“I am going to delete my Facebook account, I can't take it any more," said the voice on the other end of the phone.
“But why? Are things alright? Is there something you’d like to share?" I asked, bemused.
“He thinks I am too addicted to it and hence I don’t attend to the basic needs of my family."
“But will that solve all the issues? Will it make you happy, when you know well how much we all look forward to your posts?”
I could understand the delicacy of her situation – they were sulking and guilt-tripping each other and in order to resolve the daily conflict she decided to break all ties with social media. And despite the sincerity in her voice, I could sense that this was a forced sacrifice and she would lose a part of herself in the process. I knew it because I had been there myself; I know how self-denial and self-sacrifice result in low self-esteem.
It was March 2008, and I had to accompany my husband to the United States on a H4 visa (which meant I had no work permit). A new country, a new life and new people, but nothing attracted me. I was gripped by loneliness – I had no friends, no one to talk to. Even calling my family every day wasn’t possible due to the exorbitant ISD rates back then. Except cooking for the two of us, I had nothing much to do. I would wait the whole day for him to return, to sit beside him for a while, to feel human and not like a droid anymore. But did I have anything to tell him? What would I share – that I cooked, read a few pages of a book and slept! No, he wasn't very interested in my stories and why would he be, what riveting tales did I have to offer?
I would keep looking out of the window, wishing I could find someone who would listen to me, who I could hang out with and be myself again. The friendly and sassy girl I used to be was lost somewhere and what was remaining was a sad and depressed soul. I wanted a retreat; something exciting that would help me come out of this isolation mode and rediscover myself. Just when I was about to surrender to the reality of what was, I had an epiphany: "Why not open a Facebook account and connect with my old friends? It must be something great, as it is the talk of the town!" And with that came forth the real me – I was born again, with new hopes and dreams!
My otherwise dull life started looking buoyant and vibrant. I could always find someone or the other to chat with, there was so much to see, and so much to learn from. Of course there were moments of despair, when everyone else's life would look better than mine; they all looked successful and well established, while I was relying on virtual media to protect my sanity. But I was mostly soul-searching in a totally new way. I would be inspired by others' lives and try things for myself – I started jotting down my experiences and feelings, I would sketch and cook various dishes. My hitherto prosaic life had suddenly turned into a roller coaster and needless to say, I was enjoying the ride.
I was blessed with a beautiful baby girl in 2009, and social media also acted as a refuge from the postpartum depression that engulfed me.
And now it was his turn to wait for me, to long for my attention, to crave my time. I was extremely busy, busy in my own small world, lost between my kid and social media, which would keep me beguiled and contented. It was then that he started missing me and my company.
Never before had he realised that my stories that sounded so insipid
a few days ago were actually his favourite pastime after a tiring day.
But a few things, once gone, never come back and I had decided to let go of my loneliness. I had finally found the way that would lead towards happiness, and even if it might look irrational and illusory to many, to me it was and still is the best relaxant and antidepressant.
It’s been 8 months since we moved back to India and I now have a fulltime job to keep me busy, apart from the two Facebook groups that I manage with a friend. Social media helped me regain myself or I would be lost somewhere in the crowd.