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Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021
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Post-Geography Of Modern Friendship

Confession: I took a Facebook daily-fix break before writing this. Pl like and share!

Post-Geography Of Modern Friendship
Photograph by Narendra Bisht
Post-Geography Of Modern Friendship
outlookindia.com
2016-11-03T20:24:03+05:30

Eudora Welty, whose writings were defined by a sense of place, once said, “Geography is fate.” Last week at the Eudora Welty lecture at the National Cathedral in Washington DC, Salman Rushdie told us of his father learning with dismay that he was going to be a writer. A piteous cry, almost involuntary, came out of his father’s throat. “What,” he cried, “will I tell my friends?”  

Facebook, launched in 2004, recognised this truth about the centrality of friendships. It gave the world snapshots of lives at six degrees of separation unfolding 24x7—a mountain climbed, a toilet leak fixed, a daughter married off. Teenagers bought into it at once, the rest followed. Its overlapping Venn diagrams of networks transcended time zones, and geography was no longer fate. Between a sweet birthday cake and a bitter divorce, we got a perfect haiku and a grainy TBT (throwback Thursday) picture of better times.

A dozen years later, we have almost two billion Facebook MAUs (monthly active users)—more than WhatsApp (500 million) and Twitter (284 million) and Instagram (200 million) combined. So much for its doomsday predictions every few years. And contrary to rumours of millennials fleeing this space after baby boomers stumbled upon it, the most common age demographic is still 25 to 34. Smartphones have helped enormously. Half of the younger users go straight to Facebook upon waking up, and almost half of marketers report that Facebook is vital to their business. Work or play, there’s no dodging its grasp. Facebook Messenger, at 900+ million users, has caught up with WhatsApp (also a messaging app, now owned by Facebook) and has a host of new features, and its web articles load an ample 10 times faster than elsewhere. Facebook, along with the expanding Facebook Messenger, is all set to be the one-stop...

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