Friday, July 15, 2011

Voices: Column 3 in City Buzz, Bangalore

On Plotting Retirement from FB
Since no one is asking, let me tell you myself. I travelled to the Konkan coast last week, spending three-quarters of the day on a train, mesmerized yet again by the gorgeous Western Ghats (and glaring down at a lecherous old man, ugh!). Travel is what I often try to do and write about. This month’s column was decided then, until, riding back to a lovely mansion overlooking the Netravathi River, my parents and I had this conversation about the “youth of today.” Mom was telling me about this teen, daughter of some cousin’s husband’s niece (or some similar long winding relation) who had to be put in a convent in a small town because she was addicted to her iPod, her mobile phone and to Facebook and was neglecting her studies. Her thus rehabilitation was leaving her in tears every night and the adults shaking their heads at “kids!”
That happened. Then there was all that buzz about Google starting its +. I found myself telling someone, sounding agitated I presume, that when everyone began to take their pictures, their links and “partyyyyy” albums to Google + from Facebook, I would retire from the social networking scene. But when I was checking the latest inane status message from a ‘friend’ I last met 14 years ago, logging in from my phone for the eighth time that day, I wondered whether this retirement would happen sooner than later. I am going to make a case here, hear me out, will you?
I joined Orkut (kids, “in our days”, there used to be something called this) when Facebook was already up and running. Before long, everyone I knew was Face-booking and I told myself I couldn’t be bothered with walls and such like. That was until a classmate decided to get married and everyone else began to ask me whether I had seen and liked her pictures. So I joined, fully and whole heartedly blaming peer pressure.
The status now: I have 350+ friends on my list. No, nothing alarming, given the overwhelming numbers I see on other profiles. But the point is, I don’t have that many friends! I don’t even particularly like some of them. Often times I only accept a request because we have 23 mutual friends, not because I remember the face or the name. Well, you know all this. I can see you all nodding your heads.
I read a report recently about Facebook fatigue and how millions in the West have permanently gone off the site. But Zukerberg is not losing any money, or sleep over it because the best markets, even for the dying Orkut, are the developing countries, Brazil and India taking the lead. My retirement won’t worry anyone, except me. Here is why.
I will no longer read what someone had for breakfast or see a picture of the first mushroom salad with chopped lettuce they ever made. I will no longer be able to see the sequence pictures of my friend’s kid standing up and walking to the nearest door with a toy in his hand! I will no longer be able to ‘like’ anything! Or see updates of where my favourite celebrity is holidaying. Or join protests to rid this country of something they all like to call corruption. Or tell the world where I put my handbag when I get home! Nor be friends with people I didn’t even remember existed! Goodness! Do I realize what I shall be missing!?
LOL (another FB favourite)! Yes, I am dripping sarcasm. But you can’t blame me; the prospect of ripping myself away from my virtual home is messing with my good manners here.
After I checked what earth shattering non-thing hadn’t happened to the people on my list in the six hours that I was asleep, I remembered a line from Revolutionary Road, a movie I was watching last night. Leonardo Di Caprio, my first teenage crush and Kate Winslet, two very fine actors star in it. Leo’s character, somewhere, says, ‘I want to feel things, really feel them, you know? How’s that for an ambition?’ If that were to be my ambition as well, I think I would prefer not reading another line about how someone ate sushi for the first time and be forced to ‘like’ it. I would rather not know about it at all, to be brutally honest.
“Knowing what you’ve got, comma/ Knowing what you need, comma/ Knowing what you can do without, dash/ That’s inventory control”. Di Caprio speaks into a dictaphone late into the evening. Facebook I think I can do very well without. Or maybe that is nonchalance talking, knowing that the carefully constructed profile and the albums meticulously added and captioned are still there when I log in again.
Earlier this morning, I closed my LinkedIn account. I am sure none of my 61 connections will miss me, because most are also on my Facebook list. Will they miss me if I go off FB? I desperately hope so! In management, there is a group that marketing students are particularly told to target, the laggards, the late adopters of some new product or technology. I am, proudly, one such. But I will, I must try out Google+, I tell myself, and break the curse of letting things and movies and music that the world talks about pass me by when I am blinking and watching the sunset.
Meanwhile, if I am still on FB next month (you can never tell, with peer pressure and all that!!), I shall make a very strong case for why I, and you, should not delete the account!


D.Nambiar said...

Like, Like, Like.
(That's for the post)

On your leaving,unlike. Just why doesn't fb have a `dislike' option. We could have also use for those connections we are not so happy to have.

Bhargavi said...

Hey, loved the column. Very sensible.

Deepa Bhasthi said...

Thank you, my lovelies!

Div, I agree that FB should have a dislike button. There are so many things (and ppl!) I would use it for.

And as of now, I am still on FB!