This weekend, I met my friend at her place for a weekend lunch party. It was raining outside and everyone was happy, sipping wine, talking about technology, laughing out, and listening to classic Ghazal.
“This is one moment that you’ll find at almost every happy Indian gathering, even if they are hosting a party in the Moon.” I said to myself quite randomly, out of happiness that was too contagious.
The host, my friend, was not that delighted. I wanted to ask her if she was tired, if everything was okay. But we, Indians, prefer doing “actual” things, like help in this case, than executing irrelevant questions and answers. So I started cutting onions, praising her almost-done curry, and talking to her about other good things of the world.
It worked. She smiled and gave me a hug.
“You know, I am so upset. B [Our common friend] did not like my Facebook pictures for a month. She didn’t even text me. She’s avoiding me.” my friend started the conversation.
“Maybe she is really busy. She has a job and a restless family. She goes to yoga, does crafting, and manages everything by herself.”
“Oh! So, it’s my problem then that I don’t have much things to do? Now, you’re taking her side. No one can be so busy. It’s just that she doesn’t need old friends anymore. She’s ignoring.” my friend revealed, “Last time she called me, I was chatting with another friend. So I asked her to call later. From that time she vanished. People can be so selfish.”
I looked at my friend, trying to understand what really was bothering her.
“Have you tried calling her after that?”
“No. I don’t like calling people. Calling is just outdated, but I wrote on her FB wall and she did not respond. People change.” she murmured.
“Maybe you should knock on her door, or call.” I advised.
Our friend, B was not having good time in her life. And like all other people with faith in friendship, she tried calling couple of good friends to share things of her life, to ask for help and advice for improvement. It was my friend who did not answer B’s call. It was my friend who did not think of calling back or checking later. And like all mortal things, when bad time faded really soon, my friend B closed many windows of her life. She had only one person beside her during her bad phase, so she learned to ignore other 200 people out of her 201 friends in the friend-list, to focus only on one. “One genuine friend is better than many fake ones.” she gave me that input,” You know people really don’t mean what they say. There are fake “I love you” s and real “I love you”s. There are real friendships and there are many fake ones. So I am cautious about investing emotions and time.”
This week I kept thinking about two different versions of the same story of my friends.
In this age of social networking when people appear more social than ever, we balance two worlds: the one that we can hear, touch, smell, see, feel; the other one that we can only feel, by reading and contemplating. Since most of the times we draw judgments based on our feelings, it’s easier to judge people quickly in the second world, the virtual world, in which other sensory organs are not needed.
A simple status/tweet on “How life is boring” makes us believe that a friend is not enjoying her life. A friend’s social networking absence makes us believe that the friend is ignoring us! We do not have time to call family and meet friends, but we can spend two hours on sofa checking people’s statuses and tweets. And I have a few friends who avoid direct conversations after misunderstandings; instead they throw provocative picture quotes, posts filled with jibes at each other. I have understood that social networking has created many narcissists. Many of us imagine that the world is only about us and our own problems. If we are not busy, we try to believe no one can be that busy. We forget to judge ourselves and try to find fault at others actions.
But, this is something new that I perceived this week. There is a distance between our words, that distance multiply if we are not on the same platform of life, and slowly the meaning of our words and the words themselves evolve. That distance is made of time and circumstances. Sometimes we forget our own words, promises within a week. Sometimes we utter fake words to make a real connection. Sometimes, how we read is different from how it was written. Sometimes our mood defines our perception. Sometimes we articulate exactly what we feel, but the other person gets completely different meaning. Sometimes what we feel and the word we use to express it do not match with each other.
Maybe, that’s why a face to face interaction makes our words more credible. The way I say “Perfect” and the way you understand it seeing me saying it, is quite similar. But with increase in physical distance, distance between our words becomes infinite. We assume what we want to assume. We create easy conclusions. And maybe we’ll always be doing those because easy things are more popular.
I know that there will be more tools, applications, virtual platforms for human interactions in the future. There will be many misunderstood words, newer dilemma, momentary loss and gain in friendships. But, in all, the best way to lessen the distance of our words will always be a knock on the door, or maybe a call. Because in a real world, to understand each other’s words, we’ll always need to hear giggles, touch a few drops of tears, see each other through grief, smell happiness and feel the warmth of friendship in everything that we come across.