Its the mindset, bro!

Why do some friends never change?

As few of the regular readers of my blog might be aware of the fact that I recently returned back to India. And so far, it’s been a very pleasant experience. Afterall, who does not love his/her country or staying with family. I know few might not, but I have always loved staying in India, in my hometown, with family and friends.

So, I met some of my school friends recently. The school buddies are like the oldest friends, we know in our life. Unlike college or office friends, they know our other side which we try to hide from the world. They know the stuff we did before we grew up to become nice, good looking adults, isn’t it? In India, we have a funny word for such friendship, which in Hindi we call “Langotiya yaar or Chaddi buddies!”. I can sense that the Indian reading crowd might be laughing out loud for this, but if I allowed myself to try my best to explain this to non-Hindi speaking or foreign readers, then it comes down to “Friends who have been together since they started wearing underpants!” In other words, friends since kindergarten or even before that.

Okay, so I met these friends ( not many, just 3-4 good old guys). In my childhood days, it was difficult to make friendships with girls due to separation of schools and groups of boys and girls. I bet things have changed a lot now. Anyways, I met them and it was very nice to spend time with them. We usually end up talking about all the topics in the world, be it girls, relationships, money, my US experience, politics, sex etc. In such a close group of guys ( just like gals have their own close knitted group), there is nothing to hide. I mean ofcourse, I do not mean we can talk everything with intricate details, but still it is far better to at least share some things with the old buddies which we usually will never discuss with our family, or colleagues.

But one thing I did observe, that things change in our life. We change over time. But somehow, these friends’ mindset who know us for so long, never changes. They will never forget the mistakes we did back in school, or some pranks which we had done to tease each other. I mean it’s okay to share those fond memories sometimes, but I sometimes feel the friends keep judging us from the old lens of those archaic memories. I mean it’s kind of funny, but some people don’t change their viewpoint. Even if we achieve anything in life, for these friends, we will always remain the same old buddy. That’s good to a certain extent, but then we know life is not the same for everyone, and life doesn’t stop at school also. We all move on, and try out different things in life. Someone becomes more rich, or more educated, or more famous in life or career. And in spite of all this, it should not affect the friendship.

But I guess sometimes, with old timers/buddies, it does get affected. Because they keep on seeing us from the old prism of being in school together or played together. And suddenly, the topic changes to “You have changed bro!” And my answer is Yes, because life changes everyone man!. I have no complaints against them, because after all they are my friends. But what I feel is in spite of good old school friendship, the conversation topics should change and become more mature with time. Some sort of privacy, or even freedom to have certain opinions must be welcomed. It is not necessary to talk about old pranks or funny incidents everytime we meet. Neither is it necessary to compare each other’s life. Because, in true friendship, it does not matter. All that matters is just being together in times of need, being there to share joy and sorrow, in short someone who’s there to say “I’ve got your back!”.

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Old school friends

I think in India, where the culture is more informal, this problem persists more. Ofcourse, it might be there in other culture’s as well. But in my case, my school friends hardly leave any chance to bring out the old topics, pranks, or anything to tease each other. Then comparisons and gossip do follow. The only thing sometimes binds us all together is the long duration we know each other, and due to which, it’s really hard to break off with them. It’s not very easy to get away from someone who knows us for so long. So, then I also have to jump in the pool and throw their pranks, or mischiefs they did in school back on them. Even though I do not like to behave that way, I have to just to ensure I am not the only one left out in the group. You can call it a way of peer pressure. I guess yes it’s peer pressure, but this pressure seems to never end.

Finally, what am I trying to convey in this post? Frankly I don’t know, but maybe the best thing would be to tell them ” Hey, look, you are my best school buddies, and I know we have known for so long. And we are going to remain the same, but just do one favor, and that is For heaven sake, GROW UP IN LIFE and THE SCHOOL’s OVER!”

The social dilemma..

Nowadays, the definition of being social is someone who is active on social media. The basic nature of social gathering which makes humans as social animals, have changed from the open, outward social world to a closed, inward social media world. As it normally happens, that with every change, there are unintended outcomes. So does, the world of social media has changed the world of human bonding, particularly love…

Yes, today we see that people are more keen on finding their love, or soulmates online, through social media. Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram have become the defacto rulers of social media world. And several apps like Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid have become the preferred dating apps for the young generation. Gone are the days when people used to look around their friend circles, or family connections for a life partner. Today, the options are plenty and so are its after effects. I personally find these tools to be useful for everyone who wants to make friends, find dates or just hangout/socialize for fun. But these tools have changed the way dating or falling in love used to be before.

As I mentioned, earlier, it used to be a lot different in finding the right partner. The relationship world was much divided based on their culture, religion, work or even ethnic preferences. People from a particular religion or culture could not easily find someone from a completely different religion or culture to date, lest fall in love. Even if they did, it was not easy for them to carry on the relation due to the way society worked back then. For ex: In India, where the marriages are primarily decided by family and hence, love marriages are looked down upon, it wasn’t easy at all to date or even meet someone from different group. But today, fortunately, this does not exist. These tools have revolutionized the world of dating, and marriage as well. Though still, the matrimony sites and dating apps continue to put on filters based on religion, caste, ethnicity etc. But today, we have the choice to discard these non-pragmatic barriers which society imposes, and select the choice of person, from any background as we wish for.

This is a good change brought out by the social media. But what I feel more concerned is the fundamental change of the way we date or even build a relationship. I mean what is happening on the apps is we often try to know about the person based on his social media profile. We tend to believe that whatever he/she has displayed on their walls is the real life. We forget that the pics which are uploaded are edited with numerous fancy filters. We mistaken for the happy pics uploaded on the photo gallery to be of a successful life. We check how many friends they have in their friends list, and based on that number, we define the social quotient of that person. We see how many countries they have visited, where do they eat, and hangout, or which movies and books are their favorites. All this info is easily available on all the social media apps ( this is what makes them attractive for their user base).

Now, the problem is if all this is already known to the person who is looking for dating or making friends, won’t this influence the person’s choice? For ex: If someone has less friends on his friends list, but he is a really nice guy and good at heart. Now these apps doesn’t tell the world about his good nature ( as good qualities cannot be quantified by some algorithm to be converted to some number). Hence, the world will look at him as a socially shy person just because he has less friends as compared to his peers. Further, the girl who might be looking for partner, might even ignore him, based on this pre-condition.

On the other side, if people meet him personally, then there is much higher chance that they might like him, and they can become good friends with him ( which does not mean they have to officially exhibit their friendship status on facebook). Same goes for matchmaking or dating. We tend to fall for the filtered pics, or first class travel destination videos, or even a toned/muscled physique, and wish to make them our life partner. But later do we find after couple of dates, that they are not the right choice for our life.

I remember one scene from the movie “The Terminal” which many of you might have seen. Tom Hanks who performed the role of Viktor Navorski, helps his friend Enrique in exchange of food to get information about the female officer Dolores. Enrique likes Dolores, and is desperate to know what she likes, where does she hangout, whom did she date etc. Victor helps to get this info from Dolores to Enrique, just like facebook does. But the difference is Dolores did not know who is asking about her, and why is someone taking so much interest in her. This is the real secret of relationship. The true beauty in any relationship is that intimacy, bonding and even to some extent uncertainity about the next step. True relationship blossoms when both of them are longing for each other, to know, understand, and even act to share this bonding. It requires a certain degree of social contact.

Like the one in the famous movie “Taxi Driver” when Travis confidently walks in to talk to Betsy. Betsy doesn’t know anything about Travis, and still Travis manages wonderfully to convince her to take her out for a date. This is the real social skill, which comes by real contact. I wonder if facebook would have been there at that time, and if some Travis who is just a taxi driver sends a friend request to Betsy, how much is the probability that Betsy would go out with Travis for a coffee, based on the online request? You know the answer I bet.

Taxi Driver – Travis and Betsy meet

To know the person in real life, by observing their actions, how they behave, how they take decisions,how they react to certain situations is what glues the thread of affection together between them. This cannot happen through an app or website. And this cannot happen, if both of them already know a lot of info about each other from their facebook profile. The ironical coincidence is the movie “The Terminal” was released in 2004, and it was the same year when facebook was launched. It was as if the days of innocent thrill to go after the person, that desperate desire to know about them, and impress them are a part of history now. Today all the information is at the fingertips, and handy but at the cost of lack of innocence, intimacy and curiosity for each other. And Covid has made even difficult for us, when moving out of the house is avoided by most, and so the only way for relationship to build or maintain are through these apps. Facebook, Snap are getting richer but the quality of relationships and bonding is getting poorer.

Thus, I feel our parents or grandparents generations were a lot happier than ours, as they did enjoy the thrill, the excitement to meet someone, to demonstrate the social skills to socialize and even impress the one they loved. Now, what remains is the fast paced like, share, comment, subscribe based networking, facebook wall dependent profiling, and painstakingly time consuming filtered selfies and pictures to share our happy go lucky faces to the world. I hope that the good old days of meeting in person, sharing the joys and sorrows of life ( and not pics and chats) with each other, and then falling in love to remain life long partners still remain in my generation ( Millennial and Gen Z). Lets end this post just like the happy ending between Enrique and Dolores…..

The Terminal – Enrique proposes Dolores