Let me confess that I am a 'Net Junkie'. This is a confession born out of hours spent in the virtual world, trawling the cyberspace. My idea of a birthday wish is an e-card or a SMS. More often than not its the same one I had sent last year. I have a couple of friends, living practically next door. The window through which I carry out a conversation with them is not made of glass and wood...but it was made by someone called Bill Gates. This habit carries on with my other friends too. My 'social interaction' is limited to the confines of my office. It mostly happens near the loo or the coffee machine and lasts exactly for one cup of coffee...then its back to the grind.
This story could be remindful in most of our lives. We spend most of our walking and waking hours consumed by the rat race, racing from one deadline to the other. The ones 'unlucky' to be married share a worse fate with the added responsibilities. It's the life of the fast and the furious. Their is hardly any time to pause and smell the roses.
Today, we build bridges...but the chasm between people has grown. TV and cable bring the world into our living rooms, but we don't know the first name of our next door neighbor. Social networking in the digital age is synonymic with Orkut. A feeling is an emoticon. Being in touch means SMS's and mail forwards. The advance of the net and telecommunications with cell phones, sms's, chats, emails, video chat should have given us more time for our leisure pursuits but it has become a fact that we are doing more and more in less and less.
Awareness dawned on me a few days back when I dug out an old scrapbook from my footlocker. Some of us might remember them as those decorated thin notebooks we used during our school leaving days to collect the 'What U Think of me' and 'What do U think about our friendship' scraps of thoughts from our friends. As I dusted it off, I wondered, how long it has been since I had caught up with my old friends. These were the very friends who had made my 'wonder years' possible. Some of them existed, yes, but more as IM nicknames rather than flesh and bones. Today I knew them more from their online avatars.
A resolution was thus born in me. I decided that I had spent a considerable part of my life forming deep friendships with most of them. It was an investment in time, love, memories and pocket money. I just couldn't let it flow under the bridge like that. I had some catching up to do.
And so it started...
I fixed a day on the weekends. Shut down my computer, closed my doors...dialed their numbers...and started talking. It caught on like fire and the links of friendships started joining once again. I can tell you that by the end of all our tête-à-têtes, I was a content man. We had caught up old times shared. Had a few laughs. Committed to meet up next weekend. Finally it felt like old times.
Oh, yes! I did return to my social networking site. But this time to make a friends circle with all my friends. Just to cut down on the distances. That is our permanent scrapbook.
An emoticon can never replace a smile. The sound of a heart laugh sounds so more enjoyable when you just have space separating you rather than a telephone line. We have 8760 hours in a year. Spending a few of them in the real world with friends is always time well spent.