Friday, January 20, 2012

The Facebook Mania

These days, the ongoing craze among my friends is Facebook. Hardly one or two of my contemporaries do not have an account in Facebook, or ‘Fb’ as it is more popularly called over here. Those few who do not have accounts in Facebook are marked as ‘outdated’ and ‘uncool’. And if one is like me, who has an account but visits it once in four months, then one is termed ‘crazy’. Not that it bothers me much; I am called crazy for numerous other reasons anyway!

Whatever happens in school or in tuition classes, a post has to be made in Facebook. And in spite of an absence of word limit, only sms language should be used. “2day, we hd 2 free periodz in skul, yay!!!!!” is a very typical post. Other than that, whatever petty programs or fights take place, a Facebook post seems to be mandatory. Even the lack of activity, “Jaanish, aajke school e kichhu pora hoeni!!!” has to be posted. As for photos, the less said about it the better. My classmates seem to have this bizarre habit of taking the most awkward and senseless photos possible, and then uploading them on Facebook, only to be bombarded by a series of equally senseless and bizarre comments. Once when I had logged in after a goodly period of time, I had got a bit of a shock to find a group photo of a few of my friends from St. Xavier’s School for boys standing around holding up their pantaloons! That photo had fetched more than sixty comments!

All kinds of weird activities go on in Facebook. Most of my school friends seem to be ‘in a relationship’ with someone or the other in Xavier’s. However, when I ask them about their 'relationships' outside Facebook, they say that they are ‘single’! Both boys and girls together attend my father’s tuition. I have some friends there who are boys. They refuse to speak to me or even look at me when we meet each other, but the same boys send me messages saying “You seem to have forgotten me” on Facebook!

As for that strange business of ‘friend’ing someone, it goes right above my head. How can any Tom, Dick and Harry become your ‘friend’ just by sending a request on Facebook? But that is just what happens there. My classmates have hundreds of ‘friends’ on Facebook, fifty percent of whom they don’t know at all! There is an unwritten competition about who has the maximum number of friends, so most people will accept friend requests from just about everyone!

Facebook has become a worldwide sickness that affects not only teenagers with a lot of free time and nothing to do, but also people of their parents’ ages. Nowadays a number of advertisements feature parents communicating with their children through Facebook. One such advertisement shows a group of college goers who have just checked the latest update on Facebook where the mother of one of the boys has posted “Just made biriyani”! With this also comes the fact that the parents who say that reading books outside the prescribed syllabus is a waste of time do not seem to mind when their children spend hours doing absolutely nothing on sites such as this.

This being the situation everywhere, I am glad to say I have not been affected badly by this disease. As I said before, I have a Facebook account that I hardly ever visit. E-mails and notifications from Facebook are directed to the scrap box of my gmail i.d., and I get along very comfortably with this Facebook-free lifestyle. A few years back some classmates of mine had encouraged me to open a hoax account on Facebook because I was not thirteen yet at that time. The first month had seemed very exciting, but then my father had found out about the account and had forbidden me from using it. Then, sometime last year he told me I could open a Facebook account again if I wanted to. I opened my present one then, but the craze was already a thing of the past, and now it is all but unused.

I wish I could make at least one or two of my friends realize what a big waste of time Facebook is. There are so many other ways in which one could enjoy oneself. But they are determined not to listen, and since I realized that I was fighting a losing battle, I have stopped talking on this subject altogether.

On this subject, I would like my readers to take a look at this wonderful piece written by a newspaper writer called Chandril Bhattacharya. In fact, it was this piece of writing that induced me to write this post. Many thanks to Saikatda who sent this to baba. An advance apology to all my non-Bengali readers; I will not be able to translate this properly, so I am posting the original piece. Sorry!

22 comments:

Tanmoy said...

Dear Pupu

The disease called facebook is infectious isn’t it? It had to be. For ages, human beings are curious about other’s lives. Facebook made being “peeping toms” a fashion statement. Facebook did help me to connect to various long lost school/college mates, however, I too don’t use it to share real-time feelings. In fact, at times, I find it surprising that people so keenly share their private photos on the web and expect endorsement from all and sundry. However, one cannot complain, I suppose. In an age, where iPhone designs a talking device and people use the device as a “friend”, virtual friends are probably solace for many.

Thanks for sharing the Bangla article. It made my day.

Good wishes

Tanmoyda

Saikat Chakraborty said...

Dear Pupu,

The widespread popularity of facebook indicates that people don't want to enjoy solitude (about which you wrote in a post earlier) anymore or rather they have lost the power to enjoy solitude. I find most of my acquaintances hell-bent on sharing everything about their private lives in a public forum. If they go for a trip, watch a good movie or eat 'phuchka', they have to upload photos or comment about it. It seems that the whole purpose of doing anything is to share it on facebook and brag about it.

I have an account too and as I have learnt that- "Jekhane dkhibe chaay, uraye dekho tai, payleo paite paro amulya ratan" , sometimes I find some good piece of writing (like the one written by Chandril) or rare photos of great personalities shared by someone. Anyway,thanks for the acknowledgement and take care.

With good wishes,
Saikat da

Nishant Kamath said...

Hi Pupu,

It's not just about the time people waste reading/writing sms text on 'Fb'. I have heard instances where someone said something like 'In Hawaii, enjoying the beach and sun with X Y Z.' That was probably in sms text, but I never managed to master it. And these X/Y/Z got tagged and then some burglar, on realising that X wasn't at home, robbed the place clean! And on top of that, I've seen people busy updating statuses from their cell-phones about how beautiful the scene from Mt. Evans is. And then they get busy replying to all the comments that flow in and forget all about Mt. Evans. I really can't understand this morbid obsession people have with telling others exactly where they are and what they can smell and that they just saw a dog sleeping and other absolute nonsense. Seriously, who wants to know? I think Mark Zuckerberg is intelligent. He exploited a couple of very basic of human urges: the desire to show-off and a greater desire to know who's up to what.
And the thing about befriending I don't understand is why people, who are already 'friends' on orkut want to become 'friends' on facebook. That bit about 'relationship' is funny. Do they even know what 'being in a relationship' (even though it's facebook asking you such a question) even means?
Well, I am glad that the bug couldn't infect you.

Regards
Nishant.

Shilpi said...

Pupu,

I've been chuckling over what you've written here. I can only chuckle although the matter you've written about is not what I chuckled over. I feel like a dinosaur (when it comes to stuff like facebook...), and if I don't chuckle on and off with some help I'll feel like a glum dinosaur.

I've never understood this penchant for sms text - but that bit about "skul" got me confused for a sec' because I thought it was skull (spelt wrong). Those examples of yours made me laugh. I don't quite get this 'update' thing. I can't imagine seeing and reading or sending such public messages. Less said the better of the Xavier's boys who displayed their pantaloons in such an unbecoming manner. I'm glad I didn't see the actual pic. Your description was vivid enough.

Why do they call those things relationships?!...maybe they could come up with some descriptors, like 'relationship terminated before begun', 'non-existent relationship', 'imaginary relationship', 'just-to-display relationship (here on fb) but too terrified to actually talk with the girl.'

Some older yakking morons go into eulogies of how fb led them to find their long-lost so-loved school friends, and how such loving friendships were fostered through fb. To all that I can say, gah. Then there were some people who couldn't stop going starry-eyed over how much important communication took place through fb, and what a marvelous system it had been in gearing up the young for that dumb protest movement led by Hazare.

I had friends - and quite sensible friends - keeping farms on facebook, and getting 'very involved and busy' in their farming activities.

I enjoyed reading your essay here and I'm glad you wrote it, and I grinned and laughed over that Bangla piece (some bits went over my head). I've been thinking too with this essay and that article of yours: with these meaningless means of communication, the sanctity of language and written words is being destroyed; communication itself is becoming an unpleasant noise of burps, grunts, and gabbles. I remember your baba had once said on his blog that it was ominously significant that the message-board on facebook is called a 'wall'.

I'm not on fb and don't have any intentions of joining. I am immensely grateful about the internet, about google, blogger, gmail, gchat, and gtalk, internet radio, and music sites...including youtube, but facebook I can do well without. Twitter too has become a big thing. I don't understand why schools and universities have to be connected through fb and twitter messages.

Waiting for your next post.

Shilpidi

Dipanwita Shome said...

Pupu,

Chandril is just great and so is your post. The latter bears out my practices vis-a-vis Facebook and before that, Orkut. I had an Orkut account, but had to leave it within a few months of signing up because of the overwhelming inanity of the people involved. As for Facebook, I have visited my own account not more than fifty times in the last three years earning the uncool tag from all corners. I have even been called "dead". Now beat that!

I sort of shied away from Facebook all the more on seeing one of my teachers getting intimate with her husband on a sea shore as her profile photograph. Can you imagine that? She wouldn't be surprised at the photo of the foolish Xavier's boys holding up their pantaloons, I am sure. It seems to me that people need to know from others that they have lives and that they are happy instead of knowing it themselves, hence the slew of photos however inane or vulgar. Anyway, I am happy and reassured to know that I am in good company.

Anonymous said...

Dear Urbi,

Funny that I should come across your blog post today (which I happened to via Sir's post), since this is something I was having a good laugh over with my friends, you know, how so many people tend to treat their facebook accounts like their personal diaries. A person in my class - which supposedly constitutes of what is ostensibly referred to as the 'cream of the nation' - had uploaded within minutes of class being dismissed for the day because of the Department Festival, "Woohoo, no mr cls 4 2day! So nt atndng lgs (which happens to stand for Logos, the Department Festival) man!" This only goes to show that there are stupid people everywhere, even among the (ahem) cream. Every time I go home on a vacation, I consciously choose to stay away from facebook for months and when I log in again, I am usually greeted with panicked questions about my well-being and whereabouts. Most people seem to forget that there are other ways to communicate and better ways to spend your time than using 'fb'. What is most telling, however, is the observation that so many people across different age groups seem to have nothing better to do. The extent of their leisure is frightening, isn't it?

Best,

Urna di

Subhadip Dutta said...

Hi Pupu, nice post. I loved this one. Well, I have an account in Facebook and I should not mention, but I visit it almost five days a week. However, the good news is that I do not remain logged in for for than 5 minutes. I just check for 'updates' from my friends, check for messages from my friends and also for requests for friendships.

There is some more good news also - at present I am deleting the names of people whom I do not know, from my friends' list. Also, I do not accept any request for friendship from unknown people.

Well, here is a link from Sir's blog for the relationships thing that you mentioned - http://suvrooncemore.blogspot.com/2012/01/relationships.html.

One more thing, most people in real life do not know about 95% of the people they are friends with on Facebook. I doubt whether the figure is 50%, as you have mentioned. A person cannot have hundreds of friends - that is simply absurd!

Sumitha said...

Dear Urbi,

Facebook, and before it Orkut, helped me get in touch with several long lost friends, and for that, I am ever grateful to Buyokokten and Zuckerberg and the likes. Even before orkut and fb, there was something called batchmates.com (there still is), which reunited me with some folks from school as well. The importance of getting back in touch would be lost on you because you haven't said your good-byes yet and when you do, there will always be atleast an email id or a phone number that you could exchange, unlike postal addresses from the days of yore, which became null and void in a lot of cases, especially in Durgapur (what with numerous townships becoming extinct).

Coming to the use of sms language, it certainly is irritating when used in a formal context or on a blog or in a poem or prose; but if someone uses it to communicate with someone else who prefers that lingo too, I don't see any particular harm. To each his/her own. After all, language evolved as a means of communication and if that is how some folks like to communicate betwixt themselves, then it's better to let them be than analyse their actions and their intelligence quotients; that's my two paise on that particular matter.

Coming to relationships; ah well, it's a passing fancy among your schoolmates, nothing more :) Ten years hence, they will most likely have a hearty laugh when they recollect these incidents.

Some things are best taken at face value and not deeply dissected and analyzed; that's coming from my experience of 20 something years (excluding the 3 or 4 of which I have no significant memories).

Regards,
Sumitha

Urbi Chatterjee said...

I was waiting to see whether some more comments came in before I wrote a reply.

Tanmoyda, I guess one of the only profitable uses of sites like Facebook is indeed being able to get back in touch with long-lost friends/acquaintances. In fact, the reason my father has still not deleted his account is so that more of his ex-students may get to know about his blogs through Facebook.

Saikatda, thank you for your comment, and I am very happy to know that you too read my blog sometimes. And isn't it a curious coincidence that you found Chandril's writing on Facebook itself?

Nishantda, I really cannot decide whether to feel sorry for the man whose Facebook post led to his house being robbed, or to say that he deserved it. But that one is certainly going to stay in my mind as a warning against such silly announcements about my whereabouts!

Shilpidi, that 'wall' one is certainly a blast! I had never thought of it that way, but now I am certainly going to use this on my Facebook-crazy friends. I wonder whether they will see the joke though...

Dipanwitadi, you were tagged 'dead'? Okay, that is something really horrible. I would certainly have had a lot to say to those who had tagged me as that if I were you!

Urnadi, it really is a pity that people like this batch mate of yours are there in so-called elite institutions like St.Stephen's. They are certainly not good advertisement for the place. And their extent of leisure is indeed frightening. But as Nishantda has said, Zuckerberg must have had people like them in mind when he turned Facebook into a profit making site. He must be glad that so many people have so much of free time and so little work!
Pupu

Dipanwita Shome said...

Well, I didn't say anything to those concerned because, as I said, I don't need to know from Facebook if I am dead or alive. No use getting angry with them, they are pitiable-leading lives for photographs and tags and comments, aren't they?
Anyway, all the best for your exams. Do well!

sayantika said...

Dear Pupu,
I must say that you have hit the nail right on its head when it comes to Facebook. I had joined Facebook a few years ago, and except for adding many of my school friends and knowing what each of them were doing, Facebook hadn't served any purpose, because I hardly use it to communicate through them. I feel an e-mail id is enough. I have deactivated my account because I tended to waste a lot of time playing the games there, which too became repetitive and boring. Neither do I understand this craze for comments on photos. Many of my friends ask me to come online to post a comment because they have uploaded a new profile picture (!) and most of them think I am crazy because I don't have the patience to upload my photos.
Nor do I understand why one needs to tell everyone what they are up to all the time. And I feel the more I am away from Fb, it's better for me. Thanks for Chandril Bhattacharya's piece! Had a hearty laugh reading it and your post. :)
With love,
Sayantika di

Krishanu Sadhu said...

There are some very interesting and thoughtful comments posted in response to a NYTimes article on FB-mania ; the interested reader can take a look :



Krishanu

Mayuri Mukherjee said...

Dear Pupu,

While I agree with your criticism of Facebook, I must say that Facebook, or any social networking site for that matter, is what you make of it.

I have been a regular Facebook user for several years now and over time, I have found it to be a useful tool both in my personal and professional life.

Obviously, like others have already Facebook helped me get in touch, and more importantly, keep in touch with people I would have otherwise lost contact with.

I am not particularly social and have often failed to put in the required effort to maintain a relationship. Facebook has offered me a more viable alternative, and cherish that.

You can question the 'quality' of my relationship with these 'friends' and you will be right to do so. But I believe that there are many types of friends and with each you can have a different kind of relationship.

In fact, there is a group of my friends on Facebook who I like to call Facebook Friends. These are people who I met in real life (I dont add strangers) but really befriended on Facebook. Because, it was here that we we realised through our posts and the stuff we shared that we had similar tastes and interests. It was on Facebook that we argued and fought and criticised each other works and opinions -- no matter we hadnt spoken to each other in months, even years perhaps.

As for my professional life, I use Facebook extensively for networking purposes. More importantly, I 'like' a lot of institutions, organisations and people on Facebook which allows me a unique opportunity to follow their work. In fact, I probably get as much of my news from Facebook -- I 'like' the NYT, WSJ, Firstpost, NPR, Al Jazeera, TIME, The Economist, Foreign Affairs -- as I do from traditional sources. Honestly, I think that Facebook has made my work a whole lot easier by allowing me easy access to a world of information that I can calibrate according to my needs and interests.

Of course, this is not to say that my experience is flawless. I face many of the same kind of problems that you have described. Mindless wall posts are a huge nuisance, but if they come too frequently from a particular friend, I just block their posts.

Ultimately, I think my Facebook profile (friends list, my 'likes' and 'shares', photos or the lack of it) are a reflection of my real life. Just like I have friends with whom I have a lot in common, I also have co-workers, for instance, who I strongly dislike. I don't like their jokes in real life and I don't like their forwards on Facebook -- but they are a part of my life and I can't change that.

And this brings me back to my original comment: Facebook is what you make of it. Just like everything else in life.

Just my two cents.

Best wishes,
Mayuri

Krishanu Sadhu said...

Here's the link :
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/01/technology/riding-personal-data-facebook-is-going-public.html?scp=16&sq=facebook&st=cse

Krishanu

Urbi Chatterjee said...

Thanks a lot for the link, Krishanuda. It is good to know that so many people all around the world share my take on Facebook.

Saikat Chakraborty said...

Dear Pupu,

Here's another example of facebook mania. Please check the following link-http://uk.lifestyle.yahoo.com/blogs/yahoo-lifestyles/couple-names-baby-girl-feature-facebook-174232702.html

With good wishes,
Saikat da

Sreejith Nair said...

Hey Pupu,
This is the first time I came across your blog. Well done!!
However, while how people use Facebook, to publicly demonstrate the shallowness of their intellect, the question is: "Is Facebook itself a bane?"
I see Facebook as an excellent platform emerging out of profound understanding of the human psyche.
Few interesting facts:
Researchers found that the top 3 reasons why people joined Facebook or were active on it are:
1. Friend count: to actually know how many - the number of - friends one really has.
2. Wipers - to get consoled/sympathized/appreciated
3. Surrogate messaging - to write posts intended at someone in the group without really mentioning the name.

The status bar is there because that is what most people are interested in. Moreover humans need a public declaration of their "availability status". Marriage/engagement rings and sindoor/mangalsootr serve as status messages in the physical world.

Just some random thought joggers. Playing the Devil's Advocate here.

Love & Regards,
Sreejith.

sneha said...

Hi Urbi,

Your post about this topic is making me think about the numerous hours that I have been wasting for such a needless and silly thing.I would like to add that mostly it is not because she/he wants to have an account in Facebook but it is "Peer Pressure" that forces them to do so.Well,again having said this I reflect to what Sir had discussed about in class Yesterday about the common problem that people of every age group ,whether an adult or a teenager like us is suffering from that is "Not being able to take their own decisions". So as far as i think,unless people can decide on their own they wont be able to do anything.Be it Taking the decision of not "Facebooking" as they call it or avoiding peer Pressure.
I loved reading your post and I am surely going to think about what you wrote before I think about logging into my Facebook account
next.

Regards,
Anurupa.

Urbi Chatterjee said...

Hello Anurupa,

Thanks for your comment, and welcome to my blog. Yes, you are very right in saying that peer pressure is a major cause for spending so much time on sites like Facebook. There is this strange fear in our minds that if we do not try to act exactly as every other person acts, we will be ostracized and avoided by everyone. All of us suffer from this to a degree (I am sure you have noticed how even the most unconventional of us consult our friend groups about what to wear on a special occasion day at school!). How different one is will depend on how far one can neglect the herd and do only what one wants to do oneself, and not because a thousand other people do it.
Urbi

Sunandini Mukherjee said...

Dear Urbi,
I agree that facebook has become a worldwide sickness which is indeed alarming.There are some people(very few though)who still care about 'language'and prefer privacy over'popularity'and facebook is like a horror film for them.Most girls and boys I meet are more interested in knowing whether I am on facebook than in knowing me which makes them boring and lazy people to converse with.I get tired by repeating myself that I do not intend to join facebook and can really not understand what is wrong with people addicted to 'chatting'.It is a pity that so many people(especially my generation)are no more interested in anything which calls for a bit of thinking.
With love
Sunandini di

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Dear Pupu,

I have been visiting this post after a time lag. Good to see that there have been a lot of comments; sad that too few wrote appreciatively about Chandril's mordantly wittingly little article (maybe a lot of people either didn't read it or didn't really understand!).

In any case, look up the two following links: bit.ly/OIAjj9

and on.mash.to/Kx0wfZ

The latter suggests six ways to 'kick' FB, thereby acknowledging that like any other drug, FB is now a recognized and unhealthy addiction. The last suggestion idea is telling for its simplicity: 'Just turn off the computer and go out and meet some people'. Imagine what moronic target audience is being addressed by the counsellor here!
Baba

Avik Mitra said...

Dear Pupu,

I must emphasize on one thing. Yes, I hate Facebook and I love it. The unwelcome attention people shower us with has always repelled me, let alone the way people actually live their lives on Facebook; that accounts for my hatred. But what if I say that all you do on Facebook is good business and even better money?

Regards

Avik