Thursday, 8 October 2009

Are You Feeling Lonely?

Are You Feeling Lonely?

(This has been published in the October 2009 issue of Dignity Dialogue)

I was reading the article, “Perils and Pitfalls of Twilight Years” by Mayah Balse in the September 2009 issue of “Dignity Dialogue” and pained to learn those shocking stories of desertion and desolation of some of our unlucky elders. I understand a few state governments and NGOs have been trying their best to get some relief to such distressed seniors by persuading their sons and daughters to take care of their own parents. Good if they can do it. Still, a major factor facing the elders is the ‘lack of friends’ at this age of loneliness.

I was one of the luckiest to have many friends from almost entire India as I was fortunate to be posted in many major cities. As a result, I used to receive hundreds of greeting cards on my birthdays, new years, Diwalies etc. In fact, almost a thousand people attended my retirement party organized by my friends. The trend continued for that entire year. Then the number of greeting cards, the number of phone calls, all slowly dwindled and became almost nil during the last few years. I was almost certain that my days were over and left to muse over past glories in total loneliness. Then my daughter came to my rescue – she introduced me to one of the social networking sites on the internet.

Today, I have many good friends and interesting communities to interact with, receive and send birthday greetings, engage in intellectual dialogues with some fascinating personalities and NGOs, associate with some important social and cultural organizations. I could even establish touch with some of my school mates after about 40 years! Suddenly my life has become very eventful and I spend almost three to four hours every day in such activities. All from the comfort of my home! And without paying anything on posts, telephones and telegrams other than the charges for the internet.

Interesting? Please read on.

There are a thousand of such sites and the most interesting (in my view and experience) are ‘Orkut’, ‘Facebook’, ‘MySpace’, ‘Linkedin’ and “Twiiter’. In this article I will be writing about ‘Orkut’ with which I am somewhat more familiar and easy to operate.

Orkut is a free access social networking service owned and operated by Google. The service is designed to help users meet new friends and maintain existing relationships. This provides on line a meeting place where you can socialize and make new acquaintances who share your interest.

How to access ‘Orkut’?

You require an internet connection and your own personal E-mail ID, preferably of a Gmail account, and a password.

- Please open

- When the page opens, look for “Join Now” and click on it to open a new Orkut Account.

- A new page opens asking for information such as your ‘Full Name’, ‘Last Name’, ‘Your Current Email Address’, ‘Choose a Password’, ‘Re-enter Password’ etc. Fill up with all necessary details.

- Then continue with ‘Get Started With’, ‘Word Verification’ and ‘Agree with Terms of Service’.

- Another page opens to ‘Confirm’ certain details such as ‘Date of Birth’ etc which also helps in future verification.

- When you fill up with these details a new Orkut account is opened for you operate.

At this stage, or later, you can edit your profile with more information under the heads, ‘Social’, ‘Professional’ and ‘Personal’. This will help others to know you and your interest better. You can also publish your own photos, pictures and even video clips. You can import friends from your email accounts. You can also search for friends, school mates, and even join social and cultural communities. You can create your own communities too.

Now, you are ready with your own Orkut page. You can connect with friends and family using ‘Scraps’ (Notes) and instant messaging. You can discover new people through friends of friends and communities. You can share your ideas, pictures and passions all in one place.

You can even make me as your friend by accessing to my name ‘Aravind’ under ‘Individuals’ in “Communities”. I have also opened a new Community called “The Dignitarian” under “Cultures & Communities”. You can search for this under “Cultures & Communities” in “Communities” or find it listed as one of the communities in my orkut page. Please join the community of Dignitarians.

A word of caution:

No web site is totally safe, more so with these social network sites. First, there is no privacy and anybody can view your profile, your scraps, access to your friends, your communities and even misuse your pictures.

There are thousands of fake profiles which will try to interact with you, post abusive messages and even pictures. There are quite a few ‘Hate Groups’ which spread hatred against certain religious and political organizations., against certain leaders and celebrities. Remove them as and when you come across such messages.

Some countries have even banned Orkut. In India too there are a few hate groups which try to spread such hatred. In the year 2006, the Mumbai Police sought a ban on this Orkut. But, it was from one such postings, the Pune Police traced and cracked a rave party, The Cyber Police in India have entered into an agreement with Orkut to have a facility to locate and prosecute those abusing orkut since complaints were on the rise

But you need not be very alarmed. Take normal precautions and do not give information or post messages and pictures which are of very personal in nature. Orkut has now introduced a few features for the safety of your site. For example, now nobody can access to your scraps or photos without your permission. Utilise such features fully.

I am sure you will find yourself busy again with a lot of new friends and activities!

If you have any difficulty you can contact me through email


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