How Facebook Changed Me

Chingkheinganba Thangjam *

Facebook Logo

"Indomcha, nungairiba nattro? Eeche Langlen di phone su paikhatpide. Nanaobi do chaorammani. Mayaa hourabo maabo?" Yes, that's an absolutely rare moment for me getting to talk to an almost estranged aunt with a not-so-recently married daughter whose voice I've longed to hear for months on end. And no, I'm not going to translate that. If you don't speak Meiteilon, get a friend from Manipur to tell you what it means.

The aunt replied, in one breath, audibly excited, "Eh eebungo! Nang hingiboire. Asssh. Kuireda! Nang Phesbook leitro. Phesbook ta loi yaobani. Nanaobi maron thokemmi. Noi nache Langlen na bheedeeo ga loi nammaga Phesbook ta hapkramni." I'm not translating that either. (Come on. I'm not that bad. Don't worry. I've put footnotes for you.)

Then comes the fashion guru cum trend-setter at work. "Yo dude! You should totally check it out! It's all there. Priya's got the body. She's the bomb, man! Rocking party they had last Saturday. Let me give you that. Shame, you aren't on Facebook."

And now, here's my successful businessman friend - successful to a celestial degree. "We live in a global village now where reality as we know it exists within a web of digitally interlinked ideologies, philosophies and relationships. You call yourself an IT professional and yet you are not in the game. Which era do you actually live in? I'm sorry I've to ask you this. I don't get it. Why don't you have a Facebook account? You have zero online presence. Have you realized that? Think about it."

That, pretty much, sums it all up. The world has spoken. So, can I now say a few words of my own please?

I'm not going to say anything to the aunt for the moment. I'll wait till I go to Manipur someday so I can deliver my speech personally - preferably standing on a nicely made dais - after eating boiled pig ears and curried sliced cow tongue all washed down with a generous flow of sekmai machin. Rice beer from Mao or Maram will do very nicely too.

This one's for the cool dude from the office: Yo! Priya's cool, yo! Yo yo yo! Ya freakin' right yo! But, sir, have you ever sat down to think about the possibility of Priya not knowing you actually exist? To me, you seem to be living on Facebook only. (The next sentence, in Erik Von Daniken style.) Is it possible, you don't exist in Priya's world? Of course, we should be optimistic; according to Physics, dimensions could sometimes converge. No offence, yo! Peace!

And this one's for the highly intellectual professional cyber-guru who reeks of decayed concentrated techno-philosophical excreta: Oh thank you very much for telling me that. I'm sorry if my 'lifestyle' doesn't look wholesome enough to you. But what do you mean by "online presence". Do I look like an illegal Viagra dealer? If that's what you think, I declare perpetual war on you, your family, your clan, your tribe, your community, your country and even on your old sick buffalo struggling to chew its last ever cud somewhere in the middle of some nowhere-land. Actually, it's alright. The buffalo is OK. She's fine. But you, oh yes, I declare everlasting war on you, brother! I'll come creeping in the dead of the night like a ninja and finish you off. I'll come ramming through your door and roaring like a drunken Viking! Trust me, I'll cause a major stampede right where you live. I won't hesitate to organise a proper ethnic cleansing exercise if I have to. I hope you weren't calling me a Viagra peddler when you talked about "online presence". You better not call me that, brother! I love you. Oh by the way, I heard you're collaborating with a female extraterrestrial being from a binary star system in Alpha Mortuary via Facebook. Is that true? And I also heard you're waiting for the moment she'd send you a one trillion megapixel photo of her green space mammaries? Ah, looking at the way your business and personal relations have branched out even to uncharted areas of the Universe, I'm sure you've treated her to your special ningjoongcookchookpheng nanoparticle-fortified soup by now. And how's your boson-based armpit deodorant delivery algorithm coming up? It doesn't look like you've made much progress there. You smell of a potent mix of cat vomit, soiled socks and fish liver oil right now. You aren't trying to turn yourself into a biological weapon, are you? Could I ask you something please? I know you're a very busy person but when is your next bath scheduled? I'll do all I can to declare it a Galactic Holiday at least.

What we have read above probably makes me sound slightly like a Stone Age Ideology Evangelist but no, I am not making an attempt to undermine the importance of social media here as I know what it is and I kneel humbled by its awesome power. In fact, I like to call it an indispensable part of human evolution and it has, to a mind-boggling extent, transformed communication in its entirety by ushering in an era of virtualization, the benefits of which I cannot even begin to list here. It will be highly imprudent on my part if I say social media has done no good for humanity. I see businesses prospering, meaningful thoughts spreading across borders, humanitarian missions actually becoming fruitful and people sharing and critiquing each other's ideas all powered by it. This is simply undeniable. However, the flipside of that is what I have been gravely bothered by.

"Turns out she's not like how I thought she'd be." I hear this very often and each time I hear it, I shudder at the thought of a disease that is rapidly gaining epidemic proportions. Reality, for a growing number of people, is no longer attractive or even practical. We have stopped working on our real physical selves and every usable bit of energy and creativity has been channeled towards creating and maintaining an avatar that lives in a non-existent electronic world. In almost all cases, this avatar is not a reflection of the human being behind a user account. It is more precisely a scrambled block of data lost in a labyrinth of dirty streets somewhere in the middle of a digital ghetto where fantasy overrides reality. In this dream world, everything is beautiful; everything is achievable and you can be anyone or anything you want to be. You are free. You are shapeless and without form. Here, you are king. You are God. You can create and you can destroy - at will. But, the moment you open the front door of your real world house and step out, everything changes. The summer sun is actually hotter than what you imagined. The winter frost can bite off your toes and leave you maimed forever. People on the streets do not know you at all. They pass by you without even noticing you are there. You suddenly become a ghost. This, is the real world. In this world, physical interactions, real smiles and handshakes, real punches on the face and real kisses on the lips matter. Here, you have to pay attention to what you wear and how you smell. Your tone of voice says more than the words you speak. It sounds like a cruel place, I know, but welcome to the Real World. Please have a seat.

On Facebook, on my Wall or Fence or Hedge or whatever it is call, someone posts "Hey!!!! We should catch up right now. Long time no see!!! (Followed by two lines of exotic smileys and emoticons)" It immediately catches my attention and sure enough, I phone this friend and ask, "Hey! You're right. A beer is long overdue. So, catch up this evening? A respectable bar has just opened nearby. It's a good place." Now, I have more questions than answers. He says in a voice that does not reflect the supposedly excited language he used on my "Wall" at all - and the smileys just do not seem to be present anymore, "Oh. I'm actually feeding my daughter right now. The mom's not home, you see." I feel like asking, "Well, why the hell did you say we should catch up right now then, you blistering degenerate of an uncalibrated reproductive machine?" but instead I tone it down and say, "Oh ok. No worries at all. By the way, when's the next baby due?" to which he replies proudly, "In six months, she will be here on Earth! Can't wait anymore!" My guess is right; they're already making more babies - and they will definitely post several grainy, hazy, blurry mobile phone photographs of their hideous offspring very soon on Facebook.

Fifteen minutes after briefly talking to Mr. Universal Father and just as I am starting to question the Purpose of Life all over again, Rudy (name changed to protect privacy although he is not at all a rapist or a terrorist) calls me and screams amid blaring traffic somewhere in the city, "I just got out of the god damned exhibition. The photos looked good on matte paper. Beer? 'Yes' or 'no' answer please. I'm very thirsty." I say, "Yeah. Sure. Yes. Yes. But where?" He has already hung up. Three minutes later, he calls again and says, "Nameless Bar. Near your house." and disconnects again. As I am slipping on my jeans, the phone rings again. It is Rudy once more. He says, "Get there right now but do not start before I arrive. If you do, serious misfortune will befall on you." The phone call is over - again. I like individuals like Rudy. I think they understand life better. They understand humour. They reserve euphemism for use only in art and in matters of politics and law. Also, he does not display his work on a Facebook Wall. He does it on Exhibition Walls.

Have you ever been in an abusive relationship? You know you are suffering and you want to get out of it. You know you are doing yourself more harm than you can imagine but you are powerless. Something you do not understand has overwhelmed you. In the name of love and commitment, you feed the devil more and more hoping someday it will have been fed enough to set you free. But, the truth is, it is you who has to walk away and not the devil. Do not worry, it will not come after you. It is too fat and obese to chase you after you leave. That said, it will, however, continue haunting you with memories of its fearful face. Facebook - and social networking - does the same thing to us. No matter how much you feed it, it is just insatiable and it will keep asking you for more. It will make you feel sad if you have not updated your status in twenty four hours - even if you have done absolutely nothing worthwhile. You have no other choice than to fake happiness, success and achievement. You will hold yourself responsible for the death of your neighbour's grandmother if you did not 'like' the photo of some snake god posted by someone from Brazil. But, if you are Rudy, none of that will matter. You will step out the door and face the sun and the frost. You will make real friends in the neighbourhood and on the streets. You will realise the three-legged dog who lives in the junkyard nearby is a lot more personable and sincere than your digital avatar friends.

Not so long ago, I went to see a friend. I did not call them first. I simply went over and knocked at their door. This was how I was greeted: "What!! You're still alive. I thought something terrible had happened to you. No status updates. Nothing from you. You are not even on Facebook anymore."

I said, "Yes, you are right. I'm dead. This is Chingkhei's ghost standing here."

Now, I have become a dead man. And that is how Facebook changed me. It has changed my status from 'living' to 'dead'.

Rather elaborate notes for non-Meiteilon speaking readers:

Meiteilon: One of the languages spoken in Manipur. Also the official language of the state.

English translation of first Meiteilon section: Aunty, you're fine, aren't you? Eeche Langlen never answers my call. Nanaobi must've have really grown big now. Has she got teeth already?

Eeche: Elder sister. Meiteis don't have a word for cousin sister/brother. An older male cousin is an elder brother and an older female cousin is an elder sister. Younger ones are all eechal and eenao. Don't mistake this for a deficient vocabulary. We like to keep our relationships as close and simple as possible.

Nanaobi: A common pet name for children. Some of us decide to continue using it even after we enter adulthood because it's a sweet sounding word. It's Nanaobi and not Nairobi, ok?

English translation of second Meiteilon section: Son! Are you still alive? It's been so long. Don't you have Phesbook (Facebook)? It's all there on Phesbook (Facebook). Nanaobi can speak now. Your sister Langlen has even taken bheedeeo (videos) and uploaded on Phesbook (Facebook).

Phesbook: The /f/ sound doesn't exist in Meiteilon. To create the f sound, the jaw is held nearly closed. The upper backside of the bottom lip is pressed very lightly into the bottom of the top teeth. Air is pushed out the mouth between the top teeth and the upper backside of the bottom lip. ( Now, to get the authentic Meiteilon Phesbook sound, the /f/ is replaced by - this is difficult for me to explain - a sound produced by sticking the lips together tightly and blowing air out in an explosive manner. So, you get this explosive 'ph' sound followed by 'esbook' and that becomes Phesbook. Right. Just ask anyone from North East India to demonstrate it for you. We're all equally good at this.

Bheedeeo: This is a Meiteilon style of saying 'video'. There is no /v/ sound. There is only 'bhee'. This is again achieved by incorporating the explosion technique we discussed earlier. Apparently, we learned this from the Bengalis - fine people by the way. Visa is not visa; it's bheeja.

Sekmai machin: An absolutely nasty distilled alcoholic drink enjoyed in Manipur. It's highly inflammable. It burns with a bright blue flame and leaves no residue. Need I say more? NASA might want to source it to power their next generation rocket engines.

Mao-Maram: Place in North Manipur where I grew up. I'm part Mao-Maram part Meitei part everything really if you ask me.

* Chingkheinganba Thangjam wrote this article for
The writer can be contacted at chingkheinganba(dot)thangjam(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on July 30, 2014.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Kakching Garden :: 360 Panorama View
  • Folk Dance Festival #5 : Gallery
  • Kailam Sanctuary threaten to displace tribes
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Kuki-Zomi Insurgency in Manipur #3
  • Prof L Janmejay: Reminiscence as teacher
  • In The Annals of Time :: Poem
  • 128th Birth Anniversary of Ho Chi Minh
  • Challenges to Digital India initiatives
  • Pressing issues before the Govt
  • Aerial view from Chingmeirong : Gallery
  • Governor's Taekwondo Cup: Gallery
  • Entrepreneurship in the context of Manipur
  • Face scrubs to avoid dirt this summer
  • Ah, me - Now Happy, Now Sad :: Poem
  • Rio assures of co-existence with neighbours
  • Nandeshwore- President, Manipur, RJSP
  • 'PDA Govt is functioning smoothly'
  • SC voices displeasure at defence ministry
  • Manipur NPF differs with Shurho over BJP
  • Khangkhui Cave, Ukhrul #2: Gallery
  • Chhungthianhoih, Agui :: eMing
  • Identity crisis : @Somorendra Lecture
  • Reflection on Tour of Dubai & Abu Dhabi #2
  • Khangminashi - II : Report
  • Globalization & its impact on our culture
  • District Demand 2011-2018 :: Timeline
  • Dishonouring the Constitution of India
  • From EVM to floor test Onus on BJP
  • Curtain Raising- Sangai Fest 2017: Gallery
  • 4th MCA Plate Tournament : Gallery
  • International Nurses Week #1
  • Story of Silence : @Somorendra Lecture
  • Apiculture (bee-keeping) #2
  • Khangminashi - II : Invitation at Thoubal
  • IBSD-ILS Centre set up in Bhubaneswar
  • Of 3 Ws - Beware
  • Forming the Govt : Office of Governor
  • Lainingthou Lai Lam thopka #2 : Gallery
  • Manipur Fight League Season 1 : Gallery
  • Prison Diary of Lamyanba NK Sanajaoba #3
  • Rights of indigenous people & merger
  • Manipur's tryst for a native Chief Secretary
  • Marxji, Modiji & Birenji
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Reasoning without disparities
  • Regulate movement of auto rickshaws
  • Healing Touch: A case of still to outreach
  • Re-visiting Khangkhui caves in Ukhrul
  • Sandrembi Cheishra :: Book Review
  • Homecoming & Other Stories :: Review
  • Kuki-Zomi Insurgency in Manipur #2
  • Cry of a Dying River - 29 :: Poem
  • Shija Hospitals MOU for RBSK Nagaland
  • Are we waiting for the "Go-dot"
  • Understanding with KSO : Reaching to all
  • NNC observes 67th Naga plebiscite anniv
  • Event on martial art ends
  • Garlic Festival @ Ukhrul #3 : Gallery
  • Dr. Cesarczyk drizzled harmonics in the rain
  • Tlanglhungbung Leikol - Tourist destination
  • Manipulative skill pays in usurping power
  • Khonzel TV : New Manipuri Streaming TV
  • Naturopathy as career option
  • Free Eye Camp at Wangoo
  • Khongjom Day: OK to observe on Apr 23, but
  • Outside Manipur after Class XII
  • TRAU Vs Langsning FC : Gallery
  • Ngasepam Nalini : State Akademi Award
  • Construction of Ima Keithel
  • Dreaming :: Poem
  • Test for dengue fever
  • Home Coming & other Stories : Book [upd]
  • Eco Tourism as alternative to Timber Trade
  • Go to Village - boon .. but a scourge for PRI
  • Citizenship Bill ... on basis of religion!
  • Gardening @Ema Keithel #2: Gallery
  • Front Page Photo 2018 #2: Gallery
  • Course in Book Publishing at IGNTU, Kpi
  • Reflection on Tour of Dubai & Abu Dhabi #1
  • Gurudev :: Poem
  • Counseling to Delhi University Aspirants
  • Poumai Purul Hiimai Paoki #1 : Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Apiculture (bee-keeping) #1
  • Entrepreneur find ways to recycle plastic
  • Social impacts of Mapithel dam
  • Cyber crime defined: The Bhopal case
  • Timber banned but no ban on firewood
  • Traffic chaos : Regulate not ban entry !
  • Cheiraoba Thabal by LGBTQ #2 : Gallery
  • Culturals @Shirui Lily Fest : Gallery
  • Kuki-Zomi Insurgency in Manipur #1
  • Civil Service as a career option
  • The plight of education in Manipur
  • Appeal to Stop Oil Exploration
  • TechExpo at IIT Guwahati
  • Awaiting- a light at end of the tunnel
  • Wanted : Responses not reactions
  • Kabo Valley: A brief history
  • 'Autonomous Naga council'- a major hurdle
  • Cry of a Dying River - 28 :: Poem
  • Admission :: SAIRAM college at Patsoi
  • Khangminashi :: Lecture series at KKT
  • CASO conducted at Mantripukhri
  • PRI & the Mission- "Go to Village"
  • Final pact likely soon : Stand of CSOs
  • Pakhangba Cheng Hongba #2 : Gallery
  • Steelheart @ Shirock , Ukhrul #3 : Gallery
  • The Killing Fields - 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • A village "wall" a destruction for others
  • Thank you Mangaal Rural...
  • Lack of proper investigation- minor girl case
  • Nagaland Cong shelved plans to contest LS
  • Employment drive through Afforestation
  • Bid to attract the brightest
  • A. Halim Chowdhury: A Profile
  • Gardening @Ema Keithel #1: Gallery
  • Occupational hazards of journalists
  • Election: The greatest weapon of the people
  • Community Gardening in memory of Belinda
  • Politicians need a thorough headbanging
  • Beauty essentials for your holiday
  • NPF will not attend meeting..
  • A view on "Go to Village" Mission
  • Littering Shirui peak after Lily Fest
  • Polo ground & institute in Manipur
  • Khangkhui Cave, Ukhrul #1: Gallery
  • Dance competition @MANFETE #2 : Gallery
  • Bracing for monsoon madness
  • When I'm sick :: Poem
  • 1949: Story of India's Takover of Manipur
  • You can't defile a Judge like that
  • Legal provisions for misusing Social Media
  • Bill for non-local: Need to learn from 2015
  • Heart OPD Camp at Youth Club Brahmapur
  • Flood in Imphal [06 May ] : Gallery
  • Gudui Ngai @ Ragailong : Gallery
  • Ode to Inle (in Myanmar) #2
  • AFSPA Repeal from Meghalaya, Arunachal
  • Reclamation of eutrophicated water bodies
  • Hey smartphone! Free me from your spell
  • Job Positions at VITSOFTS, Canchipur
  • Lainingthou Lai Lam thopka #1 : Gallery
  • Phumdigi Tantha Dance Drama : Synopsis
  • Speaker List at Seminar on Atomic Energy
  • The making of village republics
  • The Sunset Blues :: Poem
  • Rio for development on eastern corridor
  • Welcomes decision on mini hornbills
  • Good show only from Imphal
  • 'ZB (AMN) President creating confusion'
  • Zeme Nagas aggrieved at 'non-inclusion'
  • Class XII Exam Toppers : Gallery
  • Prison Diary of Lamyanba NK Sanajaoba #1
  • Communal Harmony in a Multicultural ..
  • Community Gardening Event at Ema Keithel
  • Usurped Domain
  • Fruit stalls : Who gave them the license ?
  • 60 best social media practices
  • Pakhangba Cheng Hongba #1 : Gallery
  • Class XII Result : Science Toppers
  • Class XII Result : Arts Toppers
  • Class XII Result : Commerce Toppers
  • HSE Result 2018 : District Wise
  • HSE Result 2018 : Highest Marks
  • HSE Result 2018 : Science Stream
  • HSE Result 2018 : Arts Stream
  • HSE Result 2018 : Commerce Stream
  • Scholarship for Civil Aspirants : Gallery
  • The Streets Of Imphal
  • Civil Aspirants Scholarship Announcement
  • Vandalizing of fruit seller- protecting identity
  • Free Heart OPD Camp at Manipur University
  • Go to Village Mission: Another first for Govt
  • Khongjom Day - April 23 #2 : Gallery
  • 16 out of 18 clears IIT/JEE Mains
  • RIST Talk-36 : Enchanting Light of Firefly
  • Cry of a Dying River - 27 :: Poem
  • World Veterinary Day - 2018
  • Halt oil exploration work in Manipur
  • Snakebites and Uniformed Saviours
  • SRDP funds: NDPP calls for investigation
  • National PR Day at Guwahati
  • The only way towards salvation
  • Haudonggi Lamchat :: Funga Wari
  • Mukada: Eroding Festival of Kharam Tribe
  • Steelheart @ Shirock , Ukhrul #2 : Gallery
  • 'Go To Village mission' launched at Yaiskul
  • Quality assurance management as career
  • Test for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
  • UCM, MPP making clear their stand
  • Kh Sanjita & Saikhom Mirabai :: Gallery
  • May Calendar for Year 2018 :: Tools
  • How India Restrain NE Extremist Outfits
  • Liangmai disassociate from Zeliangrong #2
  • Climbing the Shirui Hills #1 : Gallery
  • NE Guide to Thailand : Gallery
  • Prof N Irabanta : Doyen of Aerobiology
  • Paintings @Imphal Art Camp : Gallery
  • Opening: Shirui Lily Festival : Gallery
  • Floral tributes to PLA members #3 : Gallery
  • Ode to Inle (in Myanmar) #1
  • Steelheart @ Shirock , Ukhrul #1 : Gallery
  • TRAU Vs Bengaluru FC #2 : Gallery
  • 'HUN' Thadou Cultural Festival #2 : Gallery
  • Khongjom Day - April 23 #1 : Gallery
  • Northeast Indian Guide to Thailand
  • Teinem Luira Phanit #2: Gallery
  • Naorem Kalimohon Singh : A Profile
  • Cheiraoba @ Kolkata : Gallery
  • Cheiraoba Chak Katpa [14 Apr] : Gallery
  • Md Awaysh Khan: Mr. India : Gallery
  • Mahesh Thounaojam #2 : eRang Photos
  • Mnipur Ima :: Seireng
  • Tributes to Khelen Thokchom : Gallery
  • Sanakhya Ebotombi Haorokcham: Biography
  • PM Narendra Modi @Imphal #2 : Gallery
  • Enakta Leiringei (Film) #2 :: eRang
  • Temples of Manipur : Gallery
  • Recipients of Akademi Awards for 2014
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic