How Facebook Showed Me I'm Not As Hot As My Help

30/06/2015 8:21 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
An Indian man opens a Facebook page on his mobile phone in Hyderabad, India, Thursday, May 17, 2012. The company's shares are expected to begin trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market on Friday under the ticker symbol "FB". Facebook is likely to have an estimated market valuation of some $100 billion, making it worth more than Kraft Foods, Ford or Disney. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.)

Social networking, specially Facebook, for me is the platform through which I discuss the things that I love with people all over the world who are on a similar wavelength. I share my passion for music and Jimmy Page, my beloved animals, my treasured books. Each day I am enriched by the experiences and thoughts of my friends. To me, Facebook has never been about posting 80-odd photos of an enviable trip to Switzerland, or "checking in" at the Maurya Sheraton, while actually having anda paratha in the excellent dhaba nearby. There was a brilliant meme doing the rounds sometime back which said ''People are not what they all post to be!"

Then again, I am quite aghast at the outpourings of love and lust for which Facebook is often used, especially with husbands and wives being "friends" with each other too. I cringle when status updates proudly proclaim details such as "Day 1 of Honeymoon: I have found heaven on earth."

However, nursing a bad head cold and fever due to the weather change in New Delhi, I was forced to spend Friday night in bed, declining with a heavy heart, the beautifully crazy friends' invitation for "Sabbath, Soup & Momos". This led me to be on Facebook deep and long into the night.

It was a night of revelations.

"While she was her usual hot, chhamak-chalo self in pink and purple, I, not adequately caffeinated, looked sullen, Grinch-y with mascara streaming and in grungy jeans and a T-shirt."

I finally checked out Facebook's friend suggestions about people I may know. Amongst the suggestions were many real-life friends not on my FB list, office colleagues, doctors, my parents' friends, animal rights activists, event management guys, lawyers etc. I realised that these were my mobile contacts on my smart phone which had been accessed. I don't know whether this was a recent change because I stay pretty much disconnected with all these upgrades, permissions, privacy settings and so on.

My Facebook friend suggestions also included the most essential people in my life and mobile: ( a) my household help, Sandhya Kumari,( b) my local momo wala, Danny Lepcha, ( c) my cook, Joy Biswas, ( d) my neighbourhood street-food chap specialising in masala boiled eggs and omelettes, Babloo Kumar and (e) my man Friday, Brijnath Yadav.

Perhaps then, somewhere, the Dark Gods laughed. Voyeuristically, I went to their pages.

There, I found that Joy Biswas, my cook, while on two days of sick leave, had actually gone to see the Taj Mahal with his wife. Their uber-romantic image in front of the Taj Mahal did not melt my heart or lessen the pain of eating leftover pizza for two days. I smiled at Danny's profile picture of him feeding stray dogs. No wonder his momos are spectacular, I thought. Babloo Kumar, the shy, earnest reddi-wala from Chapra Bihar, had posted a raunchy Bhojpuri song. The lyrics made me blush beetroot red. The devoutly religious Brijnath Yadav had updated his status thus: "Yadav ji Rocks".

The one that killed me was a picture that my help Sandhya had posted. It was of her and me in the morning. While she was her usual hot, chhamak-chalo self in pink and purple, I, not adequately caffeinated, looked sullen, Grinch-y with mascara streaming and in grungy jeans and a T-shirt.

The photograph had 127 'likes', with comments like jhakkaas (hot), oofo sundori (oh beautiful), kahaan se suit liya hai (where did you buy the dress from) etc. I realised that the entire domestic help community of South Delhi and possibly the ones that keep saying a deferential salaam-namaste to me, on my reluctant morning trips to Mother Dairy, had seen this photograph. A tragically annihilating comment on the photograph was "Yeh teri maalkin hai? Ekdum style nahi hai re! Tu zyaada mast aur hot". Translation: 'Is that your mistress/employer? She is so un-stylish. You are more hot and happening".

I slunk back from the world of terror created by Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook hasn't been the same since then.

A version of this post appeared on The Accidental Sufi.

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