How BBM alerted me to my mid-life crisis
My biggest love of the moment is a technological service that I was never programmed for. Having styled my romanticism on old Hindi film songs, good girl acts (I know we will go to heaven and the bad ones will go to Las Vegas), and Plato's painful analysis of the universe, I believed I was "above" the 10-word, 30-word, 140 word techno takes on life. Dubbed as Status Messages on Facebook and other assorted locations of New Age Expressionism, they left me wheezy with judgment. Shouldn't people's "status" prevent them from defining it by a banal borrowed quote?
Presumptuousness about social networking remained my favourite accessory as I plodded into my early forties. Being a Luddite also had to do with a harrowing experience of being trailed on the Net and my email being hacked, leaving me scarred for life. Facebook? Twitter? Personal emails? That was stuff wasters did.
One day, someone lamely suggested that I use the BBM for sending the number of texts I did because it was free. Even in the expressionist school of arrogance, "free" is a free flowing jingle. So I "learnt to do" BBM. Sindhi Crawford became my display name. Seeing my clumsy handling, two junior colleagues, treating me like a neurotic aunt, patiently taught me how to work it. Then one of them "added" me. Suddenly, cute little emoticons familiar from the sms site, bobbed up with a verve and nerve when paired with people's display pictures, status messages and the paraphernalia that now makes our "personal" life. Two of my closest friends, noticing that I was warming up, insisted I get on to the big bad world of BBMing.
For the first few days, the idea of "free, immediate, chats" lured me. It was a private nano theatre. Background colours changed as more than one participant entered a conference, you could punch 10 messages in the time of one and spice it with sweet little symbols for emphasis. Talk to the Hand, Not Interested, Surprised, Huh, Whew, Dancing, Rolling On The Ground Laughing--these little yellow emoticons all available on the sms too are somehow an unavoidable part of BBMing. They brought a rush of adolescent excitement to my bored nerves. But something stronger had been stirred. A casualness in conversations, a lack of propriety, an overstepping of boundaries. Was I then finally losing my dumpy retentiveness? BBM became my surrogate Facebook. Changing my "status" every half an hour with updated pictures of life around me and putting it up became a compulsive obsession. Clothes, state of mind, diet, holidays, dreams, exercise routines and nightmares: I began hanging it all out and felt the lighter for it. I also put up pictures of the men I have had a crush on—stuff I had never done but suddenly want to do now. One day, while watching Raj Kapoor and Vyjanthimala's film Sangam and Rajendra Kumar's doomed love, I realised I was desperately in love with the thought of unfulfilled romanticism. "I love Jubilee Kumar" (Rajendra Kumar's moniker then) went my status. The next instant everyone on my contacts list wanted to know: Who is Mr Jubilee? What does he look like?