Last night while I was viewing posts of some friends in FB, my chat window popped open and an Indian female friend invited me for a chat. So to her hi, I replied with a hi. She said she had noted the swiftness of my response, she being the same woman who had to wait twenty minutes some days ago to get me to join her in a chat. I replied as I was free and not in the middle of any of my writing, I saw no reason to make her wait even for a minute. After exchange of a few pleasantries and courtesies, she came to the point. She first asked me some questions. Her questions ran like this,”How many friends have you here in FB ?”
I replied,”More than 2400.”
She asked,”How many have you met personally?”
I replied,”None.”
“How do you manage so many friends?” She asked.
“Actually I do the least managing. They behave themselves almost always.” I replied.
Then she came straight to the point. She put forth her problem that was weighing on her mind. She said,”I don’t have even one sixth of the number of your friends. Out of that number I have met quite a few of them. So far everything went well. Of late, a male friend has started writing in a negative, highly critical and derogatory language about me, on the dresses I wear, the photos that I upload etc. Seeing him writing like this a few others also have started echoing him. I am in deep mental anguish. I am a decent, sensitive person. I can’t take so much of criticism. All this makes me very sad. What should I do ?”
I replied,” Block or defriend the one that started this trend first. None has the right to be malicious to you on your page.”
She asked,”He used to be a very good friend and write very good things about me earlier. Can you explain why people behave in this unexpected manner?”
I replied,”To quote Byron Katie, that is “his business” to understand why he is behaving the way he has been. After all, by defriending you are not passing the death sentence on him. Let him think and ponder. My principle is that whoever turns malicious, must have to go out of my friend list. I cannot afford to have a malicious software in my programmings. Sexual, sexy or double entendre comments are o.k for me; maliciousness is a big no no.”
“yes, you are a bit sexy sometimes but you never meant any harm to any one. Have you ever defriended anyone ?” She asked.
I replied, “yes, only once, that too an American woman. Imagine me defriending a western woman, the pool from which I got almost all my best friends, about whom I never stop praising, never cease expressing my gratitude and indebtedness. But I had to defriend someone among them. To this day I have never regretted my decision for a second. Only regret is that why didn’t I defriend her much earlier. Whatever I wrote, her stock comment was,” You need to be out more. Oh my, so many boring people on this page.” When I asked her to clarify what she had meant, she simply typed the first sentence again. As if that was enough of an explanation which only a moron like me couldn’t understand! When I checked a bit into her info page I found she had proudly stated that she was a drug addict and conducted many parties of smoking joints,canabis and hashish. She claimed she could outdo anyone in hurling abusive swear words of all the languages of the world. Now she belonged to her parties on the opposite side of the street and I am happy with my friends on this side of the street. May she find peace among those stimulating and intoxicating people!”
“In FB such road crossings are fortunately rare and few. And unlike in real life situation where you have to tolerate someone like this living in the same apartment or in the same immediate neighborhood as you lived, here you can get rid of him/her by just defriending.”
She thanked me for my firm and candid opinion, she said she felt much relieved and we said good night to each other.
After the chat I thought I would share some of my experiences here about this business of friending and defriending in FB. Let me first deal with the friending part because unless you befriend someone how can you defriend ?
Out of my 2400 and above friends, may be barring for 400 friends, I have invited all the rest. On two bases only. Some I have invited on the basis or strength of some comments they made on some posts that I liked. Their comments showed me their depth of knowledge or feelings. To me, by writing from the heart they have revealed themselves much more clearly and truly to me than they could have even by being physically present before me. To me this body of mine, is a barrier, an obfuscator, a deceiver, a hindrance to real communication than a helper or facilitator. People say language deceives and the devil can quote scriptures. But so is also the body. The record of the body as a true communicating vehicle is also equally dubious. Many have been undone by both. But of the two I chose words inspite of their limitations. Body has many needs and subject to many temptations and weaknesses. It also ages and rapidly loses energy and needs constant replenishments. It is matter in its drosser and grosser form, so ultimately infirm, unreliable and highly perishable. Words are much more aligned to the spirit. Once having been written, disembodied from the writer so to speak, they assume a life of their own independent of their authors. If they speak truly of something, then whether their author is a man or woman, black or white, king or common, criminal or saint, even dead or alive, all these become extraneous to it, its intrinsic value makes it long lasting or even immortal.
So while choosing friends I kept in view the words they chose to describe themselves or the reality as they saw it, again another way of describing themselves only. Because there is nothing else to experience or describe. There is nothing objective ‘out there,’ everything is ‘in here’. One may comment on any thing ‘out there’ but ultimately it will only describe the describer. Finally the describer is the described. So by selecting friends on the basis of their comments only I was so right that during this long period of almost two years I have had occasion to regret for only once in spite of having such a long list of friends. But she may have also belonged to that group of 400 friends who sought my friendship. I don’t remember. I have refused none that has sought my friendship. In fact, I don’t take more than a few seconds to admit someone into my friend circle. I know I am incorruptible. Anyone with any unfriendly intention, if admitted into my friend list, will very soon discover that enticements such as these
1) See how busty the girl is
2) See how you will look when you are eighty
3) Click on the video to see how Osama was actually killed
4) Click on the dislike button FB has recently launched
5)Hey Paresh I am pretty happy, FedEx just delievered me an ipad2 for no cost! Cant believe it actually worked haha, I received it from this promo site!
6)Hey Paresh, what are you doing in this video ? Are you dancing or….LOL
7) See what have they done to this school girl !

etc. cut no ice with me or don’t let them win any brownie points. They only leave me cold. The bustier the girl the more suspicious she is. They have to imagine something else for me. I give them a clue. The Atlantic or Pacific is a far more sexier thing to me. I refer them to my essay “The Beloved” to get some more clues. But I know they don’t read, they would be more at home in a joint smoking party going on at the other side of the street. Lol !
I have not told you so far about the other basis of my selecting friends. That is, FB suggests me friends daily. “Paresh, you have 120 common friends with such and such; and 425 common friends with such and such. Invite them to be your friends”. So a large part of my friends come from this category, not without some comic results too. FB sort of instructs me to invite many on the basis of so many common friends but also sometimes gives me stern warnings even to the extent of deactivate my account for having invited someone who didn’t want to be invited, even though we had a lot of mutual friends. Lol ! Of late I have discontinued this practice of inviting friends on the basis of so many common friends. But the practice of inviting friends on the strength of their comments continues and will continue.
Sometimes interesting things also happen even with persons whom I have invited for friendship on the strength of some of their comments. I shall here share one or two. It was an invitation to Carmen Vera, who subsequently became one of my most favorite friends. On receiving my invitation, she asked,”Do I know you?”
I replied,”Of course, not”.
“Then, tell me why should I accept your friendship ?” She asked.
I replied,” I read one of your comments which I found interesting and comic. I thought here is someone who is as fond of humor and as light hearted as I am. Added to this I found you are married to one of my country man. I also liked a particular photo of yours in which you posed as if you are a yogini. I thought, I would like to befriend you.”
She was not fully satisfied. She asked me another question.”Still I am not convinced. Just one comment, however good or comic that may be, can’t be the basis of friendship. Give me some other reasons why should I need to be your friend? ”
I was really at my wit’s end. None had ever cross examined me in this way. Everybody else just accepted my request or didn’t reply me. I was extending requests at the rate of twenty invitations per day. I won’t know who refused or who just kept me pending for a future decision. I was notified of the acceptances only. But here was a woman who was behaving as if I was on an interview for a job ! I had really no more argument to give in support of me. So, out of desperation, I turned that into an argument.
I replied,” Dear Carmen, I know you have not yet accepted my friendship, still you are a dear to me. May I ask you a question ? Do you think by using words, that too in a language that is not mine, I can convince you that I am not a cad, a philanderer nor a womanizer but a sincere man out for searching congenial human beings as friends in the quest for peace and meaning in life ? Don’t you think the more reasons I give the more questions can sprout in your mind, the more suspicions will be fuelled in your mind ? Can my words ever douse your suspicions? So knowing my limitations and the limitations of words, I raise my both hands up in surrender. Now you decide whether to accept or reject my invitation. It is wholly upto you. There is nothing else in my hand.”
Then she relented. She said,”It’s true what you have just said. I am prepared to believe you. I accept your friendship.”
I asked,” Dear Carmen, please put up this ‘dear’ for some time, because it carries the emotions of my heart which is grateful to you, first for arousing my interest in you and then accepting me as your friend. I don’t know anyone’s friendship gave me this much joy as yours because none put me through such thorough cross examinations. I wish I could put all friend invitations to me under one hundredth part of such tests and questions. Do you always ask such questions to all those who ask for your friendship ?
She replied,” Yes, I need to know the person whom I am going to befriend. I cannot afford to let my guards down. There are too many unscrupulous persons on the net.”
I thanked her and my luck and up to this day I have never ceased thinking what would have happened to me if I had not taken her questions seriously or had taken them in the manner, I am going to describe, that happened with someone else. I would have lost one of the most interesting, original and creative minds of our time as my dearly loved friend. I have paid her compliments before and I will go on complimenting her till my last because without her patience, tolerance and largeheartedness I won’t be writing here. No man is under so much debt to any woman anywhere in the world. I hope to repay some by being constantly grateful to her.
That was a very fortunate experience. But an unfortunate experience also happened with another woman of the west. That was for once only and I am not going to repeat that again ever. Unfortunate, because the outcome could have been pleasant but for my fault. I was entirely to be blamed. What I wrote was not normally in my style. So sometimes I think, probably that had to happen, some greater forces probably controlled these things. Who is to be whose friend, how long a friendship will last, to what depth a friendship will go etc, are probably not in our hands. Otherwise why would I write like that? I have never written in that style to anyone else. Let me tell it from the beginning.
It was a usual friend request from me, after reading a very good comment by her on some post, to an American woman named Bonnie Munnell. She replied,” I have received your friend request. I see you have 1700 friends. Are you in the business of selling enlightenment ? If so, I am not interested. If not, what is the use of having so many friends ? How much time can you give for each one ? Can there be any meaningful friendship even with one in that time? I am not interested in such friendship.”
Normally, I like this kind of messages very much because the writers have a genuine desire to know and they have abundantly one thing that I love most in any individual, energy. If she was lacking in energy and interest why would she reply at all? But that was a bad moment for me. I am still ashamed of what I wrote in reply. I not only lost someone who could have been a great friend of mine but also I wrote in a style that was not my own. I frankly admit, that this happened because she pushed a button in me, by writing “Are you in the business of selling enlightenment?” She gave me such a beautiful opportunity to be friendly with her by explaining patiently and calmly what friendship meant to me, how sharing thoughts and experiences and not selling enlightenment or anything else was my goal in forming friendship with all. How though I had 1700 friends at the time, there had never been any message from anyone that required a reply and I had not replied nor a single article tagged to me which I haven’t read, liked or commented. So in short, she gave me a golden opportunity but I wasted that. That is one of the regrets of my life.
O.k.. Let me quote, shamefacedly with tears in my eyes, what I wrote in reply. After all, each one that reads this article is a friend, I hope so, and sharing is what we all are here for, both our moments of glory and moments of defeat and shame. I was defeated for not knowing I had a button that could be pushed. And I repeat, for my benefit, if there are buttons in me,life will surely send someone or the other to push those buttons. I ought to be grateful to the ones that pushed my buttons, as they served me by making me aware that I have still some weak spots to watch and mend. Those were the moments to be even more present, more aware of my inner body,inner being, the Guru within. But I let it all go in anger. I thought how dare she accuse me of selling enlightenment ? What did she know of me to write like that ? What right had she to question about the number of friends I had ? Could she not politely refuse or even remain silent like many did ? All these thoughts flashed in the sky of my mind like flashes of lightening in that moment of rage. In that state of mind, I replied,” Dear Bonnie, I think the time for our friendship has not arrived. Otherwise, to a simple request of friendship you won’t be writing all this. There is a time for everything. For our friendship to happen, that time has not yet come. With deep regret, I finish this letter here. May you be in peace and happiness always.” No wonder, she was not impressed enough to change her decision.

I had thought I would cover some more instances of my good and not so good experiences in FB in this article. But seeing its length, I desist here. I must be thoughtful about my readers’ patience also. And what readers I have been blessed with ! In this age of powerful electronic audio-visual media, where plethora of channels vie with each other for viewers’ attention, there are still readers who patiently read my toddler like attempts at writing and this has been a constant source of wonder, amazement and joy to me. I am deeply grateful to all that read my humble offerings.

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