Human beings are social animals. This was my introduction to the word “social” in school.
Today I wonder how much of a social animal am I?
All I could come up with were random percentage parameters. And even then it was difficult to quantify if I was 50% social or 80% and how do I calculate where I stand on the scale. There are times when I am a recluse and would like to simply curl up with myself rather than talk to anyone and then there are days when I cannot get enough of people. If being active on Facebook, Twitter, Orkut a parameter for being a social animal then perhaps I am one of them. I have often felt I am more social online then one would find me offline. Being a social person comes naturally to me when I log on to the WWW. Perhaps a lot can be contributed to my hectic work hours and 6 days of working that beyond the usual time I spend in front of the computer I rarely find enough inclination to socialize beyond it.
I have always been inclined towards people. I get along well with people; am good at being diplomatic even with my enemies and usually have never found myself alone among strangers. When I was a school going girl I used to write letters to unknown pen pals across the globe and used to enjoy sharing each others lives at least in spirit. With the advent of the WWW things got simpler than postage stamps and it barely took much more than a few clicks here and there to make online friends. Yes I do have a set of online pals with whom over the past few years I have either lost touch and they have remained as just glowing icons on my yahoo messenger or I have connected with offline and become a part of my life.
When yahoo chat was the in thing in college I and a bunch of friends would spend hours online chatting up males and generally having some good fun online- the taste of the forbidden fruit indeed was very alluring since it wasn’t a done thing then! There has been a time when we even had to change our cell phone numbers to avoid a few pricks and those were such learning experiences on trust. I have fallen in love online and never regretted that. As I grew up and moved to my present occupation networking –social and professional became a part of my work profile. Being in HR ain’t very easy if one is reclusive and I am a blessed extrovert. I am still in touch with my childhood friends, engineering friends and knew everyone at my MBA college (seniors/juniors & batch mates).
My first social networking site is Orkut and I was introduced to it when I was doing my MBA at IIMK. The whole world and more I knew were hooked onto the site and so was I. Was fun, interesting and new and I did add a few random people. As I moved out of college into professional life I joined Linkedin to stay connected to like minded professionals. It was a breakup that introduced me to Facebook. I was told it was a fun place to hang out on. That was 2007 and I think I haven’t yet got bored of Facebook. I have made a lot of friends through Facebook and have found a new lease of life through the site. Photography which is adds meaning to my life today found new meaning on Facebook then. It helped me connect to professionals as well as amateurs and gave me a medium to have my work appreciated by a lot more people that it would have been possible otherwise. Though I was on Flickr I was pushed into the limelight after I connected with the right professionals through Facebook.
I wouldn’t have called Flickr a social networking site since the basic idea behind the interface is to share images online and not exactly network but today I correct myself. Starting an online/offline photography club in Mumbai called Mumbai Weekend Shoot on Flickr did help me meet a lot of like minded photographers and make life long friends in the process. I met amateurs, hobbyists and a few professionals and have picked up skills and admired their work on the site.
If I track my social interactions for a day I would say I do log into twitter first thing when at work and clear out my Facebook notifications along with checking out my Flickr account. This and of course Gmail has been a part of my daily “TO-DO” list for quite sometime now. Once works done I could meet up friends for dinner or coffee or movie. Parties are limited to Saturday Nights and Tweet ups, Alumni nights, HR Meets, Photoshoots, Exhibitions and my Sunday Morning Breakfast Club meets are a definitely must MUST –DOs! Sundays are kept for meeting up with likeminded photographers and shooting in the morning, followed by breakfast (SMBC) with a movie later. There are times when impromptu shopping sprees do take place sometimes with a few friends and sometimes alone. Till sometime back I used to fuss about not going alone for shopping or a movie but I guess am over that now. Baring these few activities I do tend to meet up everyone back home when I go for my annual visits and visiting relatives and friends are a priority then.
I do segregate my friend list into different categories – best friends, close friends, friends, school, college, IIMK, acquaintances, online friends, I have not met, professional contacts, photographers, twitter etc. Since I am connect to 1000+ people on Facebook it makes it a little easier for me to manage the lists. I am pretty much the same person to everyone barring the ‘I have not met’ list of people since I would rather be a little less open with people I don’t know. It goes without saying only a few of these people are on my phone contact list.
The best medium to be in touch with most of the people on the list is through Facebook chat with a select few on my Gmail/Yahoo and then a filtered few on my Phone Contact List. I somehow don’t feel I am one of the ‘pick up the phone’ for a random chat person. I rarely make calls to catch up… I would simply send a sms or catch someone online- a less intrusive medium and then perhaps meeting for a drink or so later in the week. But I do spend hours on calls with friends when they call me up. This for those I cannot meet. Definitely a sms works most times for me when in a hurry. For those who I can I am often catching up over breakfast, coffee or dinner and the topics could be as varied as the latest development in HR ( professional contacts), to photography tricks and tips ( photographers), to regular updates and business discussions ( batch mates) and gossips (friends) and random stuffs ( tweet ups ) .
Thirty years of existence..
I moved from mingling in my school, family circles to the safer domains of batch mates and then colleagues and then strangers ( not under compulsion of course). Today I may not know the next person sitting beside me on my long commute home but I know a smile and quick question on the weather or the book he/she is reading can strike up a conversation. I also know one disinterested look will ensure I am not disturbed when I am spending some quality time with a book or simply staring out of the window at nothingness. It is surprising how at ease I feel in a crowd and how easy it is for me to be a part of the teeming millions. Do I feel pressurized to be socially active all the time?
Perhaps not much since I realised the blackberry, internet can be switched off anytime I want and I would still have my world running as smoothly. I have none but one deduction today.
I am human. Hence I am social.