Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Is Facebook a Parasite or a Virus?

Hi Folks,

Is Facebook a virus or a parasite? Based on the dictionary meaning of both the nouns ‘Virus’ and ‘Parasite’, I infer that it is more like a parasite than a virus. It has diffused through our minds via the Internet and derives its nutrition from our irresistible urge to know what is going on in the lives of our peers, friends and acquaintances.

Now you might be wondering why describe FB in medical terms all of a sudden. Call it the fascination with medicine and everything remotely to do with biology these days. It is because, of late quite a lot of action has been happening in my life with a direct link to FB. And then, I  am beginning to wonder whether I have become a FB addict of sorts or not. Let me restate some facts before I proceed further:
  • If Facebook were to be a country, it would be the third largest populous country in the world
  • According to an official study done by Facebook, 190 is the average number of friends each one of us has in it
  • People now spend more time on Facebook than the time they spend daily on personal hygiene!!

Given these facts, I now have a disclaimer to make. Unlike the past, when I made sure not to hurt any sentiments through my blogs, this time I am going to be blunt and straight. So it won’t be a surprise if you as a reader don’t agree with some or all of the points and statements that I am going to make. Read further at your own risk!!

It was only yesterday that I read ‘Mark Zuckerberg marries his long time girlfriend Chan’. My first reaction was – So what? Then today, it was reported that Facebook’s stock is down after the IPO. It actually failed to ‘outperform’ and even the underwriters JP Morgan & Morgan Stanley couldn’t do much despite dumping an additional 84 million shares later. Though it was bad news for the thousands of retail investors, it was sheer music to my ears. I share a love-hate relationship with Facebook, but of late I have started wondering whether I would get rid of the addiction to it or not. And so, I am beginning to wish and pray for a divine intervention that would stop FB on its tracks and stop it further from playing havoc with my life.

If a fifth grader would ask me what ‘Facebook’ is all about, I would tell him one or all of the following depending on his ability to understand what I am trying to say (That Facebook is a bad place to be in!!)
  • Facebook is a country where people (including yours truly) don’t mind their business and instead are interested in other’s lives!! (Pun Intended)
  • Facebook is a country where people speak only three words ‘Like’, ‘Comment’ and ‘Share’
  • Facebook is a place where a simple status message put up by a decent girl would attract infinite ‘Likes’ whereas the same is not applicable to a boy/guy
  • Facebook is an institute that can teach even an introvert the ‘art of flirting’ with girls/guys/gays (Read Section 377 of the Indian Constitution)
  • Facebook is an addiction

It is not as if I abhor FB completely. I love it for the following reasons
  • Facebook enables me to stay in touch with all those fellow Facebookers who have literally forgotten the fact they have something known in common parlance as a ‘Cellular Phone’
  • Facebook lets me dump my stupid thoughts and opinions through a feature known as a ‘Status Message’ (Otherwise, I would have definitely become a nervous wreck not knowing what to do with the useless thoughts my brain conjures up time and again!!)
  • Facebook is the source of all the minuscule traffic that I ever manage to get to my blog and is also a marketing medium where I plan to potentially bombard you readers with requests to read up my upcoming untitled imaginary book (God knows when it will be published!!)

But I hate it more for reasons that are countless. Given the spatial constraints and the need to not piss Mr Mark Zuckerberg off, I shall list only a few of them
  • Facebook is the only way my relatives constantly keep track of my activities. So I can’t use words like ‘Love’, ‘Engaged’, ‘Single’ and ‘Committed’. Using these words is a strict no-no for them and is a sign that I am turning to a spoilt brat!!
  • My niece’s are also in FB. Come on, they are still kids for god’s sake!!
  • FB increases the expectations that you have from your friends and peers. I am expected to hit ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ to every photo or status message uploaded/put up by dear friends/relatives even if I don’t like them
  • FB is also a place where my messages and comments are misconstrued and where I also sometimes end up misunderstanding other’s comments
  • I have to constantly filter out people from my friend’s list and put them in the ‘Custom’ category under the default privacy option
  • Wherever I go, FB follows (Geo tagging and tracking)
  • When I log in, FB almost inevitably shows me status messages from people I want to ignore or forget (Does Mark Zuckerberg hold a grudge on me?)
  • And what the hell!! Do I care about how many points X has scored over Y in a game Z? Naah!!
  • The ‘timeline’ feature initially seemed very sugary but now has become so bitter that I feel like having a little honey

And the list goes on. Is there a cure to Facebook addiction? I don’t think so. In my case, it has reached a critical mass (Read 650+ friends, half of whom I barely know!!). I desperately want to get rid of it but can’t understand how to. Can you help me? Of course, I know where there is a will there is a way out as well. But the addiction has reached to levels where I now have a widget of it on my android phone. So I urge you readers to suggest some practical solutions so that I get de-addicted without having to delete my account for good.  

One of my colleagues doesn’t have a Facebook account. In fact, he doesn’t have any account in any social networking site at all. I was initially shocked. But later I realised that probably it was one of the best decisions he had made in life – Not to have any presence in the virtual world. This blog post is dedicated to him; a guy I want to be like, content and very happy like the people from Bhutan!! J

signing off,