So honored to have a blog published on the awesome site Lassi With Lavina. LAVINA MELWANI is a New York based writer who has lived in India, Africa and Hong Kong. She has written for an eclectic bunch of publications including India Today, Worth, Newsday, Asia Inc., Hong Kong Standard, The Hindustan Times, Bride’s, Art and Antiques, The Week, Beliefnet, Winds – the Japan Airlines in-flight magazine, Gafencu, the Shanghai-based lifestyle magazine, AM New York, Hinduism Today, Tehelka and The Indian Express to name a few. The article was initially published on May 9th, 2011 on Lassi with Lavina website: http://www.lassiwithlavina.com
Thank you so much Lavina for the wonderful opportunity! Truly truly appreciate it!
*Please note that the post is written in pure fun! Would love to hear your thoughts/comments!
Are Facebook ‘Friends’ Really Friends?
By Ruchi Garg Kalra • May 9th, 2011 • Category: 24/7 Talk is Cheap – The Blog
Guest Blog: Ruchi Garg Kalra
Friends – Till Facebook Do Us Part…
As I sat down this morning with my cup of chai, ignoring the several friend requests on Facebook, I wondered what the word ‘ friend’ means now. All these social networking sites have revolutionized the word ‘friend’. So what defined a friend in the good old days or let’s say, even three years ago?
There are as many definitions of friends as there are clouds in the sky. But for now let’s go to the Internet – our only trusted source of information today. According to the free web dictionary, a simple definition of friend is someone you know well, like and trust. Know well: that would mean I have met this person at least more than once, spent at least more than 20 minutes talking to them. ‘Like’ would mean I know how they react in certain social situations, behave, and maybe have common interests. Trust would mean that they have my best interest at heart and vice-versa.
Now let’s define a friend in today’s world of social networking sites like Facebook. Take a typical scenario on a Friday night – you are invited to a party by a coworker, Sheena. You’re not sure if you should go or not as you don’t know any of her friends. You decide to make excuses of a dog wash night and then soon realize that she probably remembers last week’s lunch conversation on how you are allergic to pets. So, you decide to wash your hair instead and head out the door with a bottle of wine in hand.
As you stand at the door about to ring the door bell, you have thoughts of turning around and walking away. But somehow your index finger reaches out and presses the doorbell faster than your feet can turn around. As you walk in the door, you’re introduced to multitudes of people. From the many short conversations of the night (longest lasting 3.5 minutes) people were like “Oh yeah, I have seen your posts on Sheena’s wall”, You have an amazing sense of humor” and “Oh, I loved the purple top you wore last week to your work party”, “You look so much like your mom”, and “How was your trip to Hawaii last month – loved your pink bikini- btw did you buy it here in LA?”, “Was that your boyfriend with you in Hawaii- he’s so hot and cute!”
You, Me and Facebook…
Wow, is this for real, it seems like all these people already knew you- your clothes, your vacations, and your love interests – maybe they even know what you had for breakfast, if you tweet!
Yikes! And you thought you were new to the world of FB. You had just recently started to figure your way around the profiles, the status updates and most of all the privacy settings, and how to write on other people’s walls – instead of replying back on your own wall! You didn’t realize how much personal info you had displayed on FB that your friends’ friends seemed to know everything about you.
You’re flabbergasted, there’s a flash and you realize you have been pulled into yet another group photo shot. During the shot one person is screaming ‘Don’t you dare put this on FB!’, while the photographer is screaming “Facebook!” instead of ‘Cheese!’ There were more pictures taken of you tonight surrounded by ‘friends’ – than the day you graduated from college!
Dazed and confused, you try and remember all the names of people in your head on the drive back home. As you plop on the couch at the end of a long evening, you decide to log into FB and see for yourself what all is up for public display in the world of FB. As you log in, you see 20 friend requests from the people you met at the party tonight.
One of them even has a message inviting you to their 30th b’day party the next night! Isn’t this a big event, don’t they just want their close friends there? Well, who cares what they want….What do you want? Do you add them or not? Are they really your friends now? Do you really want them commenting on your every picture, do you want them to hit the ‘Like’ button every time you post a status update, or comment on how anorexic you look when they barely know you? But without much thought you decide to add them, as it would reflect badly on Sheena if you ignored them or gave them only partial access to things.
Hence, starts the era of a new ‘friendship’….and you start rummaging thru your mind as to what you will wear to your ‘friend’s’ birthday party the next night…wait whose party was it again? Oh well, who cares? You’ll know more when you get there, but for now you can write on Sheena’s wall and see if you can go together to the party….
The word ‘friend’ has become such a loose term now that we have forgotten the true meaning of friendships. Sometimes we end up caring more about what the virtual friends think and see of us. Twitter at least does not lead you into believing that your friends are following you, or you are following a friend. You are just a follower but you have access to everything from what they ate to what they are wearing to if today is the day they cut their toe nails. Do we really as a society care to know all these things about people? When you look at the number of people that join these sites daily – the answer is a resounding Yes!
Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Friendster – The Friend Finders…
Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Friendster have definitely made the world a smaller place but they’ve also made it more open for everyone to peek into our lives. Our parents always warned us of the social effects of telling people too much of what’s going on in our lives. Before, people would gossip to find out more information about other people, but they don’t have to do that anymore. We actually invite them into our lives with a click of a button and give them an open access to our lives, whether it be people that we met thirty years ago (wait, that would make me 7 back then…hmm), people that we met once, our chiropractor, yoga instructor, doctor, maybe even our bus driver. Where does this end?
I don’t think this social phenomenon will end anytime soon. We as a society always choose to go to the dark side of everything before we start retracing our steps and getting back to the world of normalcy.
Today we are defined by the number of friends we have on FB, by how many people follow us on Twitter, and how many people subscribe to our blog, rather than by the number of true friends that we can sit with and have a cup of chai. If only we could sit and sip chai with our true friends, maybe the meaning of friendship will shine thru the tea leaves…
Have a great day, my friend!
Ruchi Garg Kalra launched jewelry studio RGK D’Zines to share her passion for culturally inspired Jewels. She started her blog RGKzines.wordpress.com to write about jewelry but she soon realized she wants to write about so much more.
What do you all think? Are FB friends real friends or phantom friends?
Do these friendships sometimes evolve into the real thing? Do share your anecdotes!