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Rqstng Yr Frndshp Pls

Rqstng Yr Frndshp Pls

August 08, 2011

Endless emails, wall posts, mentions and comments - all from young gentlemen seeking the same thing.

We've all come across them. They lie in wait on social networks and make hopeful forays into comment threads. They are concerned with quantity, not with quality, like pick-up artists hoping that one of their lines gets somebody interested. They are not, however, particular about sex: sometimes they're out looking to engage only with ladies but just as often, they bombard male internet users with demands and requests. Curiously, they are often Indian.

I'm talking about the mystery men who hit you with greetings such as the following:

“hai frnd how r u… i am joshua frm chennai … luk forward 2 ur frndshp... pls reply me... bye”

As much as I'd like to believe that these inarticulate are an online minority, their numbers seem to be many orders of magnitude greater than the folks who allow room for a more organic connection over the net. They pop up everywhere, from Facebook to Twitter feeds, from blog comments to regular old email, and they don't stop. Ever. They are extremely adept at missing the point of blog topics and even better at disregarding the personality of their target. They are many, and we are few.

In my limited experience, though, most of these folk have surprised me with an endearing earnestness. Many have deigned to at least address me with a 'hello' (or at least the ubiquitous 'hai') and a 'goodbye', and some have even wished me a pleasant day. As in the example above, they almost always ask how I am. I'm perfectly aware that these words give no indication of whether the person on the other side of the computer screen is offering genuine sentiments, but I like to believe that they say these things because they have some idea of how to meet people. This doesn't mean that I accept their request to Facebook, or email, or give long and detailed advice on how to get a visa to 'go to foreign', but I appreciate that little bit of extra effort.

The tone isn't always friendly, though, despite the intent. Some can be very demanding. For example:

“hai i am very happy to make frndshp with u add me pls also gv ur mobile number ok”

I generally ignore such affronts, or occasionally respond with a straightforward explanation of how I use social networks and why I am refusing their request, but I've known others to get a little more creative. One friend, who accepts email through her well-visited blog, often receives long-winded and occasionally bizarre requests for help and information. Other times, they're only after one thing:

“i want to makd free sex with housewife and collega girl”

This was one entire email, with the unambiguous subject line of 'free sex'. (I know I said earlier that most seem unconcerned whether the target is male or female... but there are plenty of exceptions to the rule.) She sometimes plays along, feigning interest and asking them for photos, but they rarely reply, which to me implies that these debased self-introductions can be little more than time-pass for some. Another friend*, a Twitter acquaintance, confronted with yet another online Romeo, responded with this memorable comeback: “No, I don't need your 'frndshp'. My life needs vowels in it.”

You might have noticed that my two examples here were of women receiving requests from (presumably) men. I've never received a solicitation for 'free sex' or even 'frndshp' from a woman online – even street-walkers are more subtle than that! – and I'm confident that I never will. The game of online requests is played almost entirely by men. I see here a link to society's different expectations of men and women, and what behaviours are acceptable for each sex; it's also, I believe, related to the peer group encouragement men get when passing comments on women in the street.

I try to ensure that the 'frndshps' I have or don't have online have no impact on my other friends. Still, the circles of my social networks are getting wide enough that they are beginning to overlap. Much to my horror, an Indian friend of mine, who I became friends with in real life long before he added me on Facebook, has started sending 'hai dear frnd' messages to one of my other friends on Facebook – someone he's never met. He must have scoured my wall, or perhaps my entire friends list, for potential 'frnds'. Thankfully he is using polite language and refraining from bombarding her with messages every other day, but I dread the day when I am the mutual friend who brings together a regular social networker with a strange and weird stalker.

That's one of the reasons why, apart from in exceptional circumstances, I don't accept friend requests from people I haven't met in person. Some people like to synchronise their social networks as much as possible by adding Twitter followers, and now Google+ contacts, to their Facebook friends – and vice versa. Personally, I prefer to keep Facebook for people I know in real life, largely because I use it to keep up with the lives of my friends and family around the world. For this other group, the 'frndshp' group, everything is numbers – as many followers, friends and circle inclusions as possible, to ensure the maximum possible number of potential 'frnds' and, hopefully, interactions.

Why are so many of these guys Indian? Well, I suspect that's just a numbers thing as well, like so many other things about the country. There are over a billion Indians, more than half of them men, and those who have regular internet access and knowledge of social networks almost always know enough English to string at least a sentence or two together. Add to that my theory regarding the innate competitiveness of Indians and you have a recipe for unlimited emails, wall posts, mentions and comments. It's just a shame that the sentence they choose usually reads “hai frnd shall v do frndshp” or some variant.

It will be interesting to see whether the 'frndshp' process evolves over the coming years
. Internet access is still a relatively new global tool, and look at how much our use of it has developed in just a couple of decades. In India, that development is less advanced as the Internet has only been available to the masses for the last few years; perhaps these 'frndshp-mongers' just need a little time to understand things better. Imagine a million well-spoken, polite, intelligent 'friendship-seeking' men (yes, with vowels now), scouring the depths of the Internet for agreeable connections. Good thing or bad thing? Ladies, I'll leave that judgment up to you.

*I say 'friend' here, but that person may disagree. Perhaps I'm just as bad as anyone else – or perhaps the social lines, just like in real life, are blurry and subjective rather than clear-cut.

Photo credit: Michael Brashier


  • Aladdin
    09.10.12 01:40 AM
    SO HERE's A LITTLE SIMPLE FACT OF LIFE BURNBY.... Notice I didn't do the Caps for screaming just to notice that's all. Now here are the Real Facts!

    Zionist NSA Lowlife Scums proliferate the Internet with their SPAMS. They are in Blogs like Topix, Craigslist, Facebook All over the web.

    They use Automated scripts or Bots to spread these spams, propagandas and POVs about a certain ethnic groups who they want to show in a certain light. Don't believe me... just go to Topix african American website and read all the comments there.

    They are bunch of Miscreants, lowest Vermin Hellbound Scums in this planet who think by spamming their way they would be able dominate what goes in Real Life and Real interaction between ppl. Lol... it's their so called 360" domination.

    So they are up for promoting negativity against Asian and Indian men in general since they excel at career life. But have other stereotypes for Blacks and Latinos where the dominate at being "hung" not as much in having a good career.

    Blacks and Latinos have their "negative connotations" already but they need to create some bad image about good Indian men... Hence the reason for requesting "ur frndshp" especially if she is a white girl (like they get sponsored at so many Bollywood dance songs by corporate hidden hands) since they have no problem selling off their women to other races of men.

    So this is what's really going on. Now I welcome any comments or reply.
  • Andrea
    10.11.11 05:26 PM
    haha! Excellent Barnaby, back when I actually had an orkut account, a few friends and I used to hold a yearly competition of who had received the funniest 'fraandship request'. I still remember one a friend received from a guy who was supposedly a pilot that wanted to highlight the fact they were very clean, loved wearing their jeans and since their last girlfriend left them they 'cry cry cry'.

    I got so sick of random friend requests on facebook (including one from a weirdo Italian who seemed to spend half his time in India) that I changed my settings so that people can only find me in the search or add me if we have a friend in common.

    Of course this makes it difficult when I actually make a new friend that I don't have anyone in common with.
  • vimal
    10.11.11 04:24 PM
    Hai Friends ,

    I'm Vimal From Tamilnadu . I Like Friendship . So I gave Importtant to My Friends Anytime , Anywhere . I Love My All Friends . If you have Interest to Join as My Friend then you can Directly Contact to my Mobile no or to Mail also .

    contact no : +918122109896

    mail id :

    You Mostly Don't Contact to mail You can Directly Contact to my mobile .

    If you've not interest then Don't Contact Pls . I've interest in Friendship Only

    Thank you So much Friends
  • Sujeet B.
    Sujeet B.
    02.09.11 12:17 AM
    I completely agree with some of the views that other commentators have expressed. The Indian society condemns healthy interaction between men and women and go to extents where in places like Mumbai, Shiv Sena takes pride in beating up college kids who indulge in Valentine's Day etc. The average Indian kid has found that the Internet is an excellent way to vent their frustrations without having to face to taboo of "dating" someone and please their "conservative" societal views much the same. I have heard things have changed quite a bit in India now and the government has moved to legalize gay/lesbian as well as common wealth (live-in) relationships. Though I doubt this change is beyond the metro and tier 1 cities. I think its about time we gave the Indian populous some credit and stopped looking at every Indian as if they need a coupon to go to "foreign". They are extremely hard working and talented and deserve as much a taste of the world as an European or any other race.
    14.08.11 11:06 AM
    am looking for a fine India lady to marry
  • Sunil Deepak
    Sunil Deepak
    11.08.11 10:42 AM
    There are occasional messages from girls as well - at least they have a female names and images in their facebook profiles :)
  • Dr Vikram
    Dr Vikram
    11.08.11 10:21 AM
    Interesting, but thats the sad state of affairs, to add to the list of the folks doing this, these are generally from smaller towns who dont have enough social platforms.
  • Anne John
    Anne John
    10.08.11 08:02 PM
    Haha! I think almost every woman gets a load of this nonsense! Been happening for a long time.
    And I've tried exactly the opposite of what Santosh has said. When I logged into a chat room as a female, numerous windows kept popping up all a/s/l.I got so bugged that I re-logged in again, this time as a guy. No one bothered to ping me. Poor guys, you do get ignored a lot ;-)
  • sharell
    10.08.11 10:59 AM
    Another one fresh in my inbox this morning:

    "I am frm Kerala. Cn i get girl's mobile number?"
  • Santosh L
    Santosh L
    09.08.11 11:45 PM
    lol I didn't expect a blog post about this but I'm not surprised.

    You give this vocal minority too much credit. They are probably school/college kids working overtime.

    A few years ago, I had installed yahoo messenger for the first time on my computer and entered a mumbai public chat room. I pinged random strangers with "a/s/l" messages and all I got in return was "sorry, male here" replies. Just for fun, I logged out, created a female nickname and entered the chat room. What happened next was the funniest experiences I had on the internet ever. Within 15 seconds, my desktop was flooded with dozens of pop ups by random males asking me for my "a/s/l".

    I assume these same people have now migrated to social networking sites. Some of them are there to increase there friends count. Some are there to drool over women.
  • Sadhvika
    09.08.11 07:48 PM
    One of my "Frnds" wanted me to read this after I posted on my wall (the otherwise private wall, with just this sole public post) about not accepting "franship" requests.

    Nice piece.. its not just foreigners.. Indian women face a lot of this too.. and Like you said, these are non descript Indian men.. and now I've blocked my friends list from view. So these guys or any of my real "frnds" for that matter cannot access my friends list and write to other women.
  • Barnaby Haszard Morris
    Barnaby Haszard Morris
    09.08.11 02:41 PM
    Tys, you've written plenty of wonderful words on this site but I think you've outdone yourself here. I will be memorising that Malayalam phrase and employing it at the earliest.
  • tys
    09.08.11 10:05 AM
    after deleting and reinstating the facebook account several times, i have activated the account again. Yep, iam that proverbial coconut on the wall kind of mallu.But this time I have only connected with people i know personally or thru their works have become a person i wud like to one day meet...

    thankfully iam yet to receive a free sex must be the profile picture..

    but iam curious, is it just an indian phenomenon (no pun intended)...perhaps our restrictions in a healthy interaction between genders in a social surrounding, results in these requests...we have a saying in malayalam : poyal ouru vakku, kittiyal oru anna ...roughly translated means , if it doesnt click its just a loss of words, but if it does then the reward is an elephant...

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