I thought I was inured to the insidious lure of facebook. I thought I could hold off against burgeoning peer pressure. I thought I was the stuff restraint was made of [and titanium]. I thought a lot, basically.
But as with all things I’ve thought through to a pulp, to emerge on the righteous side of opinion with something solidly unshakeable akin to a titanium fortified belief system, mostly not flattering and always well published from giddy heights; things which have somehow subsequently unfailingly managed to arrange themselves in the Larger Scheme of Things such that I’ve been forced into hugely embarrassing, no, rephrase: prodigiously humiliating instances of volte-face-ing which is an aggressively [often maliciously] active verb in these parts, so that I’m left nekkid and cold and defenceless amid the finely crumbled debris of my belief-stroke-dignity-stroke-senseofself [which is too perverse to be even mildly sensual] kissing the arse of fate in a karmic turd-fest: facebook has proven yet again, how treacherous [and overrated] it is – this business of thinking. And opining. In these parts.
Do I learn?
No. But thanks for asking.
In my lifetime, which has notched up quite a few years comprising phases and counter phases, I’ve made many resolute statements. Publicly. Not least about how I’d rather die than EVER like boys. About how I’d rather die than be all girlie and wear lipstick and care about my figure. About how I’d rather die than go to an all-girls’ college. About how I’d rather die than work on a mainstream Bollywood film. About how I’d rather die than go out with a Punjabi boy [or three]. About how I’d rather die than have anything to do with advertising or people in advertising. About how I’d rather die than reconsider my absolute and utterly illogical disgust toward a certain RJ. About how I’d rather die than patronise Malls. About how I’d rather die than apply for a visa to America*. About how I’d rather die than be on facebook. Etc.
What must be said for my head [which I clearly share a strained relationship with, involving occasional third-person grammar] is that it truly did die a bit each time. I did.
But back to facebook.
I have been known to state my position on it. Severally:
I said: In response to a friend who sent me an invite…
“My sister told me yesterday that she's just signed up on facebook. Somehow the world seems to be conspiring to get me to sign up. Yet there's this very strong throbbing pulse in the anus of my moral steed that's telling me to resist. Why? I don't know. Don't blame me if I sound fishguts. There's this voice in my head – the same direct line from the high horse's arse. But, give me a good reason, and I might.”
[Evidently I was so smug (and deeply in sync with that throbbing pulse) that only an elaborately constructed logic driven canon of reason could’ve penetrated the fortress. Imagine having this misapprehension about your head over and over again. I should join Indian politics. They could use my head. Variously.]
I also said: In the course of an interview with a much admired writer, who asked…
IS: Are you on the facebook thing? A friend told me to start an account and now I am in touch with people from the distant past and have friends I've never heard of.
H: No. I've this strange sort of snobbery about being on facebook. But now that it's out [this is the first time I've admitted to it] I'm sure I'm going to end up on it. Someday.
IS: I would leave it except my two sons are there.
[Note how he acknowledged the undeniable advantage of her position. And note how she slipped in a clever disclaimer about an inevitable someday. Move over, Manmohan.]
I have also been known to forward this link, demanding the public and moral denouncement of facebook and its vile covert capitalist agenda, mass ether-mailed to countless friends and colleagues.
I have been known for a lot that should teach me by now to keep my gob under surveillance and my head in a dungeon before I step out.
So what changed then? What caused the universe to shift and the fortress to crumble? Hanh?
Something very basic.
Something that has shaken the very foundation of my existence in a Descartes-esque way.
Earlier, as you will no doubt appreciate, I barely made it past the “I think therefore I am” criterion: however confusing and unreliable, the proof was undeniable.
But now, not being facebook-able, ie traceable on facebook [as in google-able], it is slowly dawning on me that my existence has been challenged in ways that I am utterly unable to question or combat.
There is this whole other universe of interaction from which I am excluded – a gargantuan time-space vortex that is oblivious to my existence; a universe populated by friends and family who increasingly, even when they meet in the here and now, conduct their conversations in mysterious allusions to their facebook lives. “So ‘ryou going for the Teddy Boy Kill gig tonight?” Who? What? When? “Sorry! Forgot, you’re not on facebook, it’s on my events listing. Remind me to email you”.
Remind me to throw you a hieroglyphics-imprinted rock, freakshow from the nineties.
I used to be really proud of my memory: I’m the sort of calendar whore who has birthdays and anniversaries rolling involuntarily off the tips of her extremities. I used to be respected, envied even, for it. Once. But now, thanks to f***book, I’m like the lady-with-the-mile-long-moustache at the local mela – mildly amusing with an utterly redundant talent. Who needs a memory when f***book tinkles in your arse every time it’s a friend’s birthday?
I also truly believed that email and text had explored the final intrusion of virtual messaging in our daily lives, stretching the limit of impersonal interaction in the absence of voice and handwriting. I truly believed that social utility networks were glorified dating-sites infested with the sort of flotsam jetsam that scavenge along the periphery of normal social interaction, teeming with nefarious activity. Surely nobody respects them?
But I was wrong. There is facebook now. And it’s here to stay and threaten the fact of my existence.
As a copywriting friend recently wrote, in response to my facebook volte-face, as a befitting open-armed welcome of sorts:
“I will add that if you join Facebook, the sooner the better, you will know the tidbits that Ali and Sue are exchanging, how Sid doesn't fit into Chinese MRI machines, what I'm trying to cook and at least one event that Phish will be attending in the coming week. Also you'll see pictures of Mangu put up by various people, be alerted when someone changes their status from "in a relationship" to "it's complicated" and meet a bunch of people who you didn't know you gave a flying hoot about until you joined.”
I feel this great urge to announce it – this ceremonial deflowering of my social utility website virginity. [I'm lying, I have my profile up on another, no two other such site, but under the innocuous title of Etch, and I don't ever check these, because I am so ashamed of them. So then why did I register, you ask? Because there was a time in my life I was even more net un-savvy than I am now. There was a time I clicked on links sent by friends and discovered too late that I had found myself a spanking new spot under the virtual sun. There was a time I could legitimately blame it on ignorance.].
There I said it.
I’m signing up. Wittingly.
I’m selling my soul.
I’m getting me a life. An identity. An existence.
I’m on facebook. Officially.
Those of you who know me in the here and now, beyond the single letterness of my blog-existence, please, rush over and say hello. On facebook. Disregard snide comments, allusions to inverted snobbery, and any loose talk about abstinence… Please. Don’t ignore me. God knows that if I don’t have enough frendz on facebook, I’m going to be so devastated.
Something also tells me I might start saying ‘anyways’… soon.
*Ben was decent enough to email me about it. He was thoughtful enough not to flame me on comments, demanding an explanation for my distasteful display of such xenophobia. He just said, and most sweetly: "Not really offended, but why would you have rather died than apply for a visa to America?"
And so, because I love him so much, and because I had no business being such a judgmental arse without an explanation, here's my reason for saying this: I should've realised that it had offence potential... But with the kind of humiliating checking procedures that friends and acquaintances [particularly those who are Muslim and male] have been put through at airports etc., the kind of blind suspicion post 9/11, coupled with the senseless visa denials that some of my friends have faced, it just seems like there's no point in applying for permission to be allowed into a country that wants to tell you, repeatedly, how unwelcome you are.