Like it or hate it, social media has come to be a huge component of all social interaction today. It is also likely to stay that way in foreseeable future, regardless of the fortunes of individual social media giants like facebook or twitter. Facebook, the only social media network that I am active on, is already over the hill, I am told, while newer kids on the block (Pinterest, most notably) are apparently going from strength to strength. I’ll confine myself to facebook here though, because it’s the only social medium I am really familiar with.
In a set up where friend lists tend to run into hundreds if not thousands, it is inevitable that the term friend gets used in a very loose sense. In the very beginning, I was particular about only adding friends who actually were , or at least had been at one point of time, friends with me. It dawned on me quickly enough that this was neither possible (for example, how can you not accept the friend request of the mother of your child’s friend whom you have met and chatted with on a couple of occasions?) nor even desirable.
The whole point of the existence of social media is that you get to be in touch with people with whom you wouldn’t really be in touch with otherwise. It is the presence of your real friends there that is incidental–because you would be in touch with them anyway, wouldn’t you? For better or worse, anyone who was ever a classmate, a teacher, a neighbour, a colleague , a distant relative or even a passing acquaintance qualifies as a friend on facebook.
The idea of maintaining such facile contacts isn’t without its advantages–maybe they post witty updates, or awesome photos, or interesting links, or all of them –and then who knows who might turn out to be of help some day!
But then there is another side to this coin. Some of them can drive you right up the wall with their downright silly, irritating, mindless updates. Pet peeves are
i) share if you agree, share if you care, share if you have a heart, share if you love your mom/ dad/ sis/ bro/ neighbour’s wife’s third cousin updates
ii) obviously fake pics that suit certain agendas, again exhorting viewers to share them. I once got into a war of words with a school-friend– which got a little acrimonious– over a similar update.
iii) updates from those overly religious types which go on and on about God’s kindness and how whatever happens, happens for the good.
iv) updates from people who consider themselves to be unofficial spokespersons of certain political parties.
On another note, it is interesting how people show aspects of their personality on facebook that you never knew about. A friend from college, who is a doctor and a bit of a high-flier, turned out to have a talent for sher-o-shayari. Well, any day her poetry than inane share-posts! Another rather serious acquaintance recently posted pics where he was obviously having a lot of fun with his pals–made me blink and look twice!
Presently, the best part of facebook for me is being part of a couple of wonderful groups. Also, being back in touch with very old friends who I had thought were lost forever. Of course it is never quite possible to actually rekindle long-ago-friendships and be on the same page again, but it is good to know where they are and what they are up to.