Today, we have more smartphones and tablets than the number of members in a family. We sit on our couches or slouch on our beds, busy connecting with people from around the world.

But the world was not like this at all, when I was growing up. All social networking was done face to face.

We had neighbours. We grew up with them, till we went to college, got jobs, married and moved out.

We played for hours on the street, till the street lights came on. We played riotous games, and sometimes spent entire evenings looking for a missing tennis ball.

We formed numerous clubs, drawing inspiration from Enid Blyton books, and many other childrens’ movies. We put up stalls, and all kinds of shows for our parents.

We attended exhibitions of butterflies and other insects put up by the neighbourhood boys. We went into the neighbouring woods to collect eucalyptus leaves, which we used to light bonfires.

We spent all our time in and out of each others’ homes, bringing plates filled with lunch, and eating together in a friend’s garden.

We had fights, silly squabbles and long battles that sometimes lasted an entire season.

We eagerly opened boxes of yummy snacks that neighbours sent to us. We went in droves to the home where the first television made its appearance.

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We watched the glorious Indian Monsoon with our noses plastered to the windows – howling winds, lashing rain and falling trees.

We watched the first frost of winter, and gobbled up piping hot venn pongal that was served in the neighbourhood temple.

We knew a lot about each other and our families. We lived at a time when we got ‘live updates’ about each others’ lives.

We had lovely neighbours.


My Social Skill Set

Whether I like it or not, social media has become an integral part of who I am. In addition to all the ID cards I have, I now take great effort to maintain my online ‘social identity’.  Maintaining a social connect is not as easy as it seems. It calls for a skill set that would put top-notch resumes to shame!


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So what are the skills?

It calls for a certain type of skill to read, like and comment on forwards and articles. It calls for a strong memory to remember which jokes have already been received and which jokes are to be forwarded, and to whom?

It calls for round-the-clock alertness. It calls for enormous amounts of self-control to stop refreshing messages. It calls for a calm mind to stop reacting each time you hear a ping.

It calls for the ability to take quizzes about your personality, your IQ and your vision. It tests your skills as a farmer, as a ninja, as a catapult expert, as a word builder, as a selfie-taker, and many more.

Social network forwards play on your emotions. You suddenly find yourself reading about missing children, and raising money for surgeries. How do you verify the authenticity of these posts?

While you worry about these little kids, there is one article that claims coffee can burn all your fat. As you scroll down in happiness sipping your coffee, you read another article which says coffee will make you put on weight. Phew!

Some articles make you guilty, some make you laugh. You read about the holidays people are taking, the movies people are watching, and add your own to this space.

Even if you go on a social media detox program, it will lure you back – back into a world where everything is virtually real.

Over-protective Passwords

I pride myself on remembering people’s faces and their names, friends’ birthdays and anniversaries, most of the time.  Thanks to smartphones, this skill is now slowly failing me.  I have relegated the power of my memory to my smartphone.  I spend time keying in friends’ birthdays, anniversaries, important events and tasks, and then all I have to do is wait, wait for the reminders that the phone will unfailingly give me.  All that my phone asks in return is for its battery to be charged, so that it may discharge its duties to me, its master.

So spoilt am I, that I have stopped trying to remember.  This is proving to be a big problem with the numerous passwords my life seems to require, to stay sane, connected and e-protected.

To be a social-butterfly, to tweet like a bird, to chat with friends, to write an email, to unlock my phone, to access my bank account, to write to my kids’ teachers, to access my blog, to buy anything, to sell anything….all of these seem to require passwords.  And then, each time I transact online, I need an OTP. Phew!

How do I remember them?  Sometimes when an application asks me to change passwords, and I key in something that I can easily remember, I get a polite reminder that says, “This password was recently used by you,  or this password is too weak, please key in another password”.

Passwords are supposed to protect, but I feel helpless.  So, recently, I created a master list with all  my passwords written down.  My husband chanced upon this piece of paper, and promptly tore and trashed it, calling it unsafe.

I have now created a digital document with my passwords, and have ‘password-protected’ this document.  I feel a lot better.  And to remember this ‘mother-of-all-passwords’, I have clues stored on my phone!

Hop, hop, hop, from one password to another, to stay sane, connected and e-protected.