These days, the ongoing craze among my friends is Facebook. Hardly one or two of my contemporaries do not have an account in Facebook, or ‘Fb’ as it is more popularly called over here. Those few who do not have accounts in Facebook are marked as ‘outdated’ and ‘uncool’. And if one is like me, who has an account but visits it once in four months, then one is termed ‘crazy’. Not that it bothers me much; I am called crazy for numerous other reasons anyway!
Whatever happens in school or in tuition classes, a post has to be made in Facebook. And in spite of an absence of word limit, only sms language should be used. “2day, we hd 2 free periodz in skul, yay!!!!!” is a very typical post. Other than that, whatever petty programs or fights take place, a Facebook post seems to be mandatory. Even the lack of activity, “Jaanish, aajke school e kichhu pora hoeni!!!” has to be posted. As for photos, the less said about it the better. My classmates seem to have this bizarre habit of taking the most awkward and senseless photos possible, and then uploading them on Facebook, only to be bombarded by a series of equally senseless and bizarre comments. Once when I had logged in after a goodly period of time, I had got a bit of a shock to find a group photo of a few of my friends from St. Xavier’s School for boys standing around holding up their pantaloons! That photo had fetched more than sixty comments!
All kinds of weird activities go on in Facebook. Most of my school friends seem to be ‘in a relationship’ with someone or the other in Xavier’s. However, when I ask them about their 'relationships' outside Facebook, they say that they are ‘single’! Both boys and girls together attend my father’s tuition. I have some friends there who are boys. They refuse to speak to me or even look at me when we meet each other, but the same boys send me messages saying “You seem to have forgotten me” on Facebook!
As for that strange business of ‘friend’ing someone, it goes right above my head. How can any Tom, Dick and Harry become your ‘friend’ just by sending a request on Facebook? But that is just what happens there. My classmates have hundreds of ‘friends’ on Facebook, fifty percent of whom they don’t know at all! There is an unwritten competition about who has the maximum number of friends, so most people will accept friend requests from just about everyone!
Facebook has become a worldwide sickness that affects not only teenagers with a lot of free time and nothing to do, but also people of their parents’ ages. Nowadays a number of advertisements feature parents communicating with their children through Facebook. One such advertisement shows a group of college goers who have just checked the latest update on Facebook where the mother of one of the boys has posted “Just made biriyani”! With this also comes the fact that the parents who say that reading books outside the prescribed syllabus is a waste of time do not seem to mind when their children spend hours doing absolutely nothing on sites such as this.
This being the situation everywhere, I am glad to say I have not been affected badly by this disease. As I said before, I have a Facebook account that I hardly ever visit. E-mails and notifications from Facebook are directed to the scrap box of my gmail i.d., and I get along very comfortably with this Facebook-free lifestyle. A few years back some classmates of mine had encouraged me to open a hoax account on Facebook because I was not thirteen yet at that time. The first month had seemed very exciting, but then my father had found out about the account and had forbidden me from using it. Then, sometime last year he told me I could open a Facebook account again if I wanted to. I opened my present one then, but the craze was already a thing of the past, and now it is all but unused.
I wish I could make at least one or two of my friends realize what a big waste of time Facebook is. There are so many other ways in which one could enjoy oneself. But they are determined not to listen, and since I realized that I was fighting a losing battle, I have stopped talking on this subject altogether.
On this subject, I would like my readers to take a look at this wonderful piece written by a newspaper writer called Chandril Bhattacharya. In fact, it was this piece of writing that induced me to write this post. Many thanks to Saikatda who sent this to baba. An advance apology to all my non-Bengali readers; I will not be able to translate this properly, so I am posting the original piece. Sorry!