(Non Fiction INR 195/-)
“Once upon a time human beings lived offline, then networking came along and nobody lived happily thereafter…”
We figure. It takes but a few pages for the book to live up to its name. And how! Dhiraj Kumar’s latest offering runs around with a dagger at all things Social-Networking and at the slightest provocation, makes for the kill. Written all through with what seems like a viewpoint severely jilted at the altar, everything (well, almost) about this 320-pager screams “asocial”.
Kumar structures the book into 150 short articles, with headings that range from “I feel cheated” to “I wish to keep a pet monkey”. What gives? Well, it kick-starts with a thorough introduction to the world of social media, with Facebook as the frontrunner. With crisp little write-ups, he takes us through Likes, Comments, what it means to have a close-up profile picture, how to write a “successful” wall update…you get the idea. For the uninitiated, this can be a fair treat. Also, Kumar has a simple style of expression which makes the text easy to follow.
However, what soon transpires is another story. His “musings” start ranging from the far-fetched to the plain absurd. Sample one: Facebook comes up with a rating agency for people (the FIPRA), which will have employees stalking you and clicking pictures of a street fight you had this morning. Humorous? Not really. Especially not so when pages after pages describe “personality” theories and also come to conclusions based on flimsy premises. You learn to identify a pervert, for instance. Even a true friend. Doesn’t get better. It can be argued that several hold similar opinions, especially about the fairer sex and how they, or rather the cute pictures they put up, enjoy dominance in the web-sphere. But when all that is put on paper with a queer presumptuousness, it comes across as an unpleasant generalization of sorts.
There are bits in the book which add to the incongruity. As is, the text often goes back and forth while talking about different features of Facebook. In fact, some of the pieces seem so repetitive (and tiny) that you wonder if 150 was some magic-destination number. But these bits (“The wonderful world of Siddharth”, for example) seem utterly misplaced. To his credit, Kumar ensures he leaves no allied subject untouched. So we have pieces on the education system, advancements in technology, the works.
You wish the book had a wider girth, literally. Even the plusses of Social Networking (branding, marketing, connecting) are written off the slate with a flourish. It seems very personal, the book does. Almost the kind of writing which started off being satirical and then lost itself in the alleyways of the writer’s own apprehensions and steadfast opinions.
If you so desire, pick this one up as a primer on Social Networking. You will be neatly walked through the beginnings, the present and even to the envisaged future which is touted to be one where the ‘fad’ dies out. Or, if you wish to keep it simple, you may choose to focus on the juicier bits and practise “exclusivity” in reading as elaborated below.
“Stars like Ritesh Deshmukh or Tushar Kapoor may have something to say on almost every topic. But Aamir Khan and Ajay Devgan keep to themselves…”
The author, Dhiraj Kumar, had sent along a review copy. There is a lot more about “The Asocial Networking” here. I wish Mr. Kumar the very best for all his future endeavours!