Man is a social animal. I am not saying this. It has been said by Aristotle the legendary Greek Philosopher.
Well, that is Greek to me literally and so it must be to you.
He did not mention Women, but I am sure he meant to include Women too. What about LGBQTs. They are social too. Animals are also social.
In the Garden of Eden grew the Forbidden Fruit and God commanded that this not be eaten. However, In the biblical narrative, Adam and Eve eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and are exiled from Eden.
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
The circle of birth-life-death and the procreation evidences the social existence of humanity.
Gatherings Social /Religious / Otherwise, Weddings/Nikah, Concerts, Sporting Events, Birthday Parties, Addas at street corners and pan walas. Pubs, Cinema Halls, Rites, and Rituals and even Janazas / Funerals indicate how social a human being is. Stick together in life till death do us part and then gather around the mortal body for the last time.
English poet John Donne, writing in the 17th century, famously wrote that “no man is an island,” comparing people to countries, and arguing for the interconnectedness of all people.
That is enough. Let us lose the philosophy for the time being and cut to the story.
The new normal for social? What is it? “Social Media”. Oh Yes.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tinder, Viber, Hangout, Messenger, Snapchat, Linkedin. Tumbler, You Tube, Bumble, Tiktok, Pintrest, Zoom, Skype, Google Meets, Reddit and Whatsapp. Phew and there are many more. Millions and Zillions of people connected through all this. Is that Social enough?
This incident is about Whatsapp.
A great feature of Whatsapp is creation of groups for group chats. While some groups are very common like say “1988 Engineering Batch”, “Table Tennis Group”, “Housing Society Group”, “College Project Groups”, “ Family Groups” and some bizarre groups like “ Frusto Group” of frustrated employees, “ lunch Munch Group “ of office employees having lunch together, ” Despo Group “, ” Tharki Group” , ” Assholes” , fun groups like “Awesome Marathis” of a group of Marathi friends, “ Cricket Lovers Group “, “Kitty Party Group” “ PNPC Group ( Par Ninda Par Charcha )etc etc etc. The list can be endless.
Then there are certain formal office groups. Many a times often created by HR including all employees or a certain level of employees and so on and so forth.
In a Company called Promenade Corporation Limited a Multinational Company there was such a group called Team Promenade.
The group included around 495 and counting employees. This was largely a formal group created by the HR but to some extent was used a bit socially too as people posted jokes, trivia, anecdotes, interesting videos etc apart from HR Communications posted by HR. Not everyone in this group knew everyone but still most participated even with the unknowns in some form or other.
The post popular being wishing Happy Birthdays. Someone would know someone’s birthday in the group and post “ Happy Birthday” and as if like an electric current passing through various conductors everyone in the group would suddenly be jolted awake to wish happy birthday to this person whose birthday it was supposed to be as per the post. The Birthday Person would then keep posting things like “Thank You”, “ So Sweet of You”, “ Thanks for remembering “ and so on.
On a typical birthday the birthday messages and thank you messages back from the recipient of the wishes would go on for the entire day depending on who tired out first. While each wished a birthday the poor wish recipient would generally wish a thank you to each and everyone. I am sure by the end of the day the fellahs thumb would be sore enough for cutting a cake necessitating the requirement of a proxy.
It was a bright Sunday morning and Jamlu had just woken up. The first thing he usually did was look at his phone and check for Whatsapp Messages. As he unlocked his phone and went to his Whatsapp a message suddenly popped up in the office group:
“Happy Birthday Sachin”, This message came from Huzefa.
Jamlu also quickly typed, “ Many Happy Returns of the day Sachin” , checked other messages and went about his morning chores. It was 7.00 AM.
He returned to his Whatsapp again at around 9.30 AM. A lot of messages had come in the office group with members of the group wishing happy birthday to Sachin in varying hues, colours and language.
“ Takle, Janamdin Mubarak “
“Cake and Thumbs Up emojis and images.”
“Where is the party tonight” said another.
“How old are you now birthday boy” Someone was curious.
A gif of a glass and drinks bottle where the bottle would jump up and pour the heady concoction into the glass followed with CHEERS in bold.
Certain images of Bouquets, Flowers, Cadbury, Burgers, French Fries.
“Where is the cake, Sachin“said one more.
“How many candles” said another.
There were certain audio messages too saying Happy Birthday, Birthday Wishes, Mubarak and even a Happy Birthday Song.
One employee even got romantic and posted a you tube link to the song “Bachelor Boy “by Cliff Richards. To which some one wrote. “Hey, he is not a bachelor”.
This was followed by another link to another song “Bade Acche lagte hain ……”
Then someone wrote something in Tamil and most immediately replied saying “Please Translate”.
Taking a cue the Bengalis Posted something in Bengali and the Marathis Posted something in Marathi and the Kannadigas , Tulus, Biharis, Oriyas, Kashmiris, Assamese all followed suit. This made Sachin’s Birthday very multi-cultural and multilingual. Some understood and some did not but everybody knew that whatever be the language it was related to the birthday.
After some time perhaps the birthday was forgotten as messages and counter messages became more important and everyone joined the fun thus unfolding. So people in the group were now chatting with each other triggered by the birthday message of the morning.
Jamlu was thoroughly enjoying this.
However, he suddenly realized that in spite of so many wishes Sachin had not replied at all. There was not a single message from Sachin, not a single Thank you. Now, this was surprising.
“Hey Sachin, where are you”, typed Jamlu, “blowing the candles already”?
Everyone else in the group woke up immediately and messages enquiring of Sachin kept popping up.
“Sachin buddy speak up”, “ Abe Sachin kuch to bol”, “ lagta hai sala abhi tak so raha hai jaga usko”, “ Sir have we got the date wrong”? ““Are there more Sachins in the group?”. “ Kal raat ko jyada chada li shayd”.
“Sachin, Knock Knock”. Someone tried knocking hard.
“Aree don’t worry we won’t drop in mate”
The messages were now getting directed to Sachin but still there was no response.
It was around 2.30 PM now.
Suddenly a message from Girija stunned everyone to absolute silence.
“Friends, Sachin is not in this group at all “. Wrote Girija.
There was absolute silence, and nobody wrote for about a couple of hours.
Finally Pranav wrote “Bhai Log likhne se pehle dekh toh liya karo ki banda group mein hain bhi ya nahi bus uth ke Happy Birthday likh diya. Kal ko agar Mere Padosi ke bhen ke husband ke bhai ke bacche ke sasur ka janamdin ho to kya is group mein likhoge”
Ha Ha Ha.
From then Jamlu never wishes anybody Happy Birthday in Whatsapp Groups. He is many a times labelled Un-social for this, but he prefers to be so instead of wishing someone who is not even there to take the wishes.
But after all Man is a Social Animal.
Sorry Women and LGBTQs too.