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Leena looked upset.

“What happened dear girl? Someone stole your food?” I tried to cheer her up with a lame joke.

“You know I think my husband does not love me all that much,” she sighed sadly.

For all I knew, she and her husband seemed like a perfect couple for all the world to see. So I was vexed to know why she felt her husband did not love her all that much.

Before I could venture with another boring wisecrack, she continued: “He did not wish me on my birthday like other husbands do, you know,” she complained.

I was shocked. I knew him to be an absent-minded-professor kind of bloke, but never thought he would be the kind to forget the birthday of his wife! In fact, when I met him a few days back and asked him to drop in on the weekend, he had spoken about taking his wife out to dinner for her birthday.

When I reminded her about this, she replied: “Yes, we did go to a fancy restaurant in Downtown Dubai and he also gifted me a new dress for my birthday. ,” Leena said.

“Then?” I asked, now totally confused.

“But he forgot to wish me on his Facebook and Instagram page! In today’s day and age that’s as good as not wishing me,” she declared. “Whenever my friends have birthdays or anniversaries, their other halves and friends promptly post long, fancy greetings and messages on their social media pages to show the world how much they love, adore, admire them etc. They also post tonnes of pictures of their fancy dinner dates or celebrations to show the world how ‘wow’ their lives are.

“And here, in my case, my husband did not bother to post even a modest ‘Happy Birthday darling’ greeting on his social media account. What can be worse than that?”

When I reminded her that the poor guy had taken her out for dinner, she cut me off. “But then what’s the use? I was looking forward to my birthday so that he could also post a fancy lovey-dovey message on my timeline and the world would know that even we belonged to the ‘cool’ crowd out there.”

I left, shaking my head. Hardly had I escaped her clutches when I bumped into another young friend.

And she also seemed upset. I thought: ‘Oh no, not again.’

When I smiled at her, she gave me a curt look and shimmied away angrily. I did not understand. Was she upset with me, or was she upset with life in general? The next day, when I met a common friend, I broached the topic about how Neha had shimmied away in anger. “I do not know why she’s upset with me,” I confessed.

The common friend jogged his memory and within seconds a eureka-moment-like look lit up his face. “Did you, by any chance forget to wish her on her birthday last week?” he asked, fully convinced I had committed the crime despite him reminding me to wish her the day before. I had a smug look on my face when I replied: “I did not forget to wish her. In fact, when I called to wish her, she seemed extremely happy about it.”

“No, no I didn’t mean ‘that’ wish,” he continued. “Did you wish her on Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram?” he inquired.

“No. Why should I wish her on social media, when I wished her in person?” I replied.

“Man, which world are you living in?” he shot back. “Don’t you realise that in today’s age and time, a wish, greeting, feeling, gesture does not hold much weight unless it is put out there on social media for the world to see?”

I was left shaking my head – yet again. Indeed, which world was I now living in?

As we keep putting up one post after another on social media about that dinner at a fancy restaurant with ‘cool’ friends, or some daredevil stunt made for Instagram, it is as if the virtual world has become an extension of our alter ego.

A world where our dreary, boring, plain-jane lives are airbrushed and photoshopped to make us look ‘cool’ and garner ‘likes’ even though we may be anything but ‘cool’ or liked by none other than our pet dog in real life.