“Mishraji, are you really saying that your family doesn’t want to go ahead because of Anjali’s Facebook posts?” a disillusioned Anjali’s father asked. Silence on the other side deafening. His argument that Gaurav and Anjali have met each other, their horoscopes had matched and that they like each other made little sense to Mishraji, Gaurav’s dad. They had already made up their mind.
Welcome to the new world where your eligibility for an arranged match depends not only on your physical and moral chastity, but also on your online social chastity.
Social media stalking to judge would-be bahus is becoming more common with each passing day. Digital footprint is trumping horoscope, family status, career, income, et al. in judging whether “nayi bahu adjust karegi ya nahin”.
Nidhi, an IT consultant by day and a fashion blogger by night, shares her somber story. “When the boy’s family found out about my fashion blogging, their attitude changed overnight. I was no longer an educated, cultured, professional and a self-respecting girl. Suddenly, I had become this “high maintenance” type, recalls Nidhi.
Nidhi, Anjali and several other urban Indian women are fast getting labelled as “hip”, “activist type” and “loose”, essentially non-sanskari. But, these girls are in no mood to change. “I share what I feel. I support LGBT movements and I am against criminalization and oppression of the community. That DOES NOT make me a lesbian,” a disgruntled Ruchika retorts. She further adds that marriage or no marriage she will continue to have views on subjects close to her heart and won’t back down from airing them.
A more close look at the lives of Nidhi and Ruchika reveal that they are pretty much like everyone else. Leading normal lives, having graduated from good schools and colleges, working long hours, struggling to find personal time and complaining about weekends zipping by. What they post on social media is like 1% of their lives and not 99%. There is a saying – “There exists a place on earth where everyone is happy, all husbands loving, all wives beautiful and all kids cute. That place is Facebook.” These are merely mediums to share moments and opinions and most importantly to connect with friends. In reality, life isn’t “Instagram” pretty.
Mansi, a private detective, says, “It is usually girls who are judged by their tweets and FB posts. We are specifically told by families to scan prospective brides’ social media profiles while doing a pre-marital background check. Interestingly, in 90% cases, people turn out to be very different from what they appear on social media timelines. Online, people usually show a side very different from their real lives, so we discourage our clients from judging a person by their social media posts.”
Rohan, married to Sanjana, has an interesting anecdote to share. He met Sanjana, his then colleague, not co-located but in the same city, at an office party. Buffeted by beer and wine, they bonded over music, books and travel. Soon they started seeing each other. In no time, it was apparent to them that their relationship can culminate into a marriage and they shared about each other with their respective parents.
In spite of both being well educated, doing well professionally and from Marathi speaking Brahmin families, little did they know convincing parents would not be a walk in the park. Rohan’s parents, in particular, had taken a strong objection to Sanjana’s social media footprint. Pouts, beer in hand and halter-neck dresses painted a very different persona of Sanjana. “In reality, she is this nice, sweet and intelligent girl but my parents thought of her as everything she is NOT,” quips Rohan. But Rohan didn’t give in to their vagueness. It has been almost 2 years he has been married to Sanjana and the time spent is punctuated with loads of fun and togetherness. The funny thing is, while pointing to a family vacation picture on his Facebook account he says, is the irony of it all. It has his dad, mom, Sanjana and him all beery eyed and raising a toast.