Socially Speaking

Nope, nothing. Tons of random thoughts. Let’s just get them all out, shall we?

Well, let me start with Facebook. I’ve got a bone to pick with it. It’s taken over a lot of communication. People don’t feel like they have to talk in person or on the phone anymore, because they’ve left a message on our “wall”. Many of us are guilty of it, even people to whom we’re close. Yes, we’re still socialising, but do all our interactions have to be so damn public? If anyone can see what we’re talking to each other about, there’s nothing personal, per se, anymore. If we’re informed of major events in a friend’s life via such a platform, then how does that person remain a close friend? I mean, the update could be visible to just about any of their 500-odd friends. (I am aware of the new somewhat controlling and somewhat out of control privacy settings on Facebook, thank you for asking.)

It’s helping the world become smaller, but we’re losing something valuable. Where’s that moment when we sit face-to-face or, at worst, actually hear the other person’s voice? How do we hear the cynical tone, the feverish excitement, the hearty laughter, the silly giggles? If we can see them but don’t, aren’t we missing the expressions silently asking for support, the little smile appearing despite their skeptic words, a wistful look, the sparkle in their eyes? Can we still successfully catch up, build a relationship or reinforce one? I think something will often be missing. It isn’t the same. Despite any arguments we may make, it just isn’t.

Friendships and relationships become diluted because we let these social networking websites take over. We let  them become a substitute for real communication, a real heart-to-heart. We assume we’re “in touch” because we let each other see our status updates or share songs we’re listening to or publicise our relationship statuses which are likely to become a breeding ground for drama. With the amount of information which is shared on sites such as this or Twitter, much of it could be shared inadvertently. (I can swear that I could follow the controversial life of a girl I barely know via her status and relationship updates over the period of about a year. I would give you details to support this, but I don’t think that would be appropriate.) With the amount of interest we have in other people’s lives, I also firmly believe that Facebook brings out the voyeurs in us. This isn’t helped by the fact that there is now a live news feed on the home page. Doesn’t this somehow let people know that we are active at this present moment on Facebook? Isn’t that sort of akin to appearing online even if we aren’t “Available to Chat”?

What did we do before these websites started playing such an important role in our lives? We didn’t try to summarise our thoughts into 140 characters and we didn’t need to let every random person befriending us virtually know that we’re in a complicated or an open relationship. If something bothered us, we sought out our friends and talked to them, instead of posting our latest mood swing for everyone to see. Where we’d have had a decent, sensible conversation which might actually help the situation, now we write, “I’m in a bad mood, y’all. Keep away.” And then we get a ton of “Awwww”s and when someone asks, “What’s wrong?” we say, “I kinda don’t want to talk about it.” It’s a little personal, right? Well, maybe we shouldn’t have shared it with every random person whose friend request we’ve accepted. But now Facebook lets you group your friends in any way you please: Close Friends, Family, Acquaintances and you can create your own groups too. So don’t ever call or even text your friends again, use Facebook to do that dirty work for you.

Now, speaking of people accepting friend requests from random strangers, why in the world are people so damn keen on making new friends through the internet? Maybe we should talk about that someday. On Facebook. Or we can just tweet it or something, right? It’s high time; I should really get on Twitter and learn #7habitsofhighlyeffectivetweeters or something to that effect. Then we’d really be talking.


Points to Ponder ~ Essence

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

– Maya Angelou

Maintain Safe Distance

I lost a friend once. I had asked her for advice related to a guy who was a little younger than me and wanted me to be his girlfriend. She told me to not go for it. The guy was very sweet and good to me–my reasons actually are immaterial to anyone else, or they should be–so I still did, and she stopped talking to me, saying, “If you didn’t want to take my advice, why did you ask me?!” Aren’t we free to make our decisions even if the entire world tells us to act otherwise? Are we obliged to do what someone else says we should just because we asked them what they think of it? What about the people who offer their opinions, unsolicited, and don’t stop voicing them? Or those who cannot stop talking about the cracks they see in your relationships? Their perspective on it is that of an outsider.

The truth is no one really knows a relationship besides the people inside it. Have you ever wondered why that couple that always seems to argue still stays together? Or why your favourite couple, the one you thought was so strong, is breaking up? You’ll never really know. And even if you know, maybe you won’t understand. Only the people forming the relationship will know the true reasons they don’t let go of each other or can’t stand each other anymore. Only they will be able to understand why they’re inseparable or why they’re separating. Maybe you will never understand the emotional chemistry between them, or the reasons they’re drawn to each other, or the lack thereof. There’s isn’t much sense in analysing relationships you aren’t a part of. It’s very likely that nothing will come of it. You won’t discover the truth behind it and all you will have is speculation.

Then again, why are you so interested in their life? And if you are curious enough about their reasons, talk to the involved people about it. Perhaps this is a family member you’re trying really hard to understand, to know what to think and what to make of their activities. If it’s bothering you and affecting your life, talk to them. Otherwise, leave it alone. You have to let them take care of their relationship their own way. There are feelings and pasts and histories and emotions which cannot be explained to you. There are fine, intricate details which you cannot see, and which maybe even they aren’t consciously aware of. Let go of their relationship. Don’t try to understand it. You aren’t a part of it, so you probably won’t. Remember, with respect to that relationship, you are an outsider.

But if it’s a friend, then at what point must you, as a friend, draw the line? At what point do you cross it? Is it when you keep telling them the person they’re in a relationship with isn’t worth it? Or is it when you have a million opinions on how your friend should spend time with the person? There’s no denying that sometimes that reality check is needed. Sometimes the people involved are in so deep that they cannot see their dysfunctional relationship for what it is. But sometimes, if you’re a true friend, you’ll see that they are happy with what they share. It’s so easy to judge them by what it looks like to you who’s on the sidelines. But you don’t know their story. A friend summarised it in six easy words last night: You won’t understand, you weren’t there.