Estd. 2006
The Asocial Network

Dhiraj Kumar

Price: Rs. 195
People who start their day with face booking, spend half of their office time in posting, liking and commenting on social networks and end their evenings by using their status updates to write 'Good night friends' or other such predictable lines, hope you have a strong digestive system, 'cause, Dheeraj Kumar, the Jamshedpur born IITian and debut author takes a bow and claps for himself as we gape open mouthed while he rips us apart with his musings on our behavior in the real and online world.

Here is a book that I tried my best to disagree with. However, in the end I could not help but nod my head, albeit slowly, secretly and silently. Based on his keen sense of observation of human frailties, the author explores, discusses and candidly expresses his thoughts on how online social networks especially Facebook, cleverly took advantage of our basic and inherent need to be appreciated, admired, thanked and portray a 'larger than life' image and  got all of us hook, line and sinker into brushing our teeth while checking our notifications for the number of 'likes' we received for our 'just - 5- minutes- back', posted clever one liner.

In the process, however, Zukerberg also joined the top 20 richest on Forbes 400. But who cares about him. We care about us. Our image. Our popularity. Our number of friends…all in the virtual world. Err…in reality we could be…someone whose social network is limited to his wife and her side of the family.  

Of course, there are areas in the book (to my delight), that can be hotly debated,   Please feel free to take advantage of the situation and give him your mouthful. Dheeraj, that is for being so nastily right in most of your observations/deductions.

Just to give you a fair idea let me give you some sample lines from the book. And mind you such provocative statements/questions are evenly sprinkled throughout the book -

"Perhaps we are all unsatisfied with the one real life we are all blessed with?"

“We are all deprived of an audience; we are unsatisfied with the normal course of events that fill our days.”

“Why do I need to know what moods my friends are in and what small wonders they are performing in their daily lives?”  -  “…'feeling awesome', 'taking off home', 'feeling bored,' proud father of six babies'”   

“Why this urgency to come up with something new when your old post is still in the public place, although it may require some scrolling down. It is like trying to outsmart all your friends by coming up with something new”

“The human mind is not capable of maintaining friendship with more than 50 friends at a time. We are simply not designed to communicate with so many people all at once.”

I think I will spare us the pain. This is too much. I agree.

Review by poet and writer Sujata Parasha 2012