>The ‘F’ Word

>I mean Facebook, what were you thinking?

Anyway, ‘are you on Facebook?’ is not a question I’m going to ask. Because if you’re on this blog, most likely that you’re on Facebook too. So what I’m going to ask you instead is why you’re there.

(From the PostSecret blog)

For all of Facebook’s success, we are social networking rather purposelessly, I say. Of the 300-something people on my friend list on FB, I admit I do not remember anything about at least two dozen people from school except their faces. I admit that about 50 people on that list are people I’m in touch enough with in real life to make their presence on FB redundant for me. And I also admit that there are another 50-odd people out there who I couldn’t care less for. And then there may be those who put me in any one of the above categories. So who exactly am I networking with on FB?

Coming from someone who spends almost all of her working day on the internet (occupational hazard or perk?) and a lot of that time on FB, I’m assuming this is some sort of a pointer at how we’re on the FB bandwagon for almost no reason that seems worthwhile. Oh yes, I’ve gotten in touch with about a dozen people on FB whom I had lost track of after school and whom I’m really excited to reconnect with, but can those dozen faces justify the enormous popularity of Facebook?

It’s been a social revolution of sorts, I read, this coming of social networking sites and their immense popularity. And that Facebook’s status messages are iconic of this revolution. But where’s this revolution taking us – you and me, who’re hooked so hopelessly to this revolution without a direction? Where will I be after sharing with all of my friends my state of being in a status message? What will Farmville have changed about this world and what will peeping into people’s albums make us when the revolution is over? Because revolutions must end, surely they can’t go on forever!

And pray, tell me, what part do children have to play in this revolution? I mean, is it just me or is there something really wrong with children being on social networking sites? My nephew has joined a group called ‘I hate doing homework’ and takes quizzes like ‘What kind of a Kisser are you?’ on Facebook and he’s all of ten! What kind of a revolution is this that has precocious children to stand up for it?

Except for being a great marketing tool for companies and enterprises, I’m still trying to figure out why Facebook is such a revolutionary online tool. And come to think of it, the marketers came only after the massive numbers from all over the world were already there. So why did the massive numbers become addicted to a site to network when they didn’t need to network at all? Imagine, Facebook was actually invented as an intra-network site for Harvard students who could easily take a peek into each other’s room but preferred instead to peek into each other’s profiles! What does it say about human nature to you? Was Mark Zuckerberg just a lucky man or did he know something about human nature that we don’t?

The talk of Facebook becoming a paysite has been around for a while now but who’s going to pay for something that they may be hooked to without a reason? Unless of course, they are there for a reason. So let me go back to where I started: do you know why are you on Facebook, or any social networking site, and is it a good enough reason for you to pay to stay?

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33 responses »

  1. >Hi!I'd joined FB only 'cuz it was free. And have hardly been active on it. Currently, I might continue on it for cafe world and Mafia Wars!Actually, you've asked very pointed and pertinent questions. That I answer them with a defensively and a twinge of guilt is evidence enough that your (rhetorical questions) are very valid.As I said, personally I'm on FB not so much for networking (for which Orkut was enough), but only for those two games, and once my fixation with them ends (when I start finding them repetitive – hopefully, soon), I'll become very, very dormant there.I'm not a status message-person. My status message on Orkut hasn't changed in last 6 months!Another reason I'm on FB is so that I could get to know more fellow bloggers who could be dealing with my kind of issues.But then, my disorder is not as acute as others' you've pointed out (hope, I'm being objective enough in concluding this 😀 )!Honestly, deep down I feel what networking sites are doing to the next generation is very wrong. They are encouraging a very fundamental tendency of style over substance. What one 'seems' has become much more important that what one 'is'. But this is being reflected in lot many social spheres and not just online networking.This all in turn I feel is because, we have a lot more time and resources than in the past to expend (though we rarely concede it).And since daily subsistence has become a nonissue for urban dwellers (at least those who're on FB), we seek pleasure and fulfillment from fellow humans (rather than merely materialistic and personal resources like tasty food or good music – here, personal as in, another human being is not involved). Previously when resources were much scarce, struggle to hang on to life itself was the very purpose of living. But with disappearance of struggle, there is a vacuum created by this paucity of purpose. We want to escape the question – why am I living? So, we need a justification to live on. And that validation we've been seeking from "what others think of me". And of course, "what others think of me" can be answered only if they think of me! If I do not make them think of me, they will not think of me, and my life will become less significant than who they think of. So, let me set a new status message!A very crude and speculative 'explanation' – but the best I could manage. :)Nice post!

  2. >Timely post….Whether it is Blogging/Orkuting/Facebooking/Twittering …..They should act as a "means" to reach our "End" rather than allowing ourselves to act their "means" to reach their "End" called "Addiction" ….Over the years "means" and "ends" have been replaced mutually

  3. >D my colleagues and I were discussing this exact topic today morning :DI am not very active in any social networking site, I join only to update myself as to how the web-world is advancing, purely for experimentive purposes coz my job is Internet based… also to know quickly what's happening in everybody's lives…I don't update often but don't mind seeing others' updates 🙂

  4. >It's funny coz my flatmate and I were discussing this just last night! She's a year younger than me and deleted her account earlier in the year because she was addicted and not getting uni work done. I've been on FB since uni days and will admit that I spent a lot of time on it when I was still at uni — it's a great procrastination tool. However, since I started work, I probably visit it once or twice a week. I no longer play any of those games or quizzes. I think majoirty of us are definitely on it just because as human beings, we are constantly curious as to what's going on in other people's lives…people from our past…and guess what…they have created something for such voyeuristic pleasure. I'd happily delete my account if it became a paid feature. I don't need it. I guess I'm still on it because like most people, I'm interested in updates and what ppl are upto…

  5. >Children should not be on these sites…My 12 year old nephew and his friends have created groups on FB called "I hate XYZ"…I came across the group with his name on it and was worried, but his reasoning was that there's a 'hate' group for everybody – it's the 'in' thing and doesn't mean anything…He didn't know most of the kids who had joined the group…Needless to say, he promptly 'defriended' me!

  6. >@Nu: Yay! You're first!@Ketan: You're so right – this looking for approval for yourself from others sounds like a very good reason for the success of social networking sites like FB. And if it is certainly for this reason, then it's quite a pathetic reflection of human psyche.@Mahesh Kalal: But what exactly are these "means" and "ends"?@celestialrays: Strange how everyone thinks about the same thing at the same time!@Psych Babbler: You too? Well, there must be some telepathic rays that connect all human kind! Unfortunately, I am addicted. Fortunately, not addicted enough to pay for it!@Sraboney: I read this very interesting article about My Space pointing at how social networking is leading to bullying at a different level among school kids that affects their self-esteem. It's worrisome.

  7. >Yes D, it is worrisome but unfortunately, my sis and BIL have bought his excuse…He's a bit naughty so I'm sure some kids may be disliking him…If I were my sis, I would have spoken to his teacher…

  8. >Nice thought! I must say actually penned down thoughts of lot of FB users!I am there so that I get to know what my friends are doing! Primary intention was to stay connected and precisely it remains the same. I dont waste time on farm ville or any other stupid thing.But I have my concern for the coming generations! They oughtta spend more time on ground than on internet! Anyways, looks like we were lucky in that regards!

  9. >Nothing but just another free social website..!!Thats the one reason out of two for which i joined…THe second one is the curiosity to know why it was so hyped up..!!Your statistics made me check mine.. But then, i found out 80% of them i am in regular touch..!! Others come under inactive people on net and rest..!! :)So yeah, this free website is doing help also..!!Still, i wnt pay if they charge me..!! Its easier to migrate to the next social networking thingy out there..:)

  10. >oh i was justhinking that fb is becoming annoying… with bizarre status messages, and stuff… well, thats a de-addict's testimony.. though, very soon ill have to get twitter de-addicted…

  11. >@Sraboney: Oh well, parenting is not such an easy job!@Karan: You're right – we were lucky that we spend our growing up years doing something hopefully more useful in free time than wasting it on Facebook!@Vinz: I'm also in touch with a lot of people on my friend list but just because they're there, not so much because I need or want to be in touch with them.@Avaran: I envy people who've gotten bored of FB. I'm waiting for my turn!

  12. >I would certainly not pay for Facebook access. I much rather keep the email ids of people I would like to be in touch with. As for the actual attraction of FB – It is interesting, if you have nothing else to do.. Children on FB is a far more scary thing. The other day we were watching a documentary of a teenager who gets acid attacked by someone she 'met' on FB. It is very worrisome if children/younsters use it as a means to make friends..

  13. >I think FB is a great tool for a sense being able to get in touch with someone anytime you want to, when you are cities and countries apart,to be able to be a prat of a friend's life, through status messages, albums, mails etc, when I am unable to physically do it. We can send mails, and see albums on flickr, but fb just has a jazzier appeal, and puts everything in one place.Would I pay for it, possibly not, but for now I am happy with what fb is!

  14. >@Saima: When I know I'll tell you for sure!@wordsndreamz: This incident took place through my space, if I'm not wrong. And it is scary indeed because no one takes responsibility for what happens on the net!@Goofy: It definitely has its up-side but the point is how much time do we spend actually doing none of the things you mentioned while on FB. Also, who needs to log in every single day to stay in touch with people on your friend list? While I'm very active on FB, I can't say anyone following me on my profile would know the most important things about my life; those I still keep away from such public forums.

  15. >I don't understand spending hours on Facebook at all. For me it's a tool for staying in touch and I check it once a week.And kids' use of the internet should always be monitored. Facebook included – if at all. I feel children should be playing guitar and football, not farmville.

  16. >@IHM: I agree about the children bit.@Solili: You're a rarity then!@Manish: I guess I wasn't out of touch with my friends long enough to value being back in touch with them!

  17. >I was called a 'kid' (of course, in a lighter vein by a friend) recently when I told her that I wasn't on FB since I was already on Orkut. My idea for not being on FB was that I was already on another networking site and I am, in all possibilities, going to meet the same people on FB too. So what is the point of just being there just because everyone else is? Or because it is the 'in' thing these days? I'd rather email to stay in touch.Thats just my opinion though. But yeah, I always shock people by saying that I'm not on FB :-)The children bit really scared me!-SnS

  18. >I'm on FB to keep in touch with all my friends who are spread far and wide the globe…Another reason to let my friends know about my recent blog posts..I will have to think about payin to keep an FB account.. a lot of things would have to be taken into account on that decision..

  19. >well first….you can always get your nephew's account deleted cause FB don't allow kids less 13 to join in……so he is obviously faking it…..next…….i have been through that phase too…when i only logged in to FB for playing games on mindjolt…like bubble spinner and pool….don't try to search them there….they are very addictive..and don't want another person to fall in the trap….mindjolt has put in there…. .:))then facebook has been great help for me towards my blogging……i have met a lot of national and international blogger there and have them in my list so that i can talk to them…….there are blogger who have more than thousnds of visitors a day…..and it's always good to learn somethgn from them…..also getting a different vantage point on things…..one lady really surprised me there……when i told her that i'm from U.P., India….she told asked me ….isn't that the state were Phoolan Devi belongs too……?????and i was ….shocked…..so i don't really hate facebook….that much……:)\,,,/also you shld have posted your profile link…..we may have got together…..

  20. >Started only recently, became regular after I became a farmer, and then I gradualy got into networking.My problem with FB is with how to turn down a friend request. There's a fair amount of people asking to be friends, with whom I never had anything in common, and with whom I don't care to be friends either. But they are now my 'friends'!!!To be very honest, certain things I share on FB are for my real friends,and I don't want the whole world and their relatives privy to those things. But I find it difficult to be rude and leave them hanging, except for the ones that i know not-at-all.I certainly wouldn't pay to be on FB.Would fall back on good ol' gmail and blogs to stay connected.

  21. >I don't think I would pay to use FB at all. I think FB is a "phase" in our life. We usually pick it up during college.. and then continue with it.. with a frequency that grows lesser and lesser.. till we probably tire and delete our accounts.But to those who've just commented about it having some "End"… I disagree… its just something u would do for entertainment.. not to gain anything… right… or am I being too naive!

  22. >@Monika: Me too.@Soulmate: I think that's the view of a lot of people.@snippetsnscribbles: I was on Orkut too but deleted that account after I discovered FB. Found the privacy settings on the latter to be better and didn't think, like you said, that being on two networking sites made any sense. @Sonia: Oh, so you put blog updates on FB? Cool!@Hitesh: Oh well, this nephew is a cousin's son and I can't teach people parenting, can I? And I managed to de-addict myself from mindjolt games!Also, I like to keep my blogging life and real life some distance away. So I have no blogger friends on FB, except one – a geek who's almost 10 years younger to me and who was the first blogger whom I'd interacted with on my blog.@JLT: You know what I do with all those unnecessary people on my friend list? I put them on limited profile. So I haven't refused their friend request and haven't given them access to my photos and stuff.@Sunshine: Can't say about the college thing because when we were in college, hotmail was the 'in' thing! 🙂 But I agree with you about FB being just an entertainment thing and not so much a utility tool.

  23. >I am on FB, my cousins and sisters are all on it. My friends all over the world are on it.I am however, very practical. I have created lists of my friends and have given them restricted access,depending on who/what/where. I mean does my 50 yr chacha need to know whats going on my wall. Is it being smart or being rude?:)PS:About the blog roll, hmm did you add asaaan.com or asaaan.wordpress.com??

  24. >We as humans are always interested in what others are doing..and the social networking sites make the said task very easy. All you have to do is log in and see/read the happenings of everyone else's life. I admit being curious enough to click on pictures friends upload. So I guess that is the reason I am friends to half the people I meet every weekend. Social networking sites are easy ways to share pictures, make plans of meeting up, coordinating events.But I don't understand the fascination with games. Maybe because I don't play any on Facebook. The only thing the do is irritate me with all the farming or war updates that I keep getting from friends playing. And having said that being on two networking site Orkut and Facebook, I don’t understand why I need to be any other and add the same friends to my friends list. So I have drawn a line there and an toying with the idea of deleting the account on one or both of these networking site. The only reason I am still there is as Divz says because I work in the industry and need to know when anything new comes up in those sites.

  25. >I got in touch with old friends through faceboon and it kind of gives me my daily dose of gossip when I see status updates or photos put up. But definitely not worth paying up for!

  26. >i got on to AFB bandwagon i think after everyone and their pets had joined it. it has been nice reconnecting with some folks and get to know some interesting stuff when other folks become fans of something. found a few rocking concepts and websites that way.it is also an easy way to share my photos etc. but other than that no great shakes.i dont play farmville or thousand other villes that sprung up after that. i have even blocked the updates! i dont take any quizzes etc either because it means my data reaching random people.and kids and internet is a scary proposition. it starts too early these days and how does one decide how much is too much?! sigh!cheers!abha

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