My younger son Akhil works for Facebook for the last four years. All these years he has tried hard to make me sign up and use Facebook more. All these years I have struggled to understand why millions are doing something I am finding difficult to do.
Well, the understanding dawned on me yesterday. And the person who helped me see this was our driver Manoj. Here is what happened...
My driver comes to work for me from 9am to 7pm. He lives in Rajiv Nagar in Gurgaon in a one room place with his wife who does part time work in nearby houses. Their room is in a building which has several such rooms on the ground and first floor, all occupied by migrant workers from Bihar and
Bengal. They share a common bathroom; have a common place to wash their utensils and clothes. If they use an iron or a cooler in their room they pay extra for electricity. The rent is 1200 rupees per month. The road in front of the building is broken up, water logged during rains, and electricity comes for barely 6-7 hours a day. The area they live in has many such buildings.
I have offered for Manoj to move into our servants’ quarter with his wife. This is a room twice the size of his current room, free, with water electricity and other comforts round the clock.
Guess what, he declined and prefers to stay where he is. This is despite all the issues re basic amenities and having to pay a substantial portion of their earnings as rent. I spent an hour talking to him about this yesterday to understand why. There is one simple but powerful reason for which he is willing to trade off living in comparative comfort at our place...his need for a community. In his current place they live a community life, sharing their happiness and sorrows with similar other people, speak Bengali and eat similar food. They have the freedom to do what they want after they return from their daily jobs. Compared to that, at our place, they speak in Hindi, eat the food we eat, and live a relatively isolated life...meeting friends and relatives on holidays only.
Community living is what is driving Manoj’s decisions. These are driving decisions for many of our friends who have chosen to live in condominiums and give up their independent houses. This same need is driving millions of others to live in/on Facebook. Whether we do this in a real world or fulfill this need virtually...this is what matters most.
I finally get it...