Yea, I often ask this question to myself (not aloud) - when I open a social networking site (Orkut, Facebook, LinkedIn…).
The other day I happened to be checking Orkut after a while. And I felt like I was back in 2004 (the year I joined Orkut). There were close to 10 friend requests. Barring one (who happened to be an old friend from school) the others were all strangers. You might ask me - What’s the big deal? Click on ‘no’ and forget it. Yea, I have been doing that all this while. (It has been like a ritual for me ever since I joined Orkut, you know). But there are these things, which if it occurs often/constantly, begins to get on your nerves!
I cannot fathom how people go about this “friendship gathering”. I mean, how do they narrow down on their ‘targets’? How do they go about searching for one, in the first place? Do they stumble on them by accident or do they search for them by certain criteria (interests, location,…)? What makes them think that some form of compliment; or trying to sound desperate; or even resorting to obscenity will win them “friends”? Someone please tell me, I’m completely lost!! (And it would also be interesting to get views from the other side.) I wish I had saved some of the hilarious, corny, mushy, and plain idiotic messages I have had the (mis)fortune of seeing (along with the requests I got). Ah, if only I’d known that I would be blogging about it some day! :-P I’ve been complimented on my smile, my beauty (??), my snaps (two albums containing nature pics are public) and my (“interesting”) profile as such. Thank you very much, but all that ain’t gonna get you nowhere!! And what bugs me THE most is that one sentence that seems to be passed around like it’s gonna make all the difference – “I want friendship with you.”… Uggghhhhhh!!!!! There was probably a time when I would’ve talked to total strangers online, if I thought they might be interesting; maybe returned a scrap or two…but I am over it now. Doesn’t make sense, you know.
Coming to the next category of ‘Do I know you?’. These are people who you are slightly (or a little more) familiar with. Could be your batchmates (other classes or branches); juniors or seniors at school/college; friends of friends (of friends…); friends of your sibling(s); cousins or relatives (who you probably don’t come across often); neighbours (or ex-neighbours); children of your parents’ colleagues; tuition-mates; etc. etc. (This list is quite endless, isn’t it!). Now, this is the category I’m undecided about. When I get friend requests from this category, I wonder - to add or to not add… that is the confusion! It’s not like I’ve talked much to them when I had a chance to (works both ways, by the way). But they send you a request nevertheless. And some also remind you how you know them. Isn’t it rude to reject them? Or is it ok? S/he didn’t really make an effort to connect in any way when there were opportunities, so why now? Networking, some may say. But I’m a skeptic about these things. I find it a little odd, to be frank. But, having said that, I have connected well with a few people this way. So I guess it goes both ways. But you’ll find that a majority tend to be people who add you and then forget all about it. Sometimes it’s their updates that may remind you that they’re on your friends list! (And maybe even the excess of that, which may start bothering you).
The third kind of ‘Do I know you?’ are relatives. I know I did mention them above. But the thing is, you know them by a certain name, or rather pet name. You don’t know their official name. They send you a request and you wonder who it is. Recently I got such a request from my cousin. He is all of 13 years of age and (thankfully) had mentioned his pet name (the name we all know him at home by) in brackets. Otherwise… there was nothing in his profile that suggested that I know him! He had this ‘muscle man’ pic in his profile and all. I would’ve rejected that request with no second thought, deciding it was the usual bit of ‘wanting friendship’ requests (had it not been for that name in the bracket!). But yea, there is the ‘mutual friends’ you can check out in the profile too (but you’ll soon give all that up and just click yes/no right at your homepage. I mean, who has the time or inclination to check out every requestor’s profile??). And then that got me thinking on another tangent. It’s true that all this 'social networking euphoria' has worn away for me. I’m no longer excited by friend requests and scraps and all that. But still, each generation is slowly getting acquainted to this online media (at even younger ages!). Very impressionable minds those...things may go wrong (and they do). That’s why we still have accidents and deaths due to online alluring. Hmmmmmmm…
Anyway, now I have some 400+ odd friends on Orkut and some 290+ odd on Facebook. (Not bragging about numbers here. I KNOW there are people who’ve got way waay more!). And I think it’s time I ‘weeded’ them (or atleast set different levels of privacy). I plan to, when I get a net connection. No offense to anyone, but I really don’t see why they should be in my list. I know it’s a way of passing time, getting to know about all the ‘action’ in other people’s lives and all that. But one thing we must all realize is that we’re, in turn, unwittingly letting them in, into our lives as well (and maybe you’re not comfortable with it). You really don’t think twice before posting stuff on your profile (pictures, taglines/status messages, etc.), do you? Most people are harmless and probably won’t mess around with any information they happen to come across. But… can you be sure? From now on, I know that I will think twice (or more) before adding people. No point adding people for the heck of it, right?
How about you?