3 Dec 2011

Small World + Big Data = Not So Great Second Date

So I was thinking (and thinking is never good): if the internet and the mobile phone and budget airlines have all made the world smaller, why is it so much more difficult now to connect?



I remember growing up in Trivandrum,   all those years ago. Those days, it seemed almost normal to make a new friend every other day. Not a friend for life admittedly, not a bro or a wingman or any of those sitcom-flavored forever-relationships. Just people, people who would calmly step into your life with a lightness of feet and clarity of purpose so transparent, you practically welcomed the intrusion. The Trivandrum Public Library was a great place to make new friends; playing cricket in the little lane we shared with the other three houses on our little residential colony was another. Strange kids would step up and ask you when you planned to return The Five Find-Outers mystery you were holding. The conversation would turn to other authors of interest or maybe a new movie, and for the rest of the summer we'd talk and eat ethakka appam in the old canteen and swap books. And every now and again, a new kid would show up with tennis ball and MRF-emblazoned bat and maybe a bottle of Pepsi and ask if he could play the next game; "I live right around the corner," he'd say," in Shanti Nagar, and I saw you guys playing yesterday and I thought I'd join in."  It seemed like the most natural thing -that somebody passing by would want to do that- and of course we'd let him, if a little proprietorially of the house rules. Because every group of children who've ever had to make do with a straight strip of cement instead of a grass-green cricket ground have their own rules - dispatching the ball into the unfriendly neighbor's house was out, you could only bowl under-arm, something or the other. But we made do. And they came knocking. And we went asking. And we played.

Its not much harder to meet people these days. But unlike then, you can't help googling (yes, it is a verb) a new acquaintance every time you make one. Inevitably, you're hit with a storm of information - confessions of bed-wetting on their blog, photographs of bad hair days on Facebook, shameless self-promotion on Linkedin- and you can't help thinking its all a little too much a little too soon. Of course its your fault for looking; but its also human nature isn't it? You don't clap a hand over your ear if you just happen to be sitting next to a loudly bickering couple at a boring conference. Why do people do this then? Why do we put ourselves on display for such intense inspection, why do we voluntarily make ourselves vulnerable to constant public character dissection? I know I'm as guilty as the next person, and the only reason I can think of is that its somehow gratifying to get a response, to be heard. And because a response -any response- is sometimes so much more gratifying than just being heard, we constantly create content that's guaranteed to do just that. Which also means a lot of those "OMG!!" moments never actually happened. Or that picture where you're "soooo drunk!" at "Pat's pad" was really just a picture you took off your own sleepy self after a boring movie marathon at Pat's pad. Or maybe Pat doesn't even exist. I don't know. It's just so frustrating when you meet someone and you meet them a second time loaded with all that detail from the internet, dying to talk all night about their passion for wildlife or a new band or cooking in the nude, only to find that it was all a carefully constructed branding exercise.

Whereas all those years ago, it was okay to find out the new kid with the great bowling arm has a disgusting habit of rubbing snot all over the ball because you've already known him for a good few weeks then. You've exchanged sweaty high-fives and smelled each other's farts and met his sociopath parents before the disturbing snot-revelation, and while its no less disgusting, it is eminently more forgivable. He had time on his side, we had something going already. Finding out on the second date that she really doesn't like the Screaming Trees all that much on the other hand is the deception of an almost-stranger. And that much more grave. It leaves her with no chance really. You already don't trust her, you already think she's a drunk or an exhibitionist or a wonk.

What's the solution then? I don't know. But if you're going to piss yourself every time you have a few mojitos, I'd rather find out after we've known each other a while. Or I could just not find out at all if that's possible; just go to the bathroom or don't get that drunk. Either way, don't let it show up on your Facebook page in the  form of a picture of a wet denim-clad crotch and a hundred thousand comments below it all touting the tune of "Oh no, not AGAIN, tee hee!". Really? We've known each other a total of three days. We've only spent three of those hours in each other's company. What am I supposed to do with that kind of information? What face do I put on tonight if you order a drink? You've only just gone and ruined my Saturday night. You silly little piss-pot.


  *Image courtesy Weheartit

    

5 comments:

premanjali said...

OMG!!! I think I am still laughing...

Once again beautifully written...being a quote nazi that I am...loved this one - "Just people, people who would calmly step into your life with a lightness of feet and clarity of purpose so transparent, you practically welcomed the intrusion. "

As for the posts and rambles...well I am pretty guilty of it myself...I often say "I write for myself" - then the question is why make it public - go write in your diary or a private blog or something...the only answer I can think of is (besides the feeling of being heard) making a connection...if and when some random person somewhere reads some rubbish I am confused, frustrated, upset, happy, amazed, etc, etc about and says "hey! me too...but it went such and such for me etc, etc"..its interesting, its sometimes humbling, sometimes a revelation...and ofcourse the few compliments along the way are the cherry on top...so all in all...its amazing! :)

As for all the people out there going on dates - MAY BE you want to consider "Privacy Settings" for your online world before making up things (or not!) on a date...

Haha! i am going to go and re-read your post now... :)

icyhighs said...

Heh I quite like "quote nazi". Definitely using that and passing it off as my own!

My own excuse is that nobody who knows me personally knows I have a blog. Which in some ways seems more depraved - like a stranger at a party who opens up too easily?

I'm glad you're enjoying what you do, and keep writing.

premanjali said...

@quote nazi - Well immitation is the best form of flattery..so thank you! ;)

hehehe...yup not many people I know, know that I own a blog but then again i dont really go out of my way to hide my identity...so if someone is looking it wont be that hard to make the connection but then again - its always intriguing if someone bothers doing th homework..and i think i went off speaking with myself again...which usually results in me making not much sense...

Moving on, I am lately at a loss of inspiration - think i need to get my heart broken or may be get someone to die or something... ;) morbid? I know..i was joking there...

Anyway...later...

premanjali said...

I just suddenly realised...no 3rd date?

Lol! I actually came by looking for a post on the 3rd date...You were too short (in more ways that one! :p) for that is it? (*am teasing*)

Tsk tsk. :p

icyhighs said...

I think we (she) decided to stay 'friends'. Presumably the kind who routinely poke each other on Facebook, but turn and run the other way if you ever spot each other across the road.