“Internet Hai Toh Friendship Hai”

November 30, 2012 at 9:15 PMNov (Friends, Media, Musings, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

“Buy a phone which supports Wassap,” said a student friend and added, “Then we can be in regular touch.”

On another day I heard another student friend telling one of her classmates, “Join Wassap. Its easy to be in touch with it.”

On both occasions the same jingle rang in my mind, the jingle of the Airtel ad which has the line, “Internnet hai toh friendship hai.”

On my birthday last year, to my surprise, a dear friend who had not been in touch for long called at the stroke of midnight. I asked my friend why was she absconding from my world and my friend after giving a series of explanation on how hectic work is and what not said, “I have a BB now so I do not even come on gtalk.”

That was the first time the jingle had hit me on my head.

Why these incidents that I quote disturb me is because not just that our relationships are operating only in virtual space and are becoming technologically driven but how relationships are being defined by technology and how the condition of our times has pushed relationships to a level where relationships also become a tool to sell products and inject consumerism, in the hands of a market driven society.

By equating the idea of friendship with a product what has been done is that first of all products are being sold in the wrapper of friendship making the human quality of friendship a tool to sell and then making friendship depend on the item being sold. So what happens is that eventually the wrapper gets its value only because of what is wrapped inside and wrapper becomes a dependent on the item being sold though in the beginning, it was only a tool to sell the product.

Mixing the need of man- human touch- and greed- material requirements- what market has done is disturbing. Edward Bernays in his book Propaganda had said that better than selling a piano by going to the customers and asking them to buy the piano is to create a situation like say, creating a belief that piano is a marker of a standard house, and make the customers themselves come to the seller and by their own will buy a piano. In a similar fashion the slogan “Internet hai toh friendship hai,” has created the <rather voiced the already existing> mindset that certain products are necessary for maintaining relationships. So with that mindset in operation now for the sake of those relationships the products are being sold and advertising happen by word of mouth method.

These products are very class specific. So what happens, also, is that our social circles become too restricted to a particular class. If I don’t have a BB or on Wassap I will, slowly, I will move out of your social circle and if you are not an internet literate you will slowly move out of my social circle. These products, without our knowing, marks its own inclusion and exclusion which is class driven.

What market driven society has done to us, is beyond our imagination. It reveals its ugly face when we feel an emotional loss and suddenly realize that the loss, to a great extent, was caused because of not buying a product. But to blame those ‘friends’ who want you to be on Wassap or buy a BB to be in touch also appears meaning less. You are asked to “upgarde” yourself because market has equated the idea of friendship and some products.

1 Comment

  1. Zalina said,

    I don’t agree with criticisms of technology holding back people from relating to each other, or even changing the way they relate.

    Personally, I am on fb, I use email and I have an android phone with whatsapp. I have friends who use fb a lot with whom I exchange silly comments and photos, those who abhor fb but are available on email whom I email regularly, and a few whatsapp friends with whom I have conversations once a week or so. So depending on my friends preferences and availabilities, I have relationships with them on all these different levels. I even have one 60 year old friend in a different country who absolutely hates technology and with whom I correspond through snailmail.

    I have found that when there are people I especially like, I will make the effort to reach out to them in whatever way possible, whatever technology they may be comfortable or not comfortable with.

    Technology has in a way brought us closer. Friends in different cities and countries are much easier to be in touch with now. I have also found that it increases the chance of finding friends who you really relate to, previously one was restricted to one’s professional or if a student, campus circle, but now if you like someone’s blog, or enjoy what they post on fb, you have the chance to connect with them, often leading to meetings in person which are very rewarding as they are not based just on being in the same space, but on an actual connection over ideas and interests.

    Recently I used for the first time skype video chat with a friend whom I had not met for two months, who is now on the other side of the world, and the experience was really exhilirating – to be able to see him again and see him smile in recognition of me.

    I don’t even think it changes the way people relate – we still goof around, be silly, share sorrows and joys and vulnerabilities… And even the most self-confirmed geek still values meeting friend in real life and knows there is nothing to surpass that.

    One needs to be the master of technology and not its slave. You need to make it work for you.

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