Virtual World…Virtual Relationships

It was sometime around July or August last year a cute little girl gave  me a message in Orkut followed  by a chat request in Gmail and the chat message read…. “Hi!  Finally caught you”. Needless to say that Facebook was what followed next. And now over the last one year this relationship has blossomed into a sweet and beautiful relation and one of the most important ones in my life…. I am indeed thankful to Orkut and Facebook for blessing me with a cute little sister.

Yes! This is just a small experience of my life. I am sure most of you might have many similar experiences. In this fast paced world when the entire world has become a global village, these social networking sites have been real blessings. I do agree these virtual communications can never make up for the real good times we had with our friends and dear ones but as the saying goes “Something is always better than nothing”, so at least we have the satisfaction and pleasure of keeping in touch with our friends and dear ones who are away in different places due to one reason or the other.

Two years back when I was trying hard to find a place to put up during my internship in Pune, my Orkut friend Nandini was a real help. Although we have never met each other till date we keep in touch over Orkut and Facebook. It’s been a year now that we have completed our Masters and moved away from the University. But the status updates, photographs and chats in these networking sites is what keeps us updated about each other and provides us a virtual platform to relive our old sweet memories .The other day when  my friend Rajashree uploaded  a few photos of us in Facebook , our friend Mitali who now stays in Delhi immediately commented “ Upi toi bahut xokot hoiso” (Upi, you have put on a lot of weight) and next day when we caught up online  she was there giving me all sorts of tips, on what to eat and what not to… when to eat etc etc.( given the fact that I am a very very lazy person, I never followed her tips is a different matter). I was actually taken by surprise the other day when one of my super junior called me from behind in the bus. We have never met each other before but since we have been in touch with each other over Facebook, we could recognize each other immediately As it seems and as I have heard, Fried Eye itself is also the outcome of online communications and most of the team members are yet to meet each other in real.

As the internet became a mainstay in today’s world, communication has changed. People tossed out conventional methods of communicating and started e-mailing, participating in chat rooms and message boards, and, eventually, joining mega social-networking sites like Facebook, Orkut and Twitter. In step with internet’s popularity, cell phones also reached many hands and then, fingers. People started texting instead of dialing, and downloading enough applications to control their entire social world from the palm of their hand. Hence the accessibility dilemma — the direct link to people who normally would have floated in and out of your life. Some of these people may be past love interests, some old friends, or some may just be interesting, period. In the past, to stay in contact would take more time — scheduling phone calls or personal visits — now, we can pick up our phone or computer and instantly connect or reconnect. Using Facebook, we have the ability to send personal messages, e-mails, texts, and chat. Then there is always text messaging — probably the most private way to communicate on a whim.  So far so good. But is this all what social networking sites have to offer?  There are, indeed, some not so good aspects about these social networking sites.

Innocent social exchanges appear to be increasingly turning into something not-so-innocent. Many people in relationships use social networking sites and texting to have circumspect communication with people they either don’t want their significant other to know about or don’t want their significant other to know that much about. Think how easy it is — we create an account that our partner can’t access, you ‘friend’ an old acquaintance, you start exchanging ‘inbox’ messages to catch up with each other, then you exchange phone numbers and begin texting and your technologically-enhanced communication may even lead to the real thing — a full-blown affair. And while many people probably aren’t intentionally exploring options outside of their relationship by joining Facebook or Orkut or Twitter or exchanging text messages, it can easily end up that way. After all, their initial communication is innocent… right?  Obviously people are undeniably responsible for their actions, but doesn’t the social networking and text frenzy make it a little more difficult to say ‘no’? I mean, it’s like sticking an ice cream cone in someone’s hand and telling them not to eat it. They shouldn’t, they know they shouldn’t, but the majority of people will at least try it — after all, you stuck temptation in the palm of their hand. And so, here we are. A gateway to discreet curiosity in one hand, and a commitment in the other. People shouldn’t be banned from communicating with people outside of their relationship, but who decides the extent of that communication? Who decides what constitutes one too many texts or exchanges? I suppose it will always come down to character — what you will or will not do when an opportunity presents itself.

But all said and done….. Networking sites like any other thing has both the positive and negative aspects attached to it and it all depends upon the individual how he or she makes use of it. It can make relationships as well as break them.

 

 

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