Me, My Wife and Facebook !

Since the beginning of time man has sought new ways of communicating with each other -- ranging from simple signs to drawings to sophisticated social networking websites.

Among all such websites that people socialize, Facebook has the edge. There's no need to say more to know what we are talking about. Since its inception in 2004, Facebook has gone so far on its journey of revolution that in today’s virtual life it would be rare to find anyone who has not succumbed to its temptation.

Facebook has a variety of user-friendly applications. This new craze has become an addiction in the contemporary age, finding its way into the lives of old and young alike and making them obsessed with it.

What about you?

Read a tongue and cheek story inspired by an in-depth analysis and available facts about the present day disease.

"God has given you one face, and you make yourself another.” -Shakespeare in Hamlet. Act III. Sc. I
Kuwait - 26/10/2011
Sonia Sirsat accepted your friend request, you have 23 friends in common,” Esparansa, my wife, read aloud a new text message on my cell phone.

“That’s my friend no. 1001,” I proclaimed proudly.

“Do you know her well to add to your friends list?”

“Who doesn’t know her, she's such a popular Goan star. Great Fado singer, dunno what it means though!..I am a 'big' fan of hers..”

“Does she know you?” Esparansa popped up her eyes.

“Well, I met her backstage after her performance in Kuwait last month. Am sure she will remember me from my Facebook profile photo. Cool..! I can find out all about her now, perhaps friend some of her friends, and her friends’ friends..”

My mother overheard the conversation. She came out of the kitchen to poke her nose. She hated Facebook and the internet itself, like the hot weather. “Who’s Sonia he’s talking about,” she inquired with Esparansa.

The better half did not need another invitation to haul over the coals. “Ma, he is so much obsessed with Facebook, it makes him even forget he has an actual life to live.”

“Almost everyone these days, dear,” my mother sympathized, “Last weekend, all throughout the party, I saw little Alisha monitoring her cell-phone like a trader at stock-markets. When I asked what she was up to, her mom just said ‘Facebook’.”

“I see total negligence in his daily obligations, household chores and even in his work at office,” Esparansa went on, “Ever since he got that wireless connection he is forever online. He forgets he has showered or not till I remind him... And last few months he has begun to treat me like a stranger. It is so disgusting..”

“He should change his middle name to Facebook!” My mother snapped.

Esparansa looked at the older woman with comfort to push her agenda further.

“Facebook has done great harm to today’s youth,” my ultra-conservative mother showed her modern-day knowledge, “...distracting them from social, moral, academic, and professional responsibilities. Other day, Gavin’s mom showed concern over her son’s ‘Facebook research’ which has virtually habituated him into sleeping past midnight, everyday..., that too knowing he has to get up for classes next morning... Now that’s about the tattoo generation!.. What about you.. .. ...”

“What’s so awful ma? Am not gambling on Facebook..” I defended.

“Look here,” it was her customary lecture, “Facebook friendship cannot substitute for the warmth and pleasure one feels in one-to-one meeting with friends and families. Being glued to computers, it can turn you into a 'internet addict' which is not the social norm of a mainstream society...”

I listened to the kitchen-sink ‘narayanas’, not knowing whether to wind a watch or bark at the moon.

In fact, Esparansa looked down on me as if I was drug-addict. No wonder she did not believe in Facebook’s credibility nor its conventionality.

“Some immature idiots even opt to post photographs and videos that are against human values,” Esparansa poked in, “which are bound to leave detrimental effects on the minds of many, especially the kids...”

“Am a kid..?” I smiled.

“Another worst activity is gaming -- a prominent feature of its popularity for pass time,” she trumpeted.

“But then, Facebook offers great many benefits,” I justified, “catching up with old, lost friends who are resurrected through facebook, sharing personal profiles, promoting work and business, planning events, etc, etc,,,,”

“I agree. But there has to be a limit,” Esparansa sprang up from the sofa like a coiled spring let loose, “Ma, he has started communicating with me through Facebook, which is outrageous. I promptly deleted him from my friends list. And deactivated my account too.”

“Am sure Facebook is just an empty-headed euphoria, inviting one to be silly, crazy and self-absorbed,” my mother gave her final judgement.

“Which world are you guys living in?” I was getting agitated, “I guess still in the Portuguese era..Nowadays, events are organized and scheduled through Facebook, schools and colleges do their projects through it. If you are not a user, you are left out. As a matter of fact, e.v.e.r.y.thing is done through the net now..”


“Yes, am sure even the government will soon start notifications, billings, etc, all through the net.”

“You mean electricity and water bills? In Goa?..” my mother was curious.

“Why not? That could all come through the internet..some day!” I was almost fuming.

“You must be ‘Joaking’ like Churchill Alemao! They should first think of a proper water supply..”

“Fruits and vegetables and even fish can be ordered online now.. and cashew feni will follow soon....”

“I tell you, Facebook is not a way of life. That’s it.” Esparansa thundered. “I don’t mind you checking emails or surfing the net. Just quit Facebook!”

Somehow I knew she detested me being friends with so many people, especially females. Though she was much liberal, she kept a regular tab on my wall, before she deactivated her account. Honestly speaking, I never thought she would ask me to quit as well.

“You don’t mean it, do you?” I raised my eyebrows.

“Ofcourse, I mean it! You better stop before I dump your gadgets in the garbage including your laptop! And don’t even dream I will allow you to buy the ‘iPad’ as a wedding anniversary gift..”

“Hey, that’s rude!!! Even Mark will be shocked if I leave Facebook!”

“Mark who?” my mother wanted to know.

“Mark Zuckerberg!!! He is my friend too, Ma. He admires me so much, because I am promoting Facebook and keeping friends away from twitter and google plus - Facebook’s biggest rivals.”

“Hope you are aware how much this 'joker-bug' earns!” Esparansa remarked.

“Oh, that doesn’t matter. Everyone knows me as Facebook’s biggest advertiser, at least in mouth-to-mouth terms. Being a member of famous groups such as Goans on Facebook, Goan Shutterbugs, Navelim - Goa & Abroad, Curtorim Village, Bahrain Goans, Ami Niz Goenkar, Musicians Goa, etc, has doubled my...”

:::All stories are a work of fiction. No offense intended to anyone:::

“Oh, come-on, these groups. Can’t you see? They use the ‘free’ informational advantage to serve no one but launch their own satellites which am sure will not even create a ripple in the well! Just wait and watch, you’ll see groups mushrooming all over, from North Goa to South -- more than the bus-stops on National Highway 17. Every association, every club and college will have their own group. Then you sit here and light candles to each group!” Esparansa said, dismayed.

“Everyone envies me, except you.. I got almost everyone in the office to join Facebook....Even people who never tried or considered social networking. Within months, everyone was settled in everyone’s friend lists. Now I myself have friends in Culcutta, Delhi, Kerala, Philippines, Egypt, Australia, US, Canada, UK, Caymans and even Pakistan.”

“Pakistan!!? Of all admired places on earth..” my mother giggled showing her disbelief.

I couldn’t resist boasting, “Only one colleague refused to join, out of the forty-odd others.”

“How come you quit Facebook, dear?” my mother turned to Esparansa.

“She quit because she’s not good at keeping in touch with people..ha ha..” I laughed.

“Yeah, Ma heard it right,” Esparansa cut me short, “Matter of fact,. am not completely crazy in the head. It’s a complete waste of time. Can’t digest the stupidity how people can keep a thousand friends whom they have never even met once..”

“Yaar.. how do I explain..”

“Ma.. you got to give this chap some ironing! Now!!!!" Esparansa was furious, "I want him off Facebook a.s.a.p, it is destroying my peace! I have to virtually drag him even for the rosary recitation..”

“Man, I want you to keep your nose clean and stop living in a fool’s paradise... Tell me one thing, what’s so charming that you are hooked up?” Mother asked.

“Well, honestly..,” I tried to dodge the bullet. “I want to feel popular and well-liked. Want to stay in the loop, to feel included. And. What should I say, how would people know I am still alive?”

“Are you living for your friends or family?” Esparansa demanded to know.

“I like the face-to-face friendship. It is most rewarding.” My mother sermoned, “You better stop now being a fox in a henhouse.”

“Hmm.. a fox in what?”

“What’s the fun in going through the junk that is circulated.” Esparansa took her case higher, “You can very well browse whatever you want to find on the net. Why depend on friends and warrant unnecessary comments and counter-comments and be the centre of embarrassment in the dirty linen washed around.”

“My..., it’s all about keeping in touch...” I objected. “This is the easiest way to keep in touch. Click of a mouse, you could find out what even your most obscure friends are up to, and gain some knowledge about their lives, and make them feel you are still as intimately connected as you were in hey days.”

“But I just wonder why people don’t get weary of it all...” Esparansa addressed her disappointment.

“Well, people are, what should I say, not as ‘lackluster’ as you are. You never bother to write a sentence on people’s wall, and although you keep tabs on everyone’s birthdays and anniversaries including mine and Aishwarya Rai’s, you never wish people. How would you expect others to be nice?”

“Well, keeping in touch is much harder, and requires lot of hard work, something which I’ve never put in. As a result, I have removed the illusion of appearing to keep in touch with 400-odd people. I keep in touch with those that matter most. I send emails, and make phone calls, and meet people to know what’s happening in their lives, instead of just reading a one-line status message and thinking I know everything there is to know about them.”

“That’s what women do otherwise also! Gossip! Ha ha !” I chuckled. The ladies did not find it amusing at all.

“Well, I'll admit being curious of where a few of my friends have ended up in life,” Esparansa explained, “but I wouldn't even mind reconnecting with one or two persons from the past. All in all it's not enough for me to open up a whole can of worms for it...there's just too much past and too much life to be in the thick of it again.”

“What about birthdays and anniversary pics of your friends and families that you secretly see...” I wanted to ask.

“I do miss Facebook sometimes,” Esparansa looked out the window, pondering, “because I have no end of talented photographers on my list. I could see some amazing pictures on an almost daily basis. Plus, I also have some of the funniest people on the list, so I had no shortage of good humor available either...”

“I could make you laugh your socks out with some of the rarest jokes that I get ...!” I said.

“..It’s much better being a friend, instead of just being another profile in someone’s list. I add friends to my heart when I feel what they mean to me in life.. ”

“Hmm.. you hardly accumulated a dozen friends.. Look at my list.. ” I said, proud as ever.

“Well, none of those ‘fake’ friends ever commented or atleast had a second to click the ‘like’ button on any my photos. They forever brag about how their lives are perfect but never have time to compliment on one of my decent snaps.”

“Anyway, it’s your call... You may move heaven and earth, I won’t part with Facebook!” I concluded.

“Forget it, Ma, we are beating a dead horse..” Esparansa threw up her arms and made a dash to the kitchen. It looked like she had given up on the topic.

But no. There were debates all day, so much so that our arguments almost came to a 'megaphone diplomacy'. Eventually, the scales fell off my eyes. We came to the conclusion that the negatives of Facebook far outweighed the positives!

I decided to move the goalposts and see which way the cat jumped for a while rather than create a storm in a tea-cup every other day.

Esparansa constrained me to filter all notifications on the cell-phone and minimize my time on the net while at home, especially on holidays. To add insult to injury, our office IT blocked Facebook and other networking sites during working hours.

A couple of days passed. Esparansa kept her eyes peeled on me.

I moved around, played, ate and slept in time. I even prayed regularly. It was amazing to note a fresh joy surrounding my life and the richness of relationship around. I found myself talking nineteen to the dozen which proved far healthier than my Facebook activities that normally left me mute and comatose most part of the day.

A week later, one fine early morning, it was a holiday.

Why did I have this strange need to log on to the net as soon as my eyes opened up?

It was a nightmare I couldn't escape from. Something had made me feel worthless and depressed. Something. My life was so much better before I had Facebook. Perhaps the site had ruined my life and I regretted the day I opened an account on Facebook! I was just anxious of what I had missed all the past days.

I didn't even make it to the bathroom before I found myself connected.

I typed my username, filled out the password, and voila! I was part of the Facebook population.”

“Hee, hee..while I was away and sleeping, the universe had been busy! Hello, World! I am back!” I hissed.

About half a dozen people had posted on my 'wall'. Another couple of dozen had ‘poked’ me and I had 8 petitions waiting to be signed. An animated goat to be milked, and Join Salgaocar Sc Fan Club! A close friend and 3 others were celebrating their birthday which I was aware thanks to my Facebook. Somebody with cancer needed me to join a group and support their cause! A teenage friend half my age had answered a question about me 30 minutes ago. And 43 people were waiting to be 'friended'.

“Why is the ex-Dempo star, who never even talked to me during our inter-village matches, suddenly gung-ho to be my friend now?” I wondered.

Indian icon Remo Fernandes had posted a one liner on Goan politics which attracted 225 comments in less than 2 hours. I wanted to add mine and jump the bandwagon. "If a Padmashree like Remo remarks back, I would be an instant celebrity," I contemplated with excitement.

"What to comment? It should be something tasty to catch everyone's attention.." I thought and thought and thought.

Wait! There were people listed ‘whom I might know’ and 17 others who went to the same school as me! Okay, sure, I remember them. I'll 'friend' them, too. Hold on! My niece Cyndi in Bahrain had 3 photo albums! Ashton Bakar, the nephew in Goa had another 2. Okay, I should probably take a look at his new Asta i20 car.

“So many Notifications, Events and Invites.”

Wow. I never felt so loved, so needed, so appreciated, so popular! Everyone loves me! Everyone wants to be my friend! Fantastic! Accept friend request... sign a petition...Wish friends on their birthdays... Comment this post, check the next...Comment... Like... next!!!

But if I make one comment on one photo, on anyone’s status or a wall post, I realized I would subsequently receive 104 notifications telling me that other people have also commented.

“Oh my, all I wanted to say was that the photo looked nice.”

Faster and faster the requests came. I began to falter. I'd take one quiz, and 3 more would pop up. I'd sign a petition, and 2 more were waiting. No matter how hard I worked, it was never enough! One friend request turned into 5, then 23, and then 49.

It was too much and pretty hard to keep pace. My brain fizzled out. I sat there, listless – not having the energy to even push the TV remote button. I barely remembered who I was.

"Who am I?"

I used to have a real life. I used to have real interests, real hobbies, real friends... Used to...

I used to have a life... before Facebook.

It was time I was ‘myself’ again. Like a child. Bubbling. Happy. Carefree. Alive.

My hands were shaking at the weird thought. With great difficulty, I ignored the Requests, Notifications, Messages that glowed on my screen and clicked on the profile page.

There I was. The essence of me on Facebook: name, address, birthday. It was so validating, so empowering, so... time-consuming, so unnecessary, so completely and totally exhausting.

No more. It had to stop. This wasn't who I was. I was more than a brightly colored image on a web page.

For well over 5 minutes I hunted and punted how to delete the Account permanently. For those of you who haven’t been to this dark side of Facebook, please note: Trying to 'permanently' delete a facebook account is akin to solving the Rubik's cube, or a mystery puzzle that leads you nowhere.

Annoyed to the max, I clicked on the Help Centre.

How do I permanently delete my account? With a deep breath, I moved the mouse and the cursor over submit your request here.

But you know you can't delete the wretched thing because you would subsequently leave over a hundred friends wondering why you had decided to cut them out of their lives, so abruptly.

“Maybe I should reconsider. If I don't say ‘hi’ to atleast a few people, it would just be rude.”

But I thought against it.


Delete my Account?

There was a message: If you do not think you will use Facebook again and would like your account deleted, we can take care of this for you. Keep in mind that you will not be able to reactivate your account or retrieve any of the content or information you have added. If you would like your account deleted, then click 'Submit'.

I clicked.

It took me to a pop-up page that asked me, in big, bold red letter words as if I was committing a grave crime on humanity: "You are about to permanently delete your account. Are you sure?"




At last!!! I was myself again. I sighed a deep breath of relief.

“Are you on the internet,” a familiar voice from the bedroom.

As Esparansa made her way into the hall, I looked at her -- like a hostage just released -- free, alive and vibrant to all my senses.

“Yes, am on the net!” I gazed into her eyes. There was no guilt in me whatsoever. The heart was light and completely at ease. Seemed like a season of flowers had come...

...Moving a strand of hair over her head she said, “Please accept my ‘friend’ request, I added you up on Facebook last evening!”

Another story Click: Breaking News: An amazing achievement!
:::My dearest esparansa:::

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