Tuesday, January 13, 2009

To Facebook or not to Facebook?

A few days back, one of my friends here who hasn't been using any kind of social networking website asked me if he should join Facebook. I was surprised to realize that I had no encouraging words for him. A few years back I used to be logged on to Orkut for almost all the time that I spent awake. Although all my friends lived within a radius of a healthy twenty minute walk around my place, we still talked to each other on Orkut more than in person. Now that I am five thousand miles away, strangely enough I have developed a strong aversion to all these groups. 
If any of the seasoned Facebookies happens to see my profile they will immediately conclude that I have no life. :)
When you are a serious Facebookie, you update everyone else about everything going on in your life. People who are "single" on Facebook update everyone about their new partners as soon as they get them and you can also see a tag that leads you to their new girlfriend/boyfriend when you click on it! Then there is a deluge of new pictures on their profile and the spectators of this blossoming relationship applaud by posting encouraging comments. Needless to say that all of this gives the fellow Facebookies a lot to talk about. 
I used to get emails from Facebook asking me whether I knew any gossip about my Facebook buddies that I would like to share! I was happy and sad at the same time for such an open and innocent legalization of gossip in the virtual world. 
Sometimes though these status updates really crack me up. Just the way you get updates about people getting together, you also get an update when they end their relationships! It is a funny picture imagining someone returning home from their break-up fight (or break-up discussion for "mature" users) and logging in to Facebook to declare it! 

The same goes with pictures. You have to have a lot of pictures on your profile to make people believe that you "have a life". So everywhere they go, serious Facebookies are looking for material for their online albums. The brand new world of digital cameras just makes it a lot easier. I have seen so many retakes for the "perfect Facebook picture" that I am sure their cheeks hurt from smiling the perfect fake smile. 
My friends nag me all the time about pictures. I am the kind of person who absolutely hates being a tourist with a camera hanging around her neck! I had a long stop over in Singapore on my way back from India. I was thinking of getting a room for myself and sleeping it off on the airport. However, severe parental and peer pressure made me go for this bus ride around the city. When I was in two minds about it I was reminded of how fortunate I am that I get to see so many places at such a young age. It was also laced with a little anger at God for giving such a destiny to someone who is so wrong for it! So just to pacify them I took this three hour trip around Singapore. 
The moment I got on the bus, I dozed off. I woke up an hour later when our guide had finished explaining almost all the important things on the bus. We went for a walk around a river that looked exactly like the one in Brisbane and everything in the city was as colonial as London,  south Mumbai or Melbourne. So when I was talking to one of my friends later, he was really upset when I said," Oh! Come on. It is all the same. I really enjoyed my nap in the bus though". I don't know why but the holidays and places that I have really enjoyed have always been unplanned and sometimes, in the haste and hurry of making a picture, we forget to make the mental images that last all life long!

Another thing that really annoys me about Facebook is the "photo-tagging". For non-Facebookers (or losers)  it is a way of posting the picture on every profile in its content. So if you happen to go for a party where you are photographed ,without your knowledge, enjoying a solitary moment of nose-picking, the moment your host has finished doing dishes it will be up on Facebook and everybody can see it!
Or when you lie to someone that you cannot go to their party because you are planning to finish your paper (only someone who is not doing a PhD can believe that) and are seen turning into a vodka-rocket the next day at someone else's party ..right on Facebook! 
Some girls also have the "Miss Photogenic" disorder. They would take a lot of pictures with you and only tag you in the ones that you look your ugliest (and they look their prettiest). I have heard that these days girls prefer making best friends with other girls who are uglier than them so that they can have a "relative beauty contest" on Facebook. 
These are just the highlights that really annoy me. Amongst other things are the "gift" applications. Where you send each other trees that grow with time..virtually. Also sometimes you get roped into these automatic "evaluate your friends" applications that make you compare everyone on your list with each other! 
It is a vicious circle. Now that I am on Facebook, I use it to minimum. Only to stay in touch with my best friends who are now scattered all over the world. 
But if someone comes to me asking if he/she should join Facebook, I would ask them to turn around and kick them out of the door and say, "Go play outside!!"


शिरीष said...

HI Sai! I hope you have noticed me commenting on your Monday Moksha and The M Word!

This I liked very much and remembered a lesson from my school book" On not answering the telephone" where the author had described the disadvantages of the then modern gadgets telephone and typewriter.
I fully subscribe with your views on todays SOCIAL NETWORKING.

Raj said...

Very true. Infact on orkut now i have some "friends" and I have no idea how we know each other. :-)
reminds me of a clip from Seinfeld. This was about the phone machine, just replace it with it orkut, facebook whatever.

Saee said...

@ baba..
yeah I read all your comments. :)
@ Raj..
Really funny. I agree. Some people really thrive on being popular. I guess doing a PhD clears all such ideas of fame and fortune from your head. :)
Maybe that is why this welcome change in my thinking!

Pipa said...

I am in Singapore now -- really loved a trip to Cambodia though.

There tourism is far less-developed and therefore less predictable.

*Shall* said...

Isn't it amazin how ppl put every minute of their lives on facebook. From pictures to status messages...thou i too am hooked to status updates but i hope i never fall in tht per minute changers! Its like we are now living online. oh dear, I am online and i do have a fcbk page on too. :D

Saee said...

@ Shall
True. :)
We should really get over facebook and meet in person. Do you want to come around for a beeah? :D

RJ said...

I would suggest stick to online than meet for a "beeah mate"...LOL...I have fallen off the wagon a bit with the Social Networking sites...Facebook by far is the best yet...a bit intrusive at times...but hey...you have the choice to put yourself out there. I think like we had comic characters and fictional beings...our Gen Z (Z is it now ?) will have more and more "online characters...personas and entities and identities"..Hell we both have one each :) You are the Purple moon and I am the Virtual Panopticon...we have a novel mode of communication...exchange...and "mate-ship"...What say ? Online beeah ?...Much healthier hey ?