Sunday, July 17, 2011

Facets of Facebook

   ‘Hey Rikoo (my nickname), did you receive the friend request I had sent you?’ asked my mother’s maternal uncle, whom I met a few days back after a decade or so. ‘We have seen all your photos, the place you are in is so beautiful’ told another couple of relatives, the same evening, whom I fail to remember when I had last seen. ‘Did you see the photos of my grandchild? She was born just last month’ Another question to which I mumbled a faint yes. And all the while these questions, these statements, kept churning a thought process.

        All right, on the exterior of it the above statements might not seem strange. But a closer look will bring out the theme, which clearly is where the ‘friend request’ was sent and where the ‘photos’ were viewed – facebook! You must be wondering what is so strange about it now! Yes it doesn’t seem strange to us anymore. Yes for millions of people across the world who have access to internet and are part of it, facebook has become a part of life, small or large. It is like the ring which was new once and after having worn for so long on the finger has become a part of you.

         Life never remained the same after ‘social networking’ took the world not by storm but slowly and steadily. Just like in the process of building aircrafts, after many failed attempts, smaller projects and boisterous ideas that bombed, social networking found its first jumbo jet flying high in the sky with flair – the facebook. The inroad it has made into our lives is remarkable. Whether it makes more and more people socially inclusive or fosters exclusivity in children, whether it benefits us or troubles us, whether we are attaching to more people electronically and detaching personally are just a few questions that are associated with the ascent of facebook.

        ‘The web is what you make if it’, the catch line in the Google advertisement is largely true, but how much are we enslaved by it rather than us controlling it needs to be pondered upon. With the delivery of a child captured and posted on FB (I am sure it doesn’t sound Greek now), the process of growing up is shared with friends and family. Of course is a nicety. Your heart fills with warm emotions seeing the child of your friend or relative living far away. Classroom discussions in school is now hovering around ‘hey are you on FB?’, ‘My mom told no FB till I am in high school’, ‘Ha, you know what my brother already opened an account for me’ and so on and so forth.

        Come to teenagers, now this is where we are talking about real issues regarding FB. As much as teenagers connect on FB, equally is stalking (though we in India barely understand the term and what it encompasses), meeting random people (sure is a benefit of FB people claim), unwarranted comments, and many such sour experiences fostered. Such is the merit of this question ‘How much of information to share?’ that it could well be another topic of discussion. The idea that what you do electronically is not directly harmful encourages people to push it to limits but that it might have repercussions otherwise is what needs to be understood.

       FB is truly a society. It is a matchmaker. Many people are getting married having ‘met’ on FB. FB provides fodder for gossip. ‘Hey did you see what footwear was she wearing in that photo’ ‘Which one?’ ‘The one in the album titled ‘Trip to US – Part 1’. No sooner that one leaves for somewhere photos starting from airport, aircraft, my bag, and zillions of such start steaming if not live, almost so, on your ‘notification’ pages. Your office work, its nuances are all on FB for the world to see, whether they like it or not. FB has provided a never before platform for showcasing your talent, your trips, your relatives, your skills, or let us call it showcasing your life.

         The other day my sister told me about her ‘friends’ on FB who happened to be non-friends in the classroom. Is it because of a horde for ‘Hey I have more people on my FB friend list than you’? Workplaces beginning from clinical laboratory to multinational software firms are swarming with people whose break from work every fifteen minutes is logging on to FB to check for ‘Recent Activity’. Harmless on the exterior again but what is it doing to our attention spans? Something lame like ‘I am brushing my teeth’, to something necessary like ‘ I support anti corruption’ to something potentially dangerous like’ I am going to kill so-and-so’, to something very concerning like ‘I am so depressed’ and anything and everything that you can think of is up as ‘status message’. Where should we draw the line between sharing information and becoming vulnerable?

        Various aspects of our lives are now up on facebook. Its infiltration into many lives is pretty complete. Increasing privacy settings are being incorporated to make it closer to a real social setting. FB has in the past few years changed things forever. Birth and death are reported as ‘posts’ today. This electronic entrenchment is where people express happiness and grief and share host of other emotions. Millions today live a second life on FB. The incorporation of Facebook has enriched many aspects of our lives today, precisely the reason for its acceptance, but the process will be meaningful and sustainable only when it is carried out with maturity, greater understanding and responsibility.


  1. Very well expressed thoughts about the impact of Fb...Always would love to hear what Sambit speaks.. Keep them coming :)

  2. FB came, it came well prepared to outcross Orkut and few others who were having some fun. Zuckerberg certainly added all those possible ingredients that would make the entire of FB more interesting and something that clicks with almost all the age group. Whether or not it will rule at the top in years to come, is secondary.

    More so, it is getting all of us connected at a time when we really need a medium that covers geographical limitations.

    (Will discuss the commercial advantages of FB some other day)


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