The Facade That Is Facebook
Every now and then, I am led into the decision of taking a hiatus from Facebook.
As would be expected, barely a day passes and I fail miserably. The kind of epic failure that most New Year resolutions enjoy.
With each failure, I have nothing to say for myself other than,
(ACTIVATE – Blame-Game)
‘Zuckerberg made me do it’!
He intelligently envisioned how I would fail every time.
He created this monster that has now become such an integral part of my life, I can’t break free.
Okay, that’s a little dramatic… I can break free. It is just that I do not want to or rather, I periodically want to. But the thing is: I don't feel like I should or I can.
Living in another country (quite a viable excuse) forces me to have Facebook as part of my daily regimen- right next to showering, brushing my teeth or washing my face; and while it doesn’t keep my body clean & healthy like the rest, it exercises my brain.
However, there is good exercise and bad exercise.
Most times, after really thinking about it, I realise how much bad brain exercise Facebook is.
A fake world.
A perfectly engineered facade.
And there are 10 reasons why this seems to be truer every day:
On Facebook, everyone always seems happy, dandy, ever-photogenic, having fun, meeting cool friends, smiling on 90% of the photos….just looking fantastic! There are hardly gloomy days, bad hair days, moody days, not-so-photogenic moments seen on the photos. Even when there is a sad/depressing status, post or photo, there is no ‘Do not Like’ button so we almost ignore it and wait for the next happy thing to use the ‘Like’ button on….
..and this is why everyone at one time/constantly feels obligated to Like and Comment on any cool new thing. It is like we are in a sorority group giving each other encouragement and motivation for the slightest of things even when we don’t exactly care or mean it…at times we do it since lots of other people are doing it or because the person posting is a close friend…and eventually the Liking and Commenting probably even starts to feel like a form of currency…
…and besides that, there is always a notification about someone’s birthday that you feel you must acknowledge with a wall post; perhaps because you know the person, you are not entirely close to them, but it is ‘good’ to say something; Or you are close to the person and since there is the possibility of writing on their wall, then there is no need for a phone call, right? Before the advent of Facebook you would either know when someone’s birthday is or you wouldn’t – all depending on your closeness to them. Fast forward to today and everyone’s birth date is shoved down your throat whether you like it or not and this is a problem for you because….
….not all of the people who are your friends on Facebook are your actual friends. You met some of them at that random event, wedding, party or they are your friend’s friend, sibling’s friend, an old, old (did I say) old classmate…basically, someone who you rather not add to your ‘Facebook Circle’ because you don’t think you need to; But they insist, or make you feel guilty about not adding them. Then in comes your conscience(Damn it). It makes you feel obligated to click ‘Confirm’ or ‘Add Friend’. You do it with the most fantastic Monalisa half-smile on your face because you know that….
….you will not exactly speak to them often or ever. Adding them as your friend on Facebook is a sort of formality, favour, good deed, charity… By the end of the year, you will have added a good number of people you will hardly get to speak to – except maybe when they send you a message or you exchange likes, comments, pokes or birthday messages. If you continue this wonderful trend of adding friends blindly, then Facebook turns you into a page because they realise you shouldn’t be an average human being if you have over 5000 friends. Okay, you are not even at 5000 friends- yet. Most likely you are not even close. However, you still can’t manage to constantly communicate with even up to 50 of your Facebook friends. Then you realise that most of those Facebook friends are there as numerical decoration…..
….or they are there for your cheap entertainment. Facebook seems like a Broadway Theatre. Everyone is trying to play a certain role or to seem a certain way in order to continue being relevant(a very relative term) to their audience. Some adopt their real personas while others adopt those we are still trying to figure out. What seems certain is that almost all of us don’t know what we are doing on this platform, how to be or how to act while in it. There is no particular Code of Conduct for Facebook-Friend Management. We all just go with the flow….
….until some people spoil that flow by invoking the ‘Oh no you didn’t’ gasps in us. These people are not entirely sensitive about how other people feel about what they put on their timelines. It is either the not-so-great photo they tag you on, or the not-so-appropriate status update they post, or that I-would-rather-not-click-on url they share with you. They are the kind of people who make us happy that Facebook now allows us to approve tags before they land on our timelines. Although this allows us some peace of mind, it also hands us a perfect chance of being ‘dishonest’ by portraying only the appropriate versions of our lives, ourselves and our friends….
…which then spreads a new form of social pressure. As if the kind of social pressure we face in the real world is not enough, we go on to duplicate it in our virtual world. If everyone is only highlighting their best selves on Facebook then isn’t everyone constantly questioning themselves and their lives? Before you know it, questions like ‘Why am I not that or doing that?’ rear their ugly heads. Depending on how pensive our minds, days or months are, the questions will keep haunting us. It sort of makes it hard to entirely accept ourselves and our experiences since we are always watching other people live their ‘oh-so-fabulous’ lives….
….and this in turn presents that nagging feeling of constantly being watched or scrutinized. Facebook provides an open gallery about you to your friends, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Someone somewhere is always watching what you are up to. They understand your Facebook footprint better than you do. They could probably write your entire biography just by looking at your profile. You start to wonder what you should and shouldn’t share on your timeline. You always have to question yourself….
…and if that is not enough, you can hardly be on Facebook to get some peace or calm. Too many things happen at the same time. There are too many things to check. There are too many things calling for your attention: spooky notifications on the right hand corner about what everyone is currently doing, that home page with an ever-bloated feed of what people are posting, that chat application where people are ready to pounce once you get online, those random messages from unknown human beings…..It is almost as if you have to go on Facebook with a to-do list and strategic plan of what you must do. Otherwise, you will be sucked into the vortex of Random Facebooking. Random Facebooking works like a sneaky little Time Machine- it gobbles up your time and drops you into the future: 2 hours, an afternoon or a day later. Then you realise that you have lost a substantial portion of your short life doing nothing particularly stimulating for your brain.
So there you have it: Facebook is bad brain exercise. It is a fake world we have built for ourselves. And we love it.
However much my brain protests, it seems that my heart is unperturbed.
It is clear that my elusive hiatus is a long way from happening.