Remember the times when the call back home, to family in India, used to be a weekly affair? And then too you had to choose which member of the family had to be called? Was it time to call the grandparents? But what about the siblings who lived in another city? Don’t forget that the Aunts kept telling Mummy that we never call! And so on and so forth went the drama over the weekly phone call to bridge the immense distances that lay between us and the family who had stayed back in India.
Then there were the airmail envelopes that arrived laden with news that had become old news, as the mail slowly made its way across the seas to its recipients. Pictures of the latest nieces and nephews, the new sister-in-law and a housewarming became treasured pieces of home, to be kept in huge bound albums and brought out whenever the pangs of homesickness struck.
Not anymore though. These days if you feel homesick, you head to your computer and log on to the social network of your choice and more often than not it’s Facebook.
In 2007, when I migrated to Facebook from Orkut, it was all about the odd bunch of friends who found Superpoke and the Vampires and Werewolves interesting. For me and my then long distance boyfriend it was the perfect place to leave each other lovey-dovey messages and indulge in some romantic PDA without being scrutinized by our family. Little did we realize that our private little social networking space was about to explode before our very eyes!
Come 2009 we got married and I moved to the Philippines, tired of the insane ISD bills we were racking up and obviously because we wanted to be together. And not necessarily in that order, of course! Anyway, I ended up back on Facebook, for in the space of two years my friends list had blossomed well into the high three digits. And not only that, I also realized that my friends list was starting to resemble my family tree!
My mother was in there farming away merrily with my mother-in-law. My second cousin was sending me requests to join her Mafia clan. My Aunt wanted me to feed her fishes. And then there were the wall postings, made by those who clearly forgot that it was a public space, which shared one’s innermost thoughts for the rest of my Facebook world to view!
To illustrate what I’m talking about, here is something I recently read on a friend’s wall-
“Hi! I want you to know that uncle is undergoing piles surgery and that I will be logged out till Monday! Have fun, love Aunty”
After that, I’m sure my friend wished a very strong curse on the one who invented social networks.
Yet, with all it’s faults, I see myself sticking with Facebook. Yes, there is information overload and sometimes you wish that your parents and in-laws had never discovered it. But then again, in a world where you are too busy to even talk to your family when you are at home, it’s nice to know that there is a space where you can bond any time you choose. And for those who have family back in India, it’s hard to find a cheaper option to stay in touch with your near and dear ones. And that too in real time.
But all the annoyances aside, I guess when you get to see a new-born niece’s picture uploaded from your brother’s phone seconds after she is born, I suppose it's hard to find fault with Facebook anymore.