Formerly 'Rambling with a cantankerous old mule"
Yesterday I wrote a post, almost entirely in passive voice, about a Facebook character called Rabin Ravi Raj Rabin. The account was ridiculous but true … Here is the original post upon which it was based (mostly in the active voice, and so much easier to read.) I include this because some of my readers have asked for it …
One mellow evening I was lounging with friends after a slap-up meal, still sipping on some smooth red wine when we got to talking about Facebook, and how easy it was to create new accounts. The details elude me but by the end of the evening I had created the persona “Rabin Ravi Raj Rabin”, born in Delhi (India, not New York) and then living in Fort Worth, Texas. I think I picked Texas because I was watching the series Friday Night Lights at the time, and figured that it would be the most unlikely place for this Indian character to live. I could just imagine his accent standing out against the strong Texan drawl as he shouted for the Dallas Cowboys …
Anyway, to cut a long story short, it soon turned into an amazing social experiment. I started by inviting random people in Texas to be my friends first, which quickly snowballed. In no time I had over 400 friends from around the world, and pretty much anyone I asked to be my friend said yes. Of those 400, I think I actually knew only 20 or so.
My first profile pic was of a fat little boy, which then became a young girl-child in traditional Indian garb, and eventually I had a pic of a good-looking Bollywood star on my homepage. All were clearly from the Internet – even pixelated. But people still wrote commenting on how handsome I had become considering how overweight I was as a child, they sent me birthday wishes, asked about my traditions, when I had moved to the States and what it was like living there compared to India. Someone even tagged me in a photo of when we were in a school soccer team together!
I’m a horrible liar, so it wasn’t actually easy to keep Rabin going as a personality. I played online games with my pseudo friends, and people shared so much about themselves (without realising it) with this arbitrary Indian boy that it actually scared me! Many of them seemed interesting and attractive and intelligent, which also made me wonder why they wanted to be friends with “me”. I eventually cancelled my account when I hit about 1000 friends – my curiosity about people’s gullibility and inability to say no to friend requests satisfied.
But the other thing that really bugs me about Facebook is the fact that it is so shallow. Sure, it’s great seeing friends’ photos, and saying a quick “hi” but I’m not really interested in the inane status updates like, “Water aerobics rocks and the grannies are super friendly ” or that “those who do not study are cattle dressed up in human clothing,” or even that you’re “saying Hellooo to gym & bye-bye to Dr Pepper”. I don’t want to know when your sister is getting engaged, whether you’ve had a death in the family, if you’re overcome by depression or feeling blessed. These are all confidences of such depth that they are better shared face-to-face with real friends.
But the thing that really gets my goat about this confounded social networking thing is when someone says something like, “Congratulations to so-and-so and what’s-her-face.” You respond with, “Wow! Why are congratulations in order?” And the original writer replies, “I don’t think I should say. It’s personal.” Hello?!?
I stepped back into my Facebook-world this holiday again – to get a few email addresses and try to break the cabin-fever boredom. But, I’m more convinced than ever that it’ll be goodbye again. For a long long time this time!