I’d seen it in sci-fi films, read about it in books: the perfect world. Everybody looked perfect, behaved perfectly, relationships were smooth, and one had few problems in life. Everything was tailor-made for a perfect life. I’d read and watched with a sigh, even as I dealt with everyday battles, little irritants enough to throw life ever so slightly out of gear—of course, the perfect life was only in books and films.
Never had I imagined that in this life-time I’d be able to experience that perfect life for myself. I’d, of course, heard of this utopian land but never imagined that one day I’d be lucky enough to be its resident.
Then my son introduced me to this new country. Frankly, it was bewildering in the beginning I’ll admit, but gradually I found my way around and learned to conduct myself as its citizen. Unlike other xenophobic countries where foreigners, I’ve heard, are left alone if not actually shunned, I found to my pleasant surprise that I was being welcomed warmly by the friendly residents of this country.
This place has actively helped me make new friends, dig out my old friends, too—it even got other residents to suggest friends for me. It made me a member of various societies; societies that actively shared my interests. I get to take part in relevant debates and find that people actually listen to me. There’s always enough here to keep me happily occupied for hours on end.
Recently, I acquired an undulating farm, which till then I hadn’t dared to even dream about! The farm stretches as far as eyes can see—there are luxurious crop and productive cattle and absolutely no hassles one usually relates with farms. The problems, if and when they come, are dealt swiftly and effectively with no monetary loss. And you won’t believe the person who got me this farm is my best childhood friend, whom I’d never thought I’d meet again.
This place has no space for ugliness or bitter disputes—here everybody always “looks great” at worst, and “awesum” at best; everybody has “fantabulous” family or group vacations/holidays/festivals; somebody is always there for you; somebody “likes” every word you say; everybody talks wittily with gentle humor; the food is always “lovely”; people seldom crib, and when they do, they get instant sympathizers and no-strings-attached advisers!
Apparently this the most populated country in the world after China and India, and it is virtually a dream-come-true country, better even than fairyland as there are no ogres here, or if there are, somebody deals with them before they threaten us.
Welcome to the country of Facebook!
Is it any wonder that people between the ages of 4-50 are increasingly opting for this country? Why wouldn’t they?—they are meeting like-minded new friends and rediscovering long-lost friends they’d long given up hope of ever meeting again. Had it not been for Facebook, the biggest social-networking site, would all this be possible? The new ice-breaker isn’t, ‘So, where do you live?’ any longer; it is, ‘So, are you on Facebook?’
Why are people of all shapes, sizes, and ages flocking to the site? I’ve been wondering, how does this work so well for all? Which are the key ingredients that make the Facebook world tick?
I’m far from the answer but I rather think it is because it’s such wonderful escape hatch from all that is less-than-perfect in real life. I can already hear dissenting voices, “Hey, it is real life, lady!” which is about the one thing that scares me about this perfect life. Having already lured us enough into its “web” of a second life, what if someday soon it becomes our only life? A life where we are content just connecting virtually? A life where we choose to upload only the best and be in denial about the rest?
Maybe Mr. Zuckerberg, the man who gave so many the taste of the perfect life, should think of putting a warning, a sort of reality check: “Not to be taken as an alternative to life—imperfections, disappointments, ugliness, and all” … ?
They are, after all, what make life, Life.
Madhumita Gupta, from Alwar, India, is a teacher by default and a writer by choice. A reluctant Facebook inhabitant, she spends her time teaching and dreaming up the next Great Indian Novel, which will be more humor, less grime.