Have you been bitten by the FB Bug? Do you have the Ville Virus? I’ve had both and I survived.
Facebook was slow to take off. People signed up mostly to play Farmville. Boy did I sign up for that one! I ploughed, watered, harvested, shopped, helped my neighbours, built fences, repaired and god knows what with the precision of a navy seal. Confident in my abilities to keep track of my farm and with more contacts than the CIA to help me harvest, my days and nights were spent in utter Farmville Heaven.
Meanwhile the social connectivity options were growing by leaps and bounds. Facebook helped me find long lost friends, connect with fellow bloggers. Facebook made me clear my conscience once a day by helping spread knowledge about sick children and dead war heroes. My faith was unwavering as I feverishly tried to share divine messages in fear of being smitten by the wrath of God or trampled under a rampaging dinosaur. Some friends and family I met used to say “I’m not very interested in Facebook and all” and then they signed up let’s just leave it at that.
At one point of time, we realised that though there are billions of people using it for connecting, sharing, caring, playing and all that, it was quickly becoming an open forum for airing dirty laundry, hate wars, like begging, trolling and a mass of seemingly mundane and shallow things that people really don’t care about. Getting to updates that mattered from family and friends was suddenly next to impossible. Obstacle courses of FORWARD OR DIE, SHARE AND FIND TRUE LOVE, trolls and memes and all other kinds of trash stood in the way. Posts were pushed far back and at one point people just lost the damn will to do the drill. My friend’s adorable babies are sandwiched between a crude boob joke and a video of a guy being run over. Seriously, what were you thinking?
Blog posts from friends are pushed back by stories asking me to LIKE if I respect dead soldiers and COMMENT if I have a heart. Of course there are free psychotherapy sessions going on and a million other app updates on the side as well.
So I decided, it was time to do something about it. It was harder than spring cleaning. All the apps I didn’t use – blocked and updates deleted. Trollers are mindless ‘sharers’ – muted. My friends and family were put in proper groups. Double profiles were deleted. Many shocking discoveries were made too. For example, my husband Jose and I discovered the creepy IDs of someone that was being used under a false name just to make ‘friends’ and we shall leave it at that too. Argh!
Facebook is a wonderful medium. There is something for everyone. But too much of something just tends to go over the top. Even conversations between friends went from interesting to “Did you see that pic I shared on Facebook and his reply to that and no wonder she didn’t ‘like’ that and I think they are having problems and remember that video with the dog and the train”… I can see some of you saying, ok ‘Aamish woman, what are you getting at?’
We seem to have taken a social networking medium and made it the centre of our lives. Some of us can’t take a leak without posting it on Facebook. Others battle to see who has the most popular life. Breakups, fights, ragging, racism, depression, hate wars … it’s all there. And then there are the sensitive ones taking offence at harmless jokes and kicking and screaming bloody murder.
Unplugging from Facebook brought me back to blogging. Being Freshly Pressed motivated me to keep writing. Jose and I started picking up books to read that we had previously cast aside. Our discussions and debates have gone back to our widespread areas of interest. When we meet friends and family, there are many things to discuss because we were not a part of every minute of their lives. So we actually had stuff to talk about rather than the so out- of- fashion line ‘yeah I read your status on Facebook’.
We still visit social networking sites to wish people, check photographs and join interesting discussions. We post pictures of important occasions and things we wish to share. But a social networking profile is not what we are defined by. We don’t begin sentences with “I had shared this on my profile”
Absence of the frenzy of posting the smartest, wittiest and other superlative degrees of useless information is a welcome relief. Now I know what is meant by ‘social after self’. People around us have been wonderful in adapting to the change. At first they looked at us like we were weird and crazy with a sprinkle of Flintstone dust… But now, it is wonderful to visit people and go – “So what’s new?”
Unplugging from Facebook has made me realise the massive positive impact it has had on our lives. It has also made me thankful that we haven’t sunk into the quagmire that its unbridled usage may create.