Saturday, November 19, 2005

You have 0 friends

I've been hearing about Orkut, Friendster and bunch of other networking sites for a while. I've been given those umpteen invites to "join my friends" network. For the longest time, I felt these were a waste of time. I got one more today so decided I'll just go ahead and join-in. That way, the next time someone wants me to join, they can see that I am already there and they probably won't send me mail (what was I thinking).

So anyways, I signed up. And then sat there for 15 minutes updating my profile. Telling the same thing over and over again. Trying to convince this HTML form, that yes, I do have a life. Trying to fit my life into those neatly defined boxes. What are my passions, what are my hobbies, what are the sports I play, am I straight? am I gay? What kind of women I want to meet, what kind of business network I want to create? What books do I read and what languages do I speak?

The feeling suddenly gets you: what if, your life doesn't fit in to those tiny little boxes? Hmmmn, does Rupert Murdoch have a profile like this? or Bill Clinton? Vajpayee (can he type? does he know how to get online?)? Britney Spears??

Then, after all of that, comes the amazingly shocking part: you have (0) friends. I know, I just created the profile and haven't added anybody, but think about it: "You have 0 friends". That sounds very uplifting! Here is another metric to judge you buy. Oh he has a 100+ friends, "must be popular", she has only 10+, "who wants to talk to her?" Another "box" to fit and define your life.

"But why are you taking this the wrong way?" "You are only saying all this because you don't really have any friends you can add!" Err... hate to burst your bubble, but I do. I just find it weird that instead of actually being out there, meeting, talking with people, we are being forced to confine ourselves to an XVGA view port into the world, where we deal with jpeg avatars of real people and communicate not with our hearts and tongues, but with our digits and a decidedly odd QWERTY keyboard.

We as a species have been chosen by nature for our strengths: communication, collaboration, creativity and ingenuity-in-overcoming-the-various-things-that-nature-throws-at-us. Birds can fly, so can we (airplanes, hang-gliders, hot-air balloons). The winter's really cold, and so we have fire. Food rots, we have refrigerators. If predators hunt us, we group and set up traps. Life is about finding challenges and conquering them, not fitting your life into a set/defined pattern.

Nature hates stagnation: randomness and egregiousness is encouraged over set, defined, deterministic attributes. Life at every level wants something different, something new, something more and something better. Better is very often just different.
The most basic form of life, the virus, does it. It mutates. So do our cells: human germ cells undergo meiosis to randomly scramble our genetic code so that we are always trying something different. So do we and so does the stock market.

Life does NOT and SHOULD NOT fit in to small, well-defined boxes. Don't just type, go forth and conquer. You'll make friends along the way.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Life's little pleasures

These are the things we live for: life's little pleasures. We slave through days, weeks, months, years and ages; tolerate the burden of existence; repel the ennui; fight disease in ourselves and our loved ones; triumph over rage; trounce defeat and post-pone our final moment all for this.

Not for a trophy, not for a mantle piece, not a photograph, not even a memory. Just the fleeting feeling, that evanescent perception of happiness for a vanishing moment, that moment when we close our eyes, rest our heads back, smile to ourselves, open our senses and feel gifted. Whether we believe in God or not, we thank Him for scripting that moment of pleasure in our lives.

Dear God (whether you exist or not), Thank you. For I just experienced one of those moments (I'm trying real hard to hold on to it, hence this blog).

What just happened? well nothing big really. just a little pleasure.

I was sitting at home, about to fall asleep when the mp3 player shuffled on to a song. I've heard lots of songs on my home theater, it sounds awesome, i know it. The lights in my room respond to my claps, i know it. My couch is comfy, i know it. The song, Tera Mera Pyaar, i've heard before. But i haven't felt all these together before, not like this.

I clapped twice and the lamp went off. The TV responded to my remote and its glow quietly extinguished. In that dark room, I lay down on the futon and the song happened to start playing. As the notes of the song flitted through the room with stereophonic precision (with some gratuitous help from my audio system), i closed my eyes, smiled to myself, opened my senses and felt gifted. nothing big really.

Thank You, Douglas Adams.

Thanks Douglas Adams for writing a trilogy (in 5 parts) with "Life, the Universe and Everything" as one of the titles (book number 3, actually). It makes the perfect title for my blog, as I shall comment on all those (and much more) in this blog of mine. Please accept this blatant "inspiration" from your work as my humble tribute to you.