Social media has become an important part of our lifestyle. And I am not here to say it is bad. Facebook has been here for a while and we all have grown with it. The way we see it has changed over time. Below are some of the phases which most of them go through, including me.
1. The first contact
Facebook is just blue and white, I thought. I can change themes in Orkut. I could relate to Orkut more because, like me, it was juvenile. You had to think twice before visiting someone’s profile in Orkut. Then a friend of mine told me that in Facebook it doesn’t matter. You had my curiosity, now you have my attention. There were much refined privacy settings. Most of my friends switched to Facebook. I too followed the suit. And I was not disappointed. Uploaded a celebrity’s photo as my profile picture because, you know, flowers, landscapes and babies were not my thing. I then found myself in a world of mangled and dissected names. And the baby faces too didn’t help me in finding who sent me that friend request. But nevertheless, Facebook had arrived.
2. If it’s not on Facebook, it never happened!
There was a time when I would come back from college, open two tabs in my browser – one for Google, another for Facebook. You scroll through your news feed till the point you reach the last seen post. Existence of any unread post creates anxiety. You pounce upon every notification/friend request with wide eyes and gleeful smile. Every conversation in real life for sure consists of the phrase- “Oh yes, I saw it on Facebook”
You go out with friends because you haven’t posted in Facebook for a long time. You are always in search of that perfect profile picture. The one with out of focus background will give you hundred likes for sure. A pic with your dog or baby is preferable because you want the world to know you are sensitive. And that trek you went- you didn’t ask if anybody had a compass or pocket knife, but you made sure somebody had a camera. Your college suddenly becomes interesting because somebody created a confession page. And of course there is that time when your feed is filled with white and black colours; thanks to graduation pics.
Then out of the blue somebody gets engaged. Or directly posts a picture of their marriage. You are happy for them but somehow the feeling is not as strong as expected. Maybe that’s what you call ‘growing up’. And then there are honeymoon pics in Thailand or Malaysia. Yes, I know you were on a budget. After that it’s usually silence, no posts for a long time.
A guy/girl who was virtually non-existent suddenly becomes interesting. Then there are few who were popular, but now they are just creeps who post pictures from shady bars. Normally you don’t watch critically acclaimed movies, but when you do, you make sure you post it on Facebook. The guy/girl who had never changed his/her profile pic for years, suddenly uploads a stunning photo and everyone goes crazy. And how can I forget those newsreaders who give updates on every wicket or goal. Thank you, great work. Maybe I’ll do a thank you video for you guys.
And one fine day, you are just browsing through your feed and you notice your crush is online. The rush of adrenaline when you type something and press enter is priceless. On the other side, she is thinking – “Oh God, this guy! I should not make myself visible to him ever again.”
3. The Withdrawal
By this time you have read way too many articles about how Facebook affects you. You start to see it now. You have always complained that you don’t get time and now you know why. You start to feel an aversion to all the news feed posts. Every post about feeling low or happy irks you. Every notification from candy crush infuriates you. Your friends are going on vacations, taking selfies in front of Eiffel tower. People are posting 25 places to visit before you die. If they will please fund me I would definitely go. Then there nerdy status updates which you can’t understand. You are fed up. It’s time to move on.
You have not logged in for weeks now. And you brag to all your friends how you are so over Facebook. How you have plenty of free time. You are at your productive best. Your life is uncluttered. You give importance to real life interactions. You are living the life you have always dreamt of.
But soon you will realize that if not Facebook, you will find something else to waste your time. Youtube suddenly becomes interesting. You involve in Whatsapp group conversations which you had always avoided before. You binge watch already watched TV series. Forgetting birthdays becomes a habit.
I read this article sometime back: Back online after a year without internet. It is about a guy who decided to go offline for a year. I mean not just from Facebook, but from the whole internet. He describes how great the first few months were. But later on he missed the internet. It is a good read, go check it out.
Bottomline is – It is wrong to put the blame on Facebook or internet for anything. It’s not Facebook, it’s you. Your online world, just like the physical universe, can and will get boring, depressing and have ‘cringe-worthy’ moments. It’s all part of the package. But we got to hold on to those good moments.
I understand that you had a good laugh seeing that cat video and you just wanted your friends to see it. It’s okay. And the skydiving pic you posted…Awesome! I won’t take away your freedom of self-expression by objecting your duck faced selfie. I accept the true you. Celebrating your uniqueness is important. So do your thing. But it is left for me to decide how that will affect me.