Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Asocial Networking by Dhiraj Kumar- A Review

Admittedly, I am not a big reader of non fiction books, except for an occasional biography or political treatise. However, when I received a request to review a book which themed around the phenomenon of Social Networking, I immediately leapt at it. The reason was simple. I am old school at heart, and though at first I felt baffled by the pervasiveness of the phenomenon of social networking, I could not ignore the many bounties it brought into our lives. However much I tried otherwise, I could not stay away from its influence. Slow and forth, I figured out for myself that there are some changes, evolutionary ones, which man cannot resist or block.

Anyhow, still reeling under angst caused by those of my friends buried deep into the screens of their handsets with a juvenile fascination, and missing out on personalized birthday wishes from all those heartless, too-busy-to-be-true entities who preferred posting an impersonal message on my fb wall rather than simply (thoughtfully) calling me up, I agreed to read this book to secure a kind of vindication for myself. Vindicated, I was; though not in as charming a way as I had imagined.

The Asocial Networking is author Dhiraj Kumar's debut book. Mr. Kumar is an engineering graduate, who has written this book with an unmistakable but untamed passion. The book, more than being a treatise on the phenomenon of social networking, is a collection of 150 essays by the author which reflect his convictions and disenchantment regarding the virtual life. In essence, the book is a 'real versus virtual' debate. It criticizes, in an unabashed, scathing tone, the enslavement of human kind which social networking has brought about. With deep understanding and research on the matter, the author tries to convey to the reader the commercial propaganda which the collective humanity has fallen prey to, the kind which has made them give up a need for 'real' existence. However, this book has many failings, which at least left the keen learner in me dissatisfied.

My journey with this book was rocky. I have an erratic style of reading, which includes reading prologues and epilogues before the main body of the text. Thanks to that habit, I could go through a very endearing and humble 'disclaimer' by the author at the back. He points out that this book might not satisfy the need for an intellectual or informed read. Curiously enough, after arousing a decent degree of interest, the disclaimers by the author come eerily true.

While Mr. Kumar does good to begin with a very comprehensive description of the social networking phenomenon, his narrative, discontinuous and even incoherent at places, loses steam rather quick. I felt that the enthusiasm with which the author expresses his disapproval of networking websites comes out vibrantly and influentially in the first few essays. Why there is a need to drag the same thing, reiterated over and over again, to about 150 passages is beyond me to comprehend. The book criticizes, but fails to develop a balanced critique of the most pervasive of all forces our generation has been witness to.

The potential in the concept of the book was amazing. But rather than banking on mock generalizations, some case studies- negative and positive- would've aided a reader's imagination enormously. Very often I felt frustrated with the author's disdainful tone and even absurd conjectures about the the social behavior which emanates from a person's virtual life. An apt instance could be where, by understanding the psyche behind 'likes' and 'comments', the author develops a prognosis as to who might be 'true' friends for us in life. His categorization of bisexuals under 'perverts' who saunter into the virtual space at night was a disturbing opinion, especially for me, whose entire network claims to be nocturnal. Also, deeply unfair to the whole concept of the book was to make 'facebook' synonymous to 'social networking'. Less, negligible attention has been drawn towards other, related and unrelated websites, which might not be as big on membership as facebook, but which definitely would've aided to the understanding of the psychology behind online interactions, which is precisely what the author has intended to do. Strong, vocal, repetitive and insistent- that is how I might surmise Dhiraj's whole work. Uncompromising on his views might be another attribute I forgot to mention.

Besides being discontinuous, the flow also is hindered by some ill-placed, incomprehensible and plain absurd passages inserted at some places.. Frustration with numbers and amusement at common names were two articles which woke me up in the course of a sleepy narrative, not too pleasantly. However, for me, the greatest failing of this book, which perhaps forced me to abandon it much before it neared its end, was the sharp, one sided, severely unbalanced opinion it dictates. Almost no appreciation, even as a saving grace, appeared anywhere till what I read, of this omnipresent, insidious devil of social networking- if I am to go by the author's view. Despite proudly proclaiming myself as a girl who revels in little beauties the real, old-school world has to offer, I have myself witnessed many positive attributes of, say, facebook. And one of these positives I derive from Dhiraj's own narrative. He does mention about the equality with which we are treated on online social forums. This, I have seen to be a blessing for specially abled section of our population.

That aside, I will still laud the author for being able to give lucid words to his convictions and coming out in the open to express a sentiment that evidently goes against the popular tide. As much as is presented is well researched, but exaggerated. The language seems superb at first, but too much repetition kills it later. If I were to rate this book, it would be two on five stars- these two for the effort and understanding and few insights in the book which make you sit up and ruminate. Even if an exaggerated outburst, nothing of what Dhiraj writes falls beyond the realm of reality.


  1. Nice book which tells about the social networking i am happy to watch this thank you so much for sharing this blog...
    Buy Pinterest Followers

  2. Hi Saumya,

    Almost same rating I would have given but I gave only 1 as it stopped me from reading other books for a month.

    1. Yeah. I was glad I read it though, whatever length I could manage. You review books too?