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Friday, January 10, 2014

Chp 491. Mizo Society: Relationship and Technology

Most people usually don’t accept friend requests on Facebook from strangers. After all, they could be weirdos, creepos, stalkers, or even burglars who’ll prey on an unsuspecting victim’s house when they see a status update that the person is out dining or away on a vacation (yes, such things really do happen in today’s world). Apart from that, most people prefer being “friends” only with people they actually know in real life.

However, in our Mizo community, I don’t think it would be wrong to state that many of us, especially guys, accept friend requests from strangers as long as they are Mizos too (unless of course you’re an eccentric private person or a famous local celebrity).

In a way, we feel as if that person is not a stranger if there are many “mutual friends” between us because we’re such a small and close-knit community with a total population of less than the number of people residing here in Andheri, Mumbai. And some of us also consider it rude not to accept a friend request from a fellow Mizo, though that doesn’t apply to everybody.

Hence, Frigyes Karinthy’s “Six degrees of separation” theory would probably be reduced to just “Two degrees” if we look at our Mizo online community alone.

And that brings in new complications and phenomena when it comes to relationships and break-ups.

Back before the days of 3G, mobile phones and social network sites, when couples break up, it means just that – cutting off all ties from each other. And those who had broken up, rarely came across each other again… and even if they did, there was just the awkward hello and bye, or the “pretend not to see each other” drama.

However, in today’s world of advanced technology and emerging platforms, one can easily drunk-dial an ex from the sweet comfort of his or her bed, ushering in regret the very next morning. Imagine back then, you tried to drunk dial an ex. That would usually mean walking up to an STD booth, waiting in a long queue for your turn, dialing the number only to have her dad or his mom answer the phone… naaah you’d rather just pass-out than go through all that. But the good thing was, there was no regret the next day :)

Today, everything is at the tip of our fingers. Smartphone, 3G connection, easy internet recharge pack, all leading to a very connected social life online, making it really hard to escape the past among our Mizo online community. 

Even if you’re not friends on Facebook, there are always those mutual friends around. Hence, every now and then you chance upon his comment in a friend’s status update, or at numerous Mizo Facebook groups like “Special Report”, “Chanchinthar”, “Mizo Nuthlawi Chhelo Pic Post na” group etc where you see her comment (and if you’re still not over that person, a tinge of jealousy does creep in when you see other guys liking her comment, even if the comment was just a simple smiley).

And if you DO remain friends on Facebook after breaking up, then prepare to face all sorts of different ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends. Here are a few of them I’m sure you must have come across in today’s Mizo online world…

There’s the ex who still “likes” every post you make but never comments, the ex who leaves a “hmmm” comment when you’re commenting continuously with somebody of the opposite sex, the ex who tags you in every photo he/she posts, the ex who posts really cryptic and ambiguous status updates (“aarrghhh. I hate you bitch, you slut, you whore.”) making you wonder if it’s you he’s talking about (but then, of course you can’t call him up or message him to ask who he’s talking about because he may interpret that as you stalking him or still not over him, hence leaving you with doubts and uneasiness for the rest of the day), and the ex who directly bitches about you even though you know she knows you can very well see that status (“Jerk, you said you don’t like bekang when we were together and now you’re having it just because your new girlfriend made it? All men are assholes. Go to hell.”)

And then there’s the married ex who updates every single profile pic of hers with photos of her new born baby, the ex who openly flirts with all your friends, shaming you for being in a relationship with him in the first place, the ex of an ex you suddenly became best friends with because you both hate the same ex, the ex you still run to for technical assistance whenever your computer or phone conks off, the obviously drunk ex who posts nothing but sad break-up songs and poems on his wall after 11 PM, the ex who still “pokes” you and then sends you a sad smiley mail when you don’t poke back, the ex who “untags” you and deletes every photo of the two of you from his photo album, and the ex all your common friends publicly teases you with if you ever comment on any of her status updates.

Around 10-15 years ago, most of us would have been extremely uncomfortable if our current boyfriend or girlfriend was still keeping in touch with his/her ex. In fact it was an unwritten code back then to avoid an ex if one was in a new relationship. Today, due to social network revolution, this has now become more or less of a joke. People who tell their current partners to “unfriend” or block an ex are now in the minority. The world has moved on and remaining friends with an ex is now considered a social norm. I once helped campaign on Facebook for the ex-boyfriend of one of my ex-girlfriends for a popularity contest (most number of likes) because she asked me to! And he came in second. And all three of us were happy after that.

So, to conclude, in a close-knit society like ours, has technology changed the way we deal with relationships?

My cousin (who is much older than me) told me that young Mizo guys don’t come to his house to “rim” (woo) his young daughter (my niece) anymore, and instead they do it online through Facebook chat, Skype, Facetime, WhatsApp, Google Hangout etc. He’s a bit old-school but he feels that is safer because according to him, (a) they end up spending more time with different people and yet there is no physical contact, and (b) that way, young guys can avoid extremely awkward situations like when different guys land at the same house to rim the same girl at the same time.

But then, with the good, comes the bad. Like how ease of access leads to an increase in infidelity. Or the rise in number of “leaked” scandalous photos and videos meant only for the prying eyes of one’s lover. Rather than being more discreet, more people are now installing apps such as SnapChat and Wink that promises to delete sent photos within 10 seconds. Location based Geosocial network apps like Foursquare, Gowalla and Latitude (now replaced by G+ User Locations) are also becoming a popular trend among young Mizos. However, with the way we blindly trust our fellow Mizos, if not carefully used, miscreants can misuse this feature with dangerous consequences, as is already happening in the West.

Many app developers are now targeting the “couples market” by making couple-exclusive apps like Avocado and Couple (which has now been renamed to “Pair”) where things shared are only between the two people involved. Perhaps our Mizo community will pick up on such apps as well, instead of publicly flirting online or having a lover’s quarrel and airing one’s dirty linen in public for all to see. That just… leads to further embarrassment for both parties later.

So are things really different now when it comes to relationships in our Mizo community?

Well, the playground may have changed, but the rules are still the same. Instead of slyly glancing at the hand of a cute girl you meet at a friend’s house party to see if she’s wearing a ring or not, you now stalk her Facebook profile to see her relationship status or photo album for any boyfriend or husband. Instead of sitting next to her and coyly analyzing her body language like the way she’s sitting crossed leg with her knees pointing towards you and high heels dangling on her toe while she plays with her hair, you now instead analyze her replies on Facebook or how long it takes for her to reply on WhatsApp after she has seen your text. Instead of asking her what her favorite things are, you now turn to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc. to see what are the brands and movies she likes or follows. Yes, same ritual, just a different mating ground.

As a tiny community, we should be wary of new technology, especially when it comes to privacy settings. Make sure you don’t over-share with strangers if you’re not comfortable with it. And pay heed to new technology. I actually have a few friends who used my usb charger connected to my PC to charge their phone battery, and ended up syncing all the images in their phone’s gallery to my Dropbox cloud account!!! :) And by simply accessing my cloud data storage via wifi, I gave them a mini heart-attack when I showed them their private photos from my phone :D

Treat new technology just like how you treat a new relationship -> You don’t want to screw things up, You’re careful at first, You don’t rush in, You tread carefully, and You never get involved with it while you’re piss-drunk, otherwise it will lead to disastrous consequences you’ll regret for the rest of your life. Have fun, play safe and keep on loving.



zakk sangkima said...

I'm so many of the ex's u mentioned lol. Good read and intriguing too. The nature and social effect of what you do with each other after a break-up has also changed. Like you said, back in the day if its over it's over, but now after a break-up you delete an ex most people say your immature or this and that. An old bloke like me did that so i had to sheepishly add them back, just to avoid further name calling. lol Cheers!

Mizohican said...

Hahahaaaaa sending friend requests again to your ex'es, now THAT is priceless, lolzzz :D

Tetea said...

Sometimes I find it difficult fitting into a society where everyone is expected to know everyone and everyone looks up to the person who 'knows' the most number of people.

And online social network sites just compound matters for the worse.

I have my close group of friends. I don't care that you care that I don't like to socialise too much with friends of your acquaintances just because they're mutual friends. And I like to talk about stuffs like hobbies or something interesting, not about the lives of other people or how that guy is the ex-boyfriend of that girl who is related to this guy but married to another person due to family pressures.