I have had my reservations about social networking ever since I was introduced to it back in 2002. Over the years the reasons for my reservations changed ranging from information overload to social networking increasing instances of emotional infidelity but one reservation remained constant and it was that the social networking websites unfortunately put you in touch with many people you would rather forget especially those who quite made high school living hell for you.
A friend request on Facebook got me thinking this morning about this one reservation that I have had since I first began using the various social networking websites. This particular friend request was thankfully not from someone who tormented me in high school but rather from a person who had been tormented himself and even though there were many of us who tried to help him, his reaction was not civilized, to say the least.
This guy, let’s call him A had become my classmate in 8th grade and even though we studied in the same school for 3 years, we were in different sections and hence I was unaware about his existence. But within 2 weeks of being put in the same classroom I started hearing about the various nicknames A had earned and some of them though in vernacular could not be mentioned in polite conversation. One of my friends who sat next to him in class actually started feeling sorry for A, since he basically had no one to call his friend and my friend along with few others of us decided to befriend him to try and make life easier for him.
We tried by inviting him to our table during lunch, tried sharing our lunch boxes with him but to no avail. We decided to get him to play on our team during the games hour and even partner with him by turns during lab hours. But this guy just would not respond. In our naivety (honestly given his subsequent reaction I do not know what else to call it) we decided that he just could not trust anyone being nice to him and hence we kept up with our efforts. Over the course of 2 months that we tried befriending him, the best we knew in 8th grade, he simply would not respond. We were close to stepping up our efforts when his first reaction and his last reaction to our efforts left us dumbfounded and a friend badly hurt.
One monsoon afternoon we were all filing down the staircase to get into the school buses, a friend of mine offered A shelter under her umbrella to cross the massive playground into the bus. She asked him once. No response. She asked again even more softly to show her sincerity and dispel any fears A might have had that we were would make fun of him after gaining his trust, he turned around and kicked her. Yes, kicked her, for all the care, friendliness and civility my friend had shown this guy. He then proceeded to utter certain words which showed that he considered himself supreme simply because of his gender and words my friend would remember for many years to come with tears in her eyes.
Needless to say we gave up every effort we had made earlier and shunned him like everyone else did. For several days after the incident I tried to search for any hint repentance in his eyes for hurting someone who was only nice and polite to him when everyone around him made fun of him and taunted him. But no, he looked smug whenever he crossed paths with any of us or my friend looking almost as if he would start his discriminatory and violent rant all over again. The next year he was expelled for his transgressions and most of us soon forgot about him. I doubt if my friend did, who bore the brunt of his tirade but time as they say is the best healer and waits for none…
Until this morning when I looked back, not before shuddering at the comment A made on my profile picture, stating that I looked pretty and he wanted to befriend me only because of that and I should be glad he considered me worthy of being his ‘friend’. Without a second thought I ignored his friend request.