He is a senior executive in a multinational firm, very active on social media and often spends several hours in interacting / chatting with his friends, the list of which runs into thousands. I remember a few weeks back he told me that he has over fifteen hundred friends on Facebook alone. Similarly on Twitter, the number of his followers runs into several thousand while he himself is following a few hundreds. He believes that being active on social media is essential not only for his reputation and recognition but also for serving his personal and professional interests in today’s environment.
Incidentally, he seriously fell ill last month and had to be hospitalized for an operation. It was a traumatic experience for him and his worried family members who had to run between hospital and home for more than a week, sacrificing own physical comfort and sleep. Ironically, the only other family which really came forward for assistance during the period, was his next door neighbours, whom he had been rather rating low and mostly ignoring in the past due to their humble background being low in social status (in his opinion) and not very well to do financially. Although he promptly received umpteen “Get well soon…” messages on mobile and such other posts on ‘social media’ but other than that there was hardly any response or visible assistance from the majority social media friends (Virtual World as I often call it) during the crucial phase.
I do not undermine the importance of the electronic social media but do not believe in overly depending on it or glorifying it. When I see people being logged on for hours together on daily basis, I really feel pity for them for wasting precious time. It appears okay for spending little reasonable time for leisure and, yes, in certain eventualities, these social media accounts are of considerable use too. So people should have a balanced approach in life while managing their available time for essential personal and professional matters and leisure purposes on social media rather than easily falling prey to what appears as a thrilling and exciting option and experience in the virtual world.
Well, while talking of real friends, it reminds me a story from my childhood. There was this gentleman who had three (close) friends, of them one was a priest, the second one was a businessman and the third was a warrior / soldier in the King’s army. One day, his grown up son asked this gentleman as to who was his best friend and without hesitation he pronounced that the warrior in the King’s army was his real friend. His son wanted evidence so this gentleman took his son along and visited his three friends one by one. Considering the hospitality received in terms of attention paid and food items served, the son concluded that the businessman and priest were better friends in the same order while the warrior was least reliable because when they visited his house, after simply inquiring about their well-being, he continued with his chess game with another gentleman as usual without paying much attention to them.
Now to prove his point, the gentleman took his son for another round of visit to his friends. However, this time the gentleman told the businessman and priest that the King is very annoyed with him, confiscated his property and ordered him to immediately leave the kingdom, failing which he and entire family will be killed by the King’s executioners on the following day. Hearing this, both the businessman and priest started trembling and asked him to immediately leave their house lest the wrath of the king might fall on them too. However, when the same version was narrated to the warrior, he got furious with the king as to how he can be so unreasonable and cruel to his friend. Equipped with his weapons, he immediately geared up to go out and confront the king to save his friend’s family.
I am in favour of the famous saying ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed’. Real friends don’t have to meet or speak daily or show hospitality all the time. They will tell your weaknesses and faults in front of you and praise you for your qualities in front of others. Real friend knows and accepts you as you are, encourages you to grow and unconditionally comes forward to help you in need. Instead of having a long list of friends, if we have even one friend of the kind referred to above, we should consider ourselves lucky.