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Last updated: 18 June, 2010
Rachna Bisht-Rawat 23:58 IST

TREND WATCH

Mark Zuckerberg may sputter and wipe the foam off his mouth but fact is that Facebook has found its destiny with the 30/40 plus guys and not their teenage kids as was first intended, writes Rachna Bisht-Rawat

Sorry Mark! You may regret why you didn’t add a block-those-born-before-1980 tool to your invention but now it is too late. Mostly, it is uncles with receding hairlines and pot bellies and aunties with coloured (grey) hair and two school-going children who are logging on to Facebook, the invention that revolutionised the boring world of the 30 plus guys — in short our generation. Old fogies, Time magazine impolitely called us, but since 40s are the new 20s, hah! Do we care!

Mind you, this is not just a few of us but a whole generation of ‘friends’ — siblings, NRI cousins, relatives, uncles and aunts with their own set of ex boy/girl friends, old schoolmates, college mates, batchmates, coursemates, even ex colleagues from the various jobs changed who are infiltrating the social networking site and filling it up with more and more of their kind (read age).

What makes it scarier for Zuckerberg and his pals is that by our sheer presence we are scaring off disgusted teenagers for whom the site was originally intended. It has become a ruthless jungle out there where parents stalk the news feed and teenage kids close accounts after months of ignoring mom posting albums in various poses, ducking wisecracks from uncles and aunts who think they are really smart and explaining to dad what they mean when their status says: in a relationship.

Finding an old heartthrob

Yes, the old fogies have taken over! And with good reason. Facebook is tailor made for those who left college in the 80s. In those quiet days before the internet boom when there were no cell phones or e mail, snail mail was the only way to keep in touch. Little wonder then that we lost touch with all our college pals, moving on to different cities to try and eke out a future. Twenty years passed when we married, had kids, lost and found jobs, got bored with spouses, sometimes lost a few of those as well. And then a newer generation introduced us to Facebook. We approached it skeptically, fiddled for a while with the friend finder: would she be there? That beautiful girl in the Arts section who never looked up from her books but did give us a shy smile when we crossed each other. Believe it or not, she was. We had to peer a bit carefully through those glasses, eyesight not being what it used to be, and there did seem to be about 20 kilos more of her than there used to be. And that gave us the courage to tuck in the stomach and send her a cocky “remember me” message. She replied and we became friends, even if it took us 20 years plus. The birds began to sing, violins played in the head and yes, we were 19 once again. So this is what Facebook did to some of us. It brought back the romance.

Why it’s tailormade for us

Indigestion keeps us up till late in the night. If we do get to sleep, insomnia wakes us up in the middle of the night. So time zones don’t matter and at our age, we do have friends who have migrated across the globe. So we can be chirpy at 3am, chatting with our New Zealand based pal, or catch the American at 5 am just before she goes off to bed. Since they find it difficult to sleep as well, they can also catch us late afternoon, but then it might be in the middle of our afternoon siesta.

We don’t care for privacy settings

We don’t want to protect our personal information from any kind of exploitation. We never bother with “friends only” kind of tabs. We simply don’t care who looks at our pictures or emails us. If strangers approach us for friendship we’re flattered. It just means the ten-year old picture we put as profile shot is actually working. And if that 20 something, just out of college, wants to be friends, let him find out the truth and commit suicide. He has only himself to blame.

At our age, we’re not scared of anything or anyone – except maybe an angry spouse. Use us for third party ads and we’ll probably just create a new album and post it to our profile.

Finding friends we lost to time

Blame it on early Alzheimer’s. We had almost forgotten them but they did dip into our memory now and then bringing a fond smile, something we don’t do too much of these days. Our old classmate Tony with the flick that he would constantly shake out of his eyes. Shivi of the sparkling eyes and wicked sense of humour that could reduce girls to tears. Or even that first colleague we now remember only as Satishji, who would lick his moustache when in doubt, causing the editor to caustically remark: “Agar itni meethi hain to hamen bhi bataiyen, ham bhi chatenge.” Or even bearded JNU dropout Randeep, who had the vocabulary of an angry sailor and was found drunk and sleeping on the subs’ desk one early morning, making the late city edition even more late.

Thanks to Facebook, they are all on your friend list now. And you’re meeting them at a December reunion in Delhi. Life suddenly has an interesting new purpose.

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