New Delhi: At some point in your life you have wished you had the spontaneous timing of Chandler Bing to wriggle yourself out of a sticky situation armed with nothing but scathing wit. The iconic American situational comedy F.R.I.E.N.D.S might have redefined popular culture and made inroads into the Indian set-up, but in the last decade it was social media that shaped the way we deconstructed our lives for complete strangers and made friends.
When Facebook was launched in 2004, it was just another website that connected the people you had lost touch with. You still wrote letters (snail mail) and called up friends. As its worthy predecessor, Orkut was the site everyone had a profile on - posting photos, writing steamy bios that were mostly lies, asking for recommendation from friends. The bubble burst when spammers found their way around the website's security features.
Friendship still meant getting a spangled card that played music on your birthday. The complex labyrinth of relationship on social networking sites that the youths today balance was a thing of future in the virus-infected Orkut days.
The complex labyrinth of relationship on social networking sites that the youths today balance was a thing of future in the virus-infected Orkut days.
Over the years, Facebook has been joined by its competitors Twitter and Google Plus as Peddlers-in-Chief of online kinship. There are many manifestations, but these 10 stand out as the main vessel of making new friends who, while remaining unobtrusively virtual, shape your online persona and give you support.
These are, in essence, 10 lasting rules of virtual friendship that you have used at some point in your life to make a point, offer solidarity, show dissent and stand by the person you have called a 'friend'.
A Friend Request: This is the old-fashioned (by the standard of social media) way of approaching someone you want to know better. Irrespective of the gender, the friend request is the tool of those smitten by a killer display picture. Once you are on the other person's radar, it does not matter that you resurface every three months to write a post on her wall, your initial objective has been met. This may or may not bloom into a special relationship but full marks for trying.
Like: You are the loyal friend that 'Likes' every update he posts on Facebook. It's a tacit understanding between you and him. He 'likes' your Singapore pictures when no one else does, and you 'like' his PJ in the middle of the day. You are twins separated at birth in the 'Like' racket.
Custom Posting: You exclude all else and tag only your trustworthy FB friends in the picture of a new butterfly tattoo covering your cleavage. This is hot stuff and in the wrong hands it could prove fatal to your virtual life. You know that the three lucky friends you shared it with will guard the photo with their lives.
The 1 am FB chat: It was the 1 AM call in the 90s. Today it's the 1 AM chat with whoever is on Facebook to share your agony. Mostly it's the usual suspects - the friends you have made online and whose nocturnal habits you know like the back of your hand.
Follow Friday: If you're are a regular on Twitter, you know the countless murders that have been committed for a 'Follow Friday' request. If it's from a celebrity, it means a spurt in followers. You can toil for years and still be stuck with your 57 followers, but a recommendation from a Twitter heavyweight will result in a surge in your social stock price.
Standing up to trolls for your virtual friend: You spot trolls attacking a friend of yours on Twitter - what do you do? You jump right in. You are completely unaware of the provocation that has led to the online scuffle. But it's your duty to defend your mate. Secretly you think the troll is right but you'd die before you admit that.
Events: You create a random 'Event' on Facebook to meet up with new people. 'Going out for ice-cream on July 11, 5 PM. Join me?' Send the invite to your new buddies, see how many reply with Yes, No and Maybe. Nobody will turn up. But you tried.
Hangout: The Google Plus Hangout is the new Cafe Coffee Day 5 pm date. You get a webcam and invite your virtual buddies to a virtual Hangout. You spend four hours in a beauty salon before you meet them and when you do, casually say 'oh I was cooking all day, I must look a sight!'
Check DM: The ultimate closed group intimacy option available to users on Twitter. In the middle of a discussion your friend is having with other users, you tweet to her - 'check DM'. It essentially means you have something juicy to tell her that you do not want others to know. A Direct Message could be anything from a 'babe stop being such a dolt' to 'I like your boobs'.
'Sneak' and 'This': If Twitter had a 'Like' button like Facebook, it should be called 'This'. It's the most common way of endorsing a buddy's tweet. You retweet with a comment 'this' with arrow heads (>>) pointing to the tweet for emphasis.
You find out someone has said something unsavoury about your friend on Twitter without actually tagging him in the tweet. You make sure you write something scathing defending your friend, this time marking him in your tweet so he knows what the fuss is all about. In short, play the sneak.