What happens when an embarrassing comment about you pops up on Facebook? You either hope the earth will swallow you, or you swallow the truth, says Indu Saksena Bedi.
The seeds of my public embarrassment were sown two years ago, on the day my long-distance cousin hurled abuse at me for not being on Facebook and for not touching base often enough.
In my pre-social networking days, 'technologically-challenged journo' and 'remnant of a bygone era', were just two of the terms the said cousin used to describe me. Then and there I decided to upgrade my technological skills. I took the leap and registered on Facebook.
For a while things were fine. I progressed quicker than hoped. My friends list (or badges of honour) totalled 50 and I was enjoying the friendly banter, the agenda of mutual admiration clubs and the sharing of long-distance photos, poetry and random musings&
Although, knowing the sensitivities associated with a public portal, I trod with caution. I would research privacy rights, privileges and security of user accounts, and mentally filter the invites.
Yet despite my cyber paranoia, the inevitable happened. What I did not factor in was the need for good manners among newcomers as I excitedly began posting invites to several long-lost friends, cousins and acquaintances. And then a month back, she appeared: a traitor in the guise of a friend who wrote on my wall. I have known her for years and never found her lacking in social etiquette. But I was mistaken. She said things which you'd say only when no one's within hearing distance.
On a Friday afternoon I spotted it. In bold capital letters, the wall screamed: "Hey dear, You know you'd look awesome if only you could trim those tyres around your tummy. I thought of saying that to you when I saw you when you were here a month ago. Love, S."
After this I decided to go into hibernation and refused to check my account again, surviving on updates from my sister. And as I now know, even she was not completely honest. Someone did reply to the comment with a 'ha, ha' and a 'smiley'. I decided to abandon Facebook forever and vowed never to visit another social networking site.
At one point I picked up the phone to call my so-called 'friend' and hurl abuse at her... but I desisted.
"Am I so out of shape?" I asked myself.
"You know, she probably did it unintentionally and had no clue about it being for public view on the site," commiserated another friend.
"Yes, but what do I do now?" I cried. "Everyone I know will have seen it."
I even looked up contacts on the Facebook support desk to ask them to permanently remove the comment from the system. Another traumatic week passed before someone suggested I hide it, so that's what I did.
But I still plan to be in hibernation from the portal for a while. And yes, the repercussions of the dreaded wall post are evident in my daily routine. I have now joined a gym to deflate 'those tummy tyres'.
As far as forgiveness goes, it'll take some time to make its presence felt just as the tummy tyres will take some time to make their absence felt.