Love thy real neighbours

I am no authority to speak on the murder or the possible motive behind the same. The news report brings to light the alarming aspect of our ‘virtual’ dependence rather than focus on the real world.

The two versions of the kind of person the victim was is a reflection of the above. The flesh and blood neighbours opined that she was reserved and wouldn’t talk to anybody despite walking 20 metres to the end of the road for her bus. On the other hand, her virtual friends on Facebook feel that she was optimistic and full of life. Who was the real she? Was she a shy person who found it difficult to interact with real people or was she like many of us trying to hide behind a façade, a wall provided by the virtual world?

My late grandmother used to feel that talking to neighbours was tantamount to gossip. She was too busy raising a huge family and moreover living in a joint family did not need anyone’s help. The same was the case with her neighbours too. But living in a nuclear family the need for neighbours has never been stronger.

Real acquaintances

When my daughter got a serious injury in her chin in 1991, it was my neighbour who rushed to help. It was an age of a long waiting list for phones. People might argue that it is not the case today, but let me assure you that neighbours come to help faster than any ambulance or long distance friend can. My pregnant niece confessed that she hardly knew any of her 27 residents in her apartment block. I told her to rectify the error. She might have scoffed at my old-fashioned views. But, when her six-month baby got hurt she had to depend on her ‘kept-at-bay neighbours’ to rush her and her baby to the hospital!

Indians pride on being warm. People who go abroad face this huge lacuna where we don’t have neighbours peering into your homes! They wish that they have someone to hang out with in the corridors or over the parapet walls. They share recipe, jokes and sometimes healthy gossip too. We need to be wary of malevolent neighbours but I have personally come across very rare ones.

Recently when I was forced to take rest due to backache, meeting real people gave me an ‘instant high.’ Besides, my friends gave me books and magazines to keep myself occupied while I would have to be satisfied with mere commiseration from my virtual friends. Moreover, if I run out of lemon for my tea, I can borrow from my real friends and if I am lucky get a cup of instant tea too.

Getting back to the Dell employee victim, if she had been more forthright, she would probably have been alive for the landlord would have accompanied the stranger for he would be aware of the absent husband and would be wary of a stranger visiting her when she is home alone. He might have been cautious and hung around in case of need.
She shared more with her Facebook friends rather than real people. Recent studies proclaim that being more on net is a cause for depression. I also feel that all these social networking sites have become more a fashion statement as more and more celebrities are baring their souls to the virtual world, beginning with the Big B himself to mere starlets. Amitabh Bachchan was my teenage throb and his adeptness at keeping the media at bay from his personal life added to his aura. Sharing his thoughts and actions in his blog makes him less magical and his larger than life persona is lacking. The same is the case with the other celebrities.

It is common to have a Facebook account. It is an amazing platform to search for and re-establish your lost contacts, but sharing facts about your personal life is not kosher. Moreover, spending precious time on the virtual world at the expense of meeting and making real life friends is detrimental as fatally proved in the sad case of the Dell staffer.

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