Opinion Columnists 13 Mar 2021 Stop being paranoid. ...
Sriram Karri is the author of the bestselling, MAN Asian Literary Prize longlisted novel, Autobiography of a Mad Nation

Stop being paranoid. Your FB friend won’t give money even to your original profile

Published Mar 14, 2021, 4:12 am IST
Updated Mar 14, 2021, 4:12 am IST
Trust me, no one is rushing to helping your fake profile owner loads of money on his mere pretence of being in trouble
If people have a reason to pretend to love your children, or pets, or care about your diet and exercise, or your last holiday in real life, then only is their pretence a real fake, else just a solicitation for a barter. (Photo: AFP)
 If people have a reason to pretend to love your children, or pets, or care about your diet and exercise, or your last holiday in real life, then only is their pretence a real fake, else just a solicitation for a barter. (Photo: AFP)

Don’t worry, all of my dear 4,789 Facebook friends, and relax. The world is not coming to an end just because someone from Nigeria or Hong Kong or Sweden has faked your profile and is sending friend requests to your friends.

No, we don’t need your hysterical postings, warning us of a future scam. We have all received emails with $4,340,234,092,408,434 or more lottery wins for years and have managed. No, you won’t be held guilty of any sin of omission if you don’t adequately warn us either.

 

It is actually a confession of something else. Firstly, it is our secret desire for being famous, or at least relevant and noteworthy to a large group of people (whom Facebook dubbed friends), which is back at work. It is the original kitsch of social media. As FB grew as a network, we had more people linked to us by technology, and the phantasmagorical algorithms decided to understand us better, and who to link whom when, how frequently et al, it kept that one magical allure kicking – we speak, reveal, expose, confess – and they respond.

 

So today we warn people, with the acquired air of a benevolent premise, ha, please don’t fall for tricksters; they are after our relationship. They will pretend to me be and ask you for money. Don’t fall prey.

Actually, you are the one who has fallen prey to the algorithms’ illusion. No one will give you money, at least not your friends on Facebook. It is your mistaken notion of your importance that is coming to the fore. You are too important and your friendships on Facebook are too strong, too real. Sorry, but you must wake up and smell some coffee. The real one.

 

For one, FB friends barely mean it when they like your photographs, and one can hardly fault them. I mean, your home, your car, your children, your pets, and your real micro details. Like the juice you drank, the kilometres you ran, the exact spot you were at five minutes ago, all with a hashtag.

Understand, this is a mutually convenient interactive play – they click on likes for you in exchange of your clicks of likes for them. That is all. Else, the biggest hashtag response from everyone else you are connected with on social media would be a choice between #WhoCares and #SoWhatShouldIDo?

 

People when not bartering flattery and attention will only be as liable to any courtesy or goodwill or friendship on FB as in real life. If people have a reason to pretend to love your children, or pets, or care about your diet and exercise, or your last holiday in real life, then only is their pretence “a real fake”, else just a solicitation for a barter.

Are you a rock star? Are you a film star? A sport icon? The president or CEO of a billion dollar corporation? Or powerful enough to make people’s dreams come true in real life? Like you can give them a break? No?

 

What then, let us suppose, are the chances of a random stranger, or someone merely familiar on sight, opening up her or his wallet and giving you a loan of several thousands of rupees. Or on receipt of an email, will transfer several hundreds of dollars by wire on flash mode? Nope? Trust me, no one is rushing to helping your fake profile owner loads of money on his mere pretence of being in trouble. Now, if that the original you were in trouble and put it up as a post, they have icons for it. Love. Care. Sad. Wow. Even Angry.

Does it anywhere say transfer money? If it was a real option, would the genius of Mark Zuckerberg have missed it? No sirs, you are in no real danger of benefitting from money transfers from your FB friends. What then are the chances of some impostor successfully collecting it from them? Just about as much as sending the lottery email.

 

There is a lot one can expect from FB friends. They will wish you on birthdays with virtual cake and other icons of party paraphernalia. They will say happy anniversary with digital flowers. They will click icons on a barter deal, unless they are really trying to please you on FB for a larger return, a real good deed from you in real life. They will share your anger and feel equally offended when you share something political.

They will join you in making fun of a third party you both share contempt for, or pretend to play along, for a larger fun of telling them you said such things to that person. In short, they can be coaxed to do a lot of things they needed an excuse to do. They will feel secret envy at your success but pretend to be happy. They will fake sadness at your losses for a real dose of schadenfreude later.

 

But they will not give money. Or come to actually attend your book launches and buy a copy for you to sign. Or buy tickets to hear your singing concert or watch your dance performance. Or to actually stand with you holding a candle when you lead a protest.

That is what real life friends do and the rest you have to earn. Then you don’t need friends to do all that – you have a real following. It is not Shah Rukh Khan’s friends who go to watch his movies. Or his real life friends who attend Narendra Modi’s rallies. Or Kohli’s friends, real or on FB, who fight for tickets to watch him play.

 

The pretend likes that you are as good an actor, writer, singer, thinker, politician, activist will end on Facebook. And seldom translate into money. Till then, let it sink in. They won’t even come for your funeral, but make no mistake, on FB, they will RIP you. With a hashtag. The chimera that is Facebook is our real hearts and souls. The real fear of the denizen is he will find out the truth he deeply already knows and fears.

Don’t worry. Quote Rumi. Be carefree. When your impostor sends a friend request, and then asks for money, he will get my like. And nothing more.

 

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