The Facebook Farce

Posted on April 6, 2010 in Specials

Ashwin Menon:

Social: (adj) living together or enjoying life in communities or organized groups
Eg:– “A human being is a social animal.”

Social networks — the rage of our days. From big shots like Orkut, Facebook and MySpace to tinier fish in the sea like hi5 and ibibo, social networks have taken our world by storm. Over 400 million people use Facebook actively worldwide and in 2010 alone, 4 billion tweets have been posted. With aims of increasing connectivity, it’s tough to argue that they aren’t the best thing invented since sliced bread.

“Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you.” Facebook once claimed, with it now reading “Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life”. Hi5 also mentions that it is “more social”. Even the old homepage of twitter read “stay connected”. With all these words emphasizing on closeness splashed across pages, social networking services seem a wonderful way to keep in touch with old friends, long-lost classmates and the way they make it seem, I wouldn’t be surprised if you expected to be lucky enough to discover a twin separated at birth! But, really, how far do they go in helping us – “stay connected”?

When I log onto my Facebook account these days, I am updated with what my friends are doing. So far, so good. I see familiar faces (with grimaces plastered all over) on profile photos — yes, these are my friends all right! I guess I am connected with my pals. Exactly what they said! Case closed?

Not really. Take a closer look at what’s written and you see that it’s mainly junk. XYZ played this game and scored 88423 points. ABC took the quiz “What planet are you?” (Shockingly, he was Neptune. I always thought he made a better Saturn!) Most “status updates” are just witty one-liners that either they, or someone else (retweet!), thought of. And more often than not, it’s the same people that keep turning up in my news feed. It’s like I’m super-pseudo-connected to a few people and as far as Facebook’s concerned, the rest don’t exist. Going through my “friends list”, I was surprised seeing quite a few strangers.

A common malaise these days is of people becoming Facebook addicts. Addicts not to staying connected, however, but being hooked onto the inane vast number of applications, the mindless quizzes, groups, pages and other mundane time wasters. This phenomenon has become so large that, impossible to ignore, Youtube has many music videos parodying the “Facebook addiction”.

It wasn’t always like this though, I remember in the early days of social networks I could actually keep in touch with people close to me. See where they’d been, their thoughts on relevant topics and actually communicate, without having to sift through all the quizzes and similar pointless items. It’s high time the clutter was cleared, not just on their side, but on ours too. I ignore all application requests — games are meant to be played offline! — and of the groups I am invited to, I only join the ones that are active. Pages, with quick one-liners about everything under the sun (from “I like to rest my head on the cold side of the pillow when I sleep” to “I try to get a task done before the microwave hits 00:00”) are just read, enjoyed and closed. I do want to remain connected, but it’s becoming increasingly hard to do so.