling, crazy children in primary school. We were a riot. Parents would be looking high and low for us while we played ghar-ghar under some row of bushes somewhere, or up in one corner of the terrace! We fought, we yelled, we played and we were mostly inseparable for some four years of our lives way back in Parel, Mumbai.
Yes, that was a different place, a different time. A world gone by. A world in which a landline phone was a luxury. And letters and occasional phone calls were how people communicated. Friends met up, like face-to-face met up, all the time. Despite lives being equally busy, I remember my parents took out a lot of time for meeting family and friends for outings, dinners, walks, or even just a cup of tea in each other’s homes.
So this friend and I live in the same city, sort of. She lives in Delhi, I love in Gurgaon. We speak on an average once a month, usually when one of her children is ill and she is stressed out. When you know someone else for most of your life, just speaking with them is comforting. So yes, we use each other as support, to boost our morale when we are down or simply to let off steam when we are mad.
We meet a couple of times a year. And we have no contact in any other way. No FB, no sms, no BBM, nothing. That seems strange at times. So many people who are merely acquaintances are reading my status updates and blog entries, looking at pictures of my children. They know about what’s happening in my life. I meet them and they comment on some pic they liked or someplace we had been to. And this best friend from my childhood is oblivious to the details of my life.
When we meet, the catching up is very very real, intense and pleasurable. We actually have to fill in for things that have happened over months. We have to share our ups and downs, our state of mind. We have to indulge in nostalgia, laugh about old incidents, discuss the health of our parents and children, remember my father’s fun loving ways (he was a big factor in both our lives).
But it’s not only the exchange of information that enriches the meeting. It’s the joy we feel at seeing each other…I love the familiarity of her voice, the expressions that flit across her face, the idiosyncrasies that are so endearing, the comfort that she knows me so well that I can say anything I feel and get away with it….it’s a different sort of joy from seeing a friend’s picture on Facebook or exchanging an email. Nothing substitutes for real contact, no matter how much pleasure we get from virtual interactions.
Of course, I am glad social networks exist we can connect to many more people. But because we have an easy way out, we don’t make the effort any more. A few other friends, who also still believe in the traditional modes of contact, continue to call and speak to me a few times a year. And I love those conversations. But I find I hardly ever make a random call to a friend nowadays. That act has been replaced with writing on someone’s wall. And at times, when I am down and out and just want to reach out, I find I am inhibited and don’t make that call I badly need to cheer me up. I end up thinking I have very few close friends and wallow in self pity for some time. But the truth is that I am ashamed to call a friend to whine when I haven’t called her in ages to just catch up! And it simply won’t do to whine on FB, would it?
Social networking has, in a sense, replaced quality with quantity. And sometimes that’s not such a good thing. So here’s to making a renewed effort to call and meet the people I think matter in my life! And what better time of the year to start than in the festive season…