Monday, June 6, 2011

Are you on Facebook?

I met a talented young lady recently. Maybe my age or a year or two younger.

She was related to a friend of mine who was getting married. We met at the marriage hall and got along well. Three days of knowing each other. One evening of continuous chatter. She held a place for me in the crowded marriage hall. I kept a watch on her children. She got me food. I got her water. All in all a very healthy fun time we had with each other.

When it was the time to part, we exchanged phone numbers and addresses.
And then I asked a question which for me seemed innocent but it changed the whole equation between us.

"Are you on Facebook?" I asked.

She looked at me with the corner of her eyes, had a half smile (I haven't been able to decipher it yet) and said, "No Facebook for me, only the phonebook".

It was a nice way of putting it. I liked it.
I smiled at her.

She looked at me with her face still bent at an angle which gave her right eyebrow a natural lift.  Half smile again and a quick turn about.

I stood there like Shah Rukh Khan waiting for Kajol to turn around. I wondered where I went wrong. Was it too soon to mention Facebook? I thought we had become friends in those three days. What made her suddenly pull back the moment I mentioned Facebook? Why was the toothy grin replaced by half a smile?

Finally she turned around as she reached her car across the road. So did the children. A quick 'bye' followed. But by then my Shah Rukh moment was gone. I was no longer wishing 'palat'. I waved and walked back.

I wanted to figure out where did I go wrong. Especially because I am not someone who adds people just to increase the 'friends capital' for numbers sake.

This is what I found about why some people hate Facebook :)

The first reaction is 'It is a waste of time' - True it is. Won't deny that. But just as you spend as per you earn, you facebook as per the free time available to you. Being on Fb by no means implies that you have nothing better to do in life. Some of my friends have very hectic jobs, yet they are active on social networks.

Most people feel 'On Facebook = Privacy Invaded/No Copyright protection' - You post only what you want to share. If it is good it will get downloaded, if bad then it will be surely ignored. For everything else there are emails, snail mails, telephones and personal meetings.

If you send in a friend's request, you are endangering you reputation by coming across as needy - True many people judge you not just as a person but also as per your social standing, before accepting it. Let's not forget, most of these are already your friends in real life who just want an easier way to keep in touch. Nothing more, nothing less.

Was a pleasure meeting you, not really - This is the most common one. As long as it is just a limited amount of time, some people are very comfortable with strangers, colleagues, relatives or long lost friends. They have a great time together. But when it comes to a long drawn thread which keeps the communication in radar for as long as ever, they are not so interested. Very rightly so. They are well within their rights to do so.

I will not be able to 'ignore' a request if a person I don't like sends me one - You can certainly ignore. Or you can let the person know how you feel by sending in a message.

I am more of a real world person, virtual world is not for me - These people stress on the importance of face to face meet ups or telephonic interactions over liking or poking in the virtual world. They are right. Virtual networking does undermine body language, social skills, physiological body changes etc. Dr. Aric Sigman says,"In less than two decades, the number of people saying there is no-one with whom they discuss important matters nearly tripled." But aren't a few 'likes' once in a while better than not speaking for months at all? It's a call you got to take.

Social networking is impersonal - Some feel, it is all information and no action. Unless you act upon it, it is going to be impersonal. The causes, events, book launches provide you the participation opportunities. If you get up and go, it could turn out to be a crusade or a wonderful reunion else it is just another web page wasted.

Status Updates are for pseudo philosophers - One tends to act like a saint at times but that comes from a recent experience or the belief one so strongly supports. It does enhance you elated sense of self when you are feeling good and share it with others or when you are down and people drop in for a hug just because they read your update.

Someone has a hawk eye on anything I post - The fear that every single one of your networking activities is being watched over by data collecting or intelligence agencies and crazy psychopaths can't be ruled out. Bosses, companies and law enforcement bureaus can take your honest innocent confessions and outbursts as evidence against you. For eg. MySpace postings ("I'm not an alcoholic, I'm a drunkaholic") are part of the prosecution's case in court. I will not argue here. You have got to be vigilant and careful against inappropriate content that might harm you.

Once out there, the data never dies - If you make a mistake by writing or posting in an emotional fit, some feel that even if they delete it, the data is somewhere out there in the webworld which can be fished out by smart computer junkies. for thought. Restrain...restrain...restrain. The keyword is restrain, not refrain.

Minors should not be allowed to be on Facebook - Only children of 13 and above are allowed to register on FB. But I do see a lot younger ones there too. They are all there.

I don't have the time to respond to every new picture or status my friends post. They might think I don't care - You don't have to. You respond only when you feel like or have the time to do so.

I don't like talking about myself. Facebook is so narcissistic - Some feel it is vain to talk about or post pictures of oneself. Even though they feel like telling friends they got a raise or promoted, they fear it might come across as being shallow.

I am not on the same social plane - Superiority or inferiority complexes make some feel that they cannot interact with a few people on an equal level. I faced the same when my ex-domestic help's daughter wanted to add me. One simply has to get rid of this hangover.

I don't want unknown people to contact me - People search for you if they know your name and have  met you at some point in time. The payoff of one high school classmate contacting you, far offsets the ten odd messages unknown people will send you.

I am a private person - No Comments

It distracts and is addictive - True if you don't know when to log out. Most people will go from picture to picture or video to video even though the food has been reheated for them in the kitchen for the third time.

It breeds solitude and apathy towards people around you - Again, controlling when to log out could be an answer.

I am not allowed - People working for the government and other agencies are not allowed by order to have a public profile. They cannot tell us that so they simply say, "I am not a very Facebook kind of a person". It is better not to grill them much if you still haven't gathered that from their crew cut hair and mannerisms.

Facebook is personal space, I don't want to discuss business here - Most Clients either don't want to add subordinates, suppliers or keep their business associates in 'Limited Profile' for this reason.

People lie about themselves on the internet - That might be true for matrimonial or dating sites but strangely, most of the Facebook users are honest about themselves in their profiles.

Over commercialisation of feeds and data to marketeers - Umm...I think the same whenever I have to give out my mail id or phone number for anything or see ads that match the word contents of my emails.

Too much unwanted information - People don't want to know what colour bra you are wearing or how many tequila shots did you in. Fair enough. They want to maintain the image they have of you as they know you too be.

Hate those spelling mistakes - Purists don't like the lazy short forms others use. This is generally combined with one of the other bigger reasons for their aversion but it is one of the put offs for sure.

Whatever the world says or feels about social networking sites, I will always be thankful to 'Orkut' for making me and Partha meet. But yes, from now on I am going to go slow on asking people, "Are you on Facebook?"


  1. You have listed so many reasons (all seem to be logical) for why one feels like not using FB. And you are still on FB.. good to know the other side and still be on :-)

  2. Hey you read it already :) that was fast :)

    Yes I thought, instead of being outrightly judgmental about it, why not try and find out why some people are averse to it (including my husband :)

    I love Fb :)

  3. Nicely done vandana:)
    i love FB too....and brought it out well that its up to us how we use it
    enjoyed your previous piece as well
    shall we do coffee sometime in the real world?

  4. Hey Priyanka :)

    Yes let's do coffee in the real world :) Nothing like gup-shup and khana-peena :)

    Thanks for reading the takes a lot of time to do so...really appreciate your visit :)


  5. WONDERFUL way of putting it vandu!
    i also feel exactly d same! Actually this shud b d FIRST question 2 ask, wen u r abt 2 get friendly wid!I luv FB!...COZ...u gotta 2 b there wen u wanna b!its dat simple! YEAH!

  6. love it...hate it...can't ignore it...Facebook is like that only Kavita ;)

  7. Infact my view is rather than exchanging numbers, FB ensures we give other person more space. Phone is intrusive, FB maybe if you flaunt your private life in the public glare.

    Well thought of post :)

  8. I know...I find FB better is less intrusive, so flexi and relaxed. I was trying to find out why some people don't like it :) turns out there r lot many reasons :)

  9. hmmm... I don't know...I go on Fb only to see photos, links....and ? and nothing ! :p

    Thoughtful post..and well written. :)

  10. It is funny. Most of the points that are against FB, are precisely the reason why I use it. I hate phone calls.

  11. It is funny. Most of the points that are against FB, are precisely the reason why I use it. I hate phone calls.

  12. Well written Vandana.... Guess I too will have to think twice before asking ppl 'Are you on facebook?' :D

  13. @ Anagha, yes i guess most of the people go to FB to chk out pix and generally be updated about what their friends are upto.

    @ Harish, I didn;t mean to do an anti-FB post coz I looooove FB :) it's just that these are a few valid reasons some people don't like it. Initially I used to be biased against I guess they are entitled to their FB-aversion :)

    @ Yes Radhika :) I strongly feel that we sometimes rush as it is so easy to keep in touch via FB. I will now wait n see if the other person has the time or inclination to be in touch me and then ask this question :)

  14. Well, I had a kind of love-hate relationship with Facebook for a long time, until I could finally stir up enough self-apathy to delete my attention-seeking fb account this month.

    You have covered almost all the points here. The only thing you've left though is that any virtual network which is too brassy in itself can become a person's only outlet to connect with the world, even if nobody is bothered. As a matter of fact, Facebook is getting there fast. And on top of everything, there's that sickening feeling of being judged - even by close friends - for posts and status updates on Facebook.

  15. You like it or not, you will definitely get judged by what you post. If you are happy and you show it, you are a show-off. If you are sad and you show it, you are needy. The only thing that is well received is clean humour. Apart from that, yes you will be judged. But I feel the benefits of being in touch outweighs the negatives. Imagine if you meet a classmate after years and ask for the well being of his/her family by member names, it brings instant connect.

    It takes a lot to delete your are brave :) I deactivate it from time to time but haven't had the courage to delete it.


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