The purpose of a networking site is not to be connected with people you know. Oh, no, not at all! Its primary purpose of existence is to give wings to a certain breed of people who could never fully take flight in other communicative realms of the Internet, be it email, chat, or online forums. This breed of people takes root and flourishes in the bracing atmosphere of a networking site. They have plenty of material to feed upon, lots of encouragement and nothing and nobody to hold them back, nothing to lose and all to gain. Yes, you know what manner of people I speak of. They are the annoying, the pitiable and the unstoppable…
Welcome to the world of the frandshipper. Your basic frandshipper is fully equipped with a networking site account, time and energy to waste in volumes, and the perennial belief that all the females in the world are dying to communicate with him. The average frandshipper is male (to date I have never encountered, nor heard of, a female frandshipper). Most are young, though it is not odd to come across middle-aged ones as well. Frandshippers abound in different varieties and come in all shapes and sizes.
What is frandshipping?
The term ‘frandship’ stems from the awful ‘text speak’ most frandshippers tend to use,
which manages to convey the basic message without proper spelling, grammar or syntax.
A ‘frandship’ is initiated when someone sends an ‘add me’ request, a post/message or both to a total stranger’s networking account. The success of a frandship is based on whether the request is accepted or not. Acceptance of the request means that the frandshipper has obtained bragging rights regarding the girl being frandshipped; “Dekha mainey kitni bachiyan phasaee hui hain!” (see how many chicks I’ve bagged). And the frandshipped girl dumps her personal preferences, opinions, experiences, habits etc. to a total stranger in turn for his personal preferences, opinions, experiences and habits.
Note that frandshipping does not constitute having an online version of a pen pal of the same gender as your own. That would be known as net friendship, between net friends, and it is generally sane. Frandshipping, however, is primarily a male out to pull in as many females as he can. Whether there are female frandshippers out there pulling in as many males as they can to their networking accounts is a phenomenon I am not aware of.
Introducing…your average frandshipper:
Personal profile: One glance will tell you that it has been laboriously worked upon so it
draws chicks (or, the more derogatory desi term, bachiyan) like pins towards a magnet, though it normally has the opposite effect!
Frandshipper: I’ll throw in some mention about zooming around Defence in my red BMW, add some comments like “I’m too hot to handle”, garnish with long monologues about me as the coolest person in the world, and my profile will do half the work for me! Long-winded accounts of my confusion and frustration with the world, humanity, life and myself will help.
Display picture: It doesn’t take an Einstein to deduce that this is the icing on the cake
that the frandshipper has spent hours perfecting-ahem! Most display pictures are good for a laugh, with wannabe-coolsters posing in every angle known to man. The remaining minor portions of frandshippers have normal display pictures which do not make you question the frandshipper’s state of mind. Middle-aged persons usually have their passport-sized photograph (complete with blue background and granite facial expression) as their display picture.
Frandshipper: After spending thirteen-and-a-half days with my mirror and camera, I have come to the conclusion that the best picture of myself to put on my networking account is one with me in sunglasses, a headband, hair spiked up with gel, and staring at a point fifty-two degrees right of the camera. I have formulated the foolproof way to get chicks/bachiyan to add me to their contacts list!
Album: It will contain at least one picture of him in a cool pose. More advanced
frandshippers will have their entire album devoted to themselves.
Frandshipper: The display picture is not enough! I must strive to present a full and untainted image of myself through these pictures, one in my garden staring at the shrubbery, one in a restaurant with my head in my hands, and another staring straight into the camera with my hat cocked at a dangerous angle. A picture of me in a vest will serve to show off my brawn to the starving female populace.
The signs of the advanced frandshipper:
n Every second message other people on the website have sent to him is, “Do I know you?” You delete his pickup message, and during your sojourn on the website, discover that every female on your contacts list has been sent the same message.
n You post on a forum (of which he is a member) in the networking site and the next time
you log on, you have frandship requests from him, his best friend, his neighbour’s cousin, and his milkman’s brother’s teacher.
n His received messages are peppered with the life accounts of various deluded females, as they divulge various insignificant and/or important facts about themselves, and discuss various insignificant and/or important facts about the world and its many happenings.
The signs of the wannabe frandshipper
n The amount of contacts he has outnumbers the messages he has received from them.
n His profile description, reduced to its barest elements, is nothing more than “I don’t understand myself, the world, or the basic purpose behind this profile description”.
n His profile is longer than his receieved messages page.
n The date on his most recently received message is 5000 BC.
The pickup lines
Where would a frandshipper be without pickup lines? Every type of frandshipper has his own brand of pickup line, which he tweaks and hones until he has a whole range of them. Any female who uses a networking site must be familiar with one or more of the varieties in the spectrum.
Too cool: I don’t need to post any message to get the gal to add me to her contact list, a lone “add me” request will do. I am so cool, after all, that the request itself will suffice, the gals will fall out of their computer chairs when they see it!
Reaction: And I’m Angelina Jolie!
Too cool too: I won’t be the one to send the “add me” request; posting “hi” will entice her to add me herself!
Reaction: I am so completely thrilled to see a greeting from a total stranger.
Straight to business: “I wanna be frndz wid u. Plz dnt ignore.”
Comment: The sheer originality of this statement just bowls me over.
Nursery school dropout: “Hi, I need friends. Will you be my friend? I don’t have any friends. You’ll be my friend then? I think you’re an interesting person. So will you add me?”
Reaction: Do I need to say
Smooth talker: “Your profile is so nice/your name is so beautiful, you must be beautiful too/when I came to this profile, I could go no further/(insert cheesy comment here).”
Reaction: The market stock of butter has just been exhausted!
All bases covered: “If I say hi, you may say, ‘Who’s this?’ If I ask for a chat, you may say why? If I ask you for a coffee, you may say what rubbish. If I say I liked your profile, you may say I am flattering you, if I ask for friendship, you may say I am flirting, so can you please suggest to me how to start a new relationship? I am here looking for friends. Please do reply.”
Translation: “I’m so clever I’ve contradicted myself.”
Mr. Genuine: “Congratulations on winning so-and-so, will you be my friend? I was in the audience/participating alongside you. Remember me? The boy to the left of the stand to the back of the chief guest’s seat. So you’ll be my friend? After all I am your well-wisher.”
Reaction: No, I’ve chosen to do frandship with the boy sitting to the right of the stand to the back of the chief guest’s seat instead.
Genuinely genuine: I am familiar with the fact that you exist. On the basis of this unshakeable truth, I want to enter into correspondence with you, or at least display you as a contact in my friends list.
Comment: I suppose the fact that there is no sense in this, hardly matters.
Bottom line? No matter in what coloured packaging or with how much ribbon you wrap “will you frandship me”, it remains what it is.
The million-dollar question: Why?
From Hollywood stars to our very own desi pop singers following their example, the message is projected that a macho aura stems from having a troupe of girls hanging off your arms. This explains the need of frandshippers to gather girls into their contact lists: to project the same image.
Speaking of needs, a lot of today’s misled youth’s needs are self-created. Thus you have the need to ogle girls, the need to frandship them…you get the idea.
What with little to no understanding with parents being an established thing in most of the youth’s minds without any effort to budge the stance of the relationship, and groups formed among students leading to as many outsiders as group members, it is not unfathomable that people seek relationships in the dark and murky waters of networking sites. Why they set out to do frandshipping instead of finding some net friends is something beyond my comprehension.
Abuse of the power of the Internet
The Internet distorts reality, giving people the freedom to do things they would not do practically and in person. How many frandshippers would actually approach a girl and ask, “Will you be my friend?” It would be absurd. Consider a networking website. You are approaching a real person for frandship, but the Internet sweeps aside the absurdity. Would you enter into correspondence with a person of the opposite sex just because he asks you to? That’s what happens in successful frandshipping, where people divulge their personal preferences, habits, opinions and life experiences after receiving en electronic message from a person about which there is no proof that they are who they say they are.
The only reason frandshippers continue to plague networking sites is because out of all the people they request frandship from, the ones who give them a positive response and frandship them, encourage them to continue with their frandshipping.
The time-worn justification
If everybody does it, why can’t I? What a great philosophy. It opens the gates to all kinds of activities for which we do not have any real justification.
When things like ‘study’ and ‘prayers’, along with ‘self-development’ and ‘relationship-building’ are relegated to bottom-of-the-barrel status and constructive pastimes occupy all the bottom notches, there is much time and energy at one’s disposal to direct towards mindless pursuits.
Study: Isn’t it enough to bemoan the trials of education with frands?
Prayers: Since when does it do me much good anyway?
Self-development: I’m not a good person and I never will be, so why try?
Relationship-building: That’s exactly what I’m doing, establishing new relationships. No matter if I haven’t had a real conversation with my parents since I turned twelve and I don’t speak a single civil word to my siblings; I’ve never tried to understand them anyway, it’s too much trouble.
Nothing better to do
This is a consequence of misplaced priorities.
No matter how concerned and thoughtful your frand seems, frandship is a pastime. Relationships of this nature are merely time pass (frandship is a relationship, a mockery of a true relationship, but a relationship nonetheless). The people who strike up romantic relationships in real life just to play around with emotions and have their fun, they take form as frandshippers on the Internet.
It’s time for your daily stroll. You decide to take a new way today. The new path you choose turns out to be quite irksome to walk on, and just as you were thinking about turning back, you fall headlong into a pit that appears suddenly at your feet. You are, understandably, very annoyed at the situation, and once you get out of the pit, you waste no time in telling everyone from the milkman to the neighbour’s dog that the government should spend more time putting up danger signs where they should be.
Now look at the signs on the path that leads to relations between people of the opposite gender. No vain talk. No needless mingling. You may very well ask, why? The answer is simple. Our religion. Yes, Islam, the word at which many people roll their eyes and turn the pages quickly to get to something more palatable. Islam does not lead you to the brink of sin and then put a “do not cross” sign there. No. It puts a “do not cross” sign at the path that leads to the sin, so people do not come near it.
The bottom line is that Islam considers personal involvement between people of the opposite gender who are not married to each other wrong. If frandshipping is not personal involvement, then what is it? Here is the root of the matter. One’s personal interpretation of frandship influences one’s acceptance (or rejection) of it. People who view it as harmless fun and time pass can hardly be expected to see the whole picture. Until there exist people who will accept frand requests and those who will send them, frandshipping shall thrive as a threat to, and proof of the lack of, the sanity level on networking sites.
Originally published in Us Magazine, The News, on October 26, 2007.
Link to original: http://jang.com.pk/thenews/oct2007-weekly/us-26-10-2007/index.html