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Oops. I pressed the wrong key!

May 29, 2003 12:11 IST
Online communication is easy and quick. But it can also cause a lot of embarrassment

You can converse with your friends online and kiss your girlfriend virtually even if she is a continent away. Thanks to the ease and speed of technology, people are interacting online all the time. And where there is interaction, there are feelings and emotions. Not surprisingly, at some point or the other, most surfers have experienced emotions online - joy, irritation, disgust, and even embarrassment.

Ask first time Internet users who feel lost online. I distinctly remember being in a Rediff chat room three years ago, trying to understand chat lingo. I knew what 'a/s/l' stood for (age/sex/location), but beyond that, I was lost.

I constantly asked the meaning of BTW, BRB, GNSD and scores of other acronyms. The smiley was a stranger to me too. My fellow chatters found it hard to believe my ignorance, and some made jokes at my expense. I felt quite foolish, and was quite embarassed in the virtual company of experienced users.

Deepan B from Delhi had a similar 'beginner' experience. In his first few days on chat, someone asked him for his a/s/l. Thinking that he was being abused, "I told the girl exactly what I thought of her! Later she told me what she meant and I was apologetic and thoroughly embarassed," relates Deepan.

Most embarrassing moments arise purely out of human errors. 23-year-old Serena, a journalism student, once sent her online friend her picture via instant messenger. Her friend was horrified to see the image. On closer inspection, Serena discovered that she had sent her friend a soft porn picture someone else had passed on to her. Needless to say, Serena was extremely red-faced after the incident.

Ruchita Sharma, a law student, once made the mistake of indulging in an intimate conversation in a public chat room, under the impression it was a private one. She did not notice when another chatter entered the room and witnessed it all. When she realised someone was intruding, she immediately logged off. And Ruchita, of course, never went back to that chatroom!

Revealing all in a personal diary or journal online can also land a person in difficult circumstances. Especially, if your colleagues or friends happen to chance upon something you wrote about them! Shuchita, a software engineer from Pune, blogs regularly and often rants about people with whom she is not on good terms. She once bad-mouthed a few office colleagues and a couple of them found out about it. "I spent a few days pacifying them and now anytime I want to crib about them I do so in code!" she says.

For some surfers, an online misunderstanding can result in a classic egg-in-the-face scenario in the real world.

Sahil G, a programmer, was once the moderator of an online group. Another group member with a feminine-sounding ID added him as a friend on instant messenger. Sahil naturally assumed it was a woman.

When the group decided to meet, Sahil was expectant. "When we were waiting for members to arrive, a gentleman, probably in his late forties, walked towards us and introduced himself as Anil, a group member. When the handshakes were going on, he casually mentioned his ID, which was the feminine one! All I could say was, 'Errr... ahem!' I didn't blush, but I did feel a bit embarassed," narrates the young man.

Akash S, a 22-year-old engineering student once chatted with a girl for half an hour online and they decided to meet in a nearby college campus. For identification, he would be holding a yellow rose, and the girl would be in a blue shirt.

When he reached the campus, he was disappointed to see that many girls were dressed in blue. In spite of the rose, no one approached him. It was only a little later he realised the girl had played a prank on him, and for a long time after that, he was the butt of his friends' jokes!

(Some names changed to save those involved from further embarrassment!)

Do you have a similar experience to share?


Rohini Kapur