My diatribe against Facebook, or why I hate social networking.

Ok, so I just signed up for Facebook and started a blog today. Don’t hold it against me or against my right to spew venom against the global conspiracy that is “social networking”.

I resisted for as long as I could. I held out for months while the rest of the literate world raved on about Facebook and Twitter and how Web 2.0 was the best thing since buttered bread (tired cliché intended). Well, I was doing just fine with 1.0.

Let us look at the benefits of avoiding social networking. You can keep your enemies far and your friends farther. In the real world, you keep your work buddies separate from your knitting buddies. No one needs to know what you do every waking moment of every day. You can avoid a party at a socially awkward colleague’s house by saying that you would like to attend, but unfortunate circumstances require you to be at your favorite uncle’s funeral. You can then conveniently slip away from his clutches and sip mojitos in your postmodern apartment while listening to Scooter’s techno-classic Posse (I Need You On the Floor) (extended version, of course). No one needs to know what you do, everyone minds their own business, and the earth keeps revolving.

I have to point out that of course, we are speaking hypothetically here (because you all know that I would never do anything like this to you). But we cannot deny that social networking ruins this fragile, idyllic lifestyle. You use Facebook and your spouse finds out that you commented on a mutual friend’s page when you were supposed to be in an important business meeting. Your attractive friend finds out that you actually have a spouse. And your awkward friend keepings reminding you that he sent you an invitation to be his friend and that you haven’t replied in weeks. Your jig is up and soon or later out of the kindness of your heart you have to let the vile creature into your sanctum sanctorum.

Alas! For me peer-pressure kept mounting and so I had to buckle too. The chattering and the scrapping and the tweeting just wouldn’t stop! Because everyone else was networking online, whenever I entered a room, everyone looked at me like I was straight out of 1984. And I am talking about the year 1984, and not the anti-totalitarian novel by Orwell or the eponymous film with the brilliant, pained method-acting by John Hurt.

I tried to counter social ostracism with outward, deliberate geekiness. There I’d be, drawing my BlackBerry from my holster and texting away like a sophisticated speed-demon, but to what avail? No one took me seriously! Because I didn’t have a Facebook account, in every room and in every bar in this nation, I was a source of ridicule – I was the Geico caveman without the chic couture.

So, I went ahead and signed up and started sending out invitations to people I knew in the flesh so that they could become my buddies in ether (not the paranormal or anesthetic kind). All the while, the website kept reminding me of my inadequacy. I kept adding acquaintances, but was shocked to find out that everyone else had at least one hundred friends. Some had over five hundred! People – that is enough to stage a coup in a small Pacific island! If you are reading this I recommend the island of Tonga and that you act fast since the oceans are rising due to global warming (or likely due to “normal” cyclical fluctuations, if you happen to be lawyer for a Fortune 500 energy company).

The point is I now have to keep inviting people until my ego is satisfied that I have enough so-called friends. I have exhausted my bipedal acquaintances and just recently extended invitations to an apparition in Amityville and a yak in Mongolia. In addition, the system also keeps prompting me that Beyonce and I have a gazillion mutual friends and that I should invite her to be my friend too. Not my fault, so folks stop it, already! I am sure Beyonce already has a BFF who thinks she should have won this year’s Video Music Award.

Another problem I have is that I can’t get by with only a Facebook account. If you didn’t already know, I’m from India and the most popular social networking site there is Orkut. Incidentally, Orkut is also crazy popular in Brazil and I am quite sure that it is because of the coconut connection. Anyways, I had to open an account with Orkut to deal with my cultural schizophrenia. Very few Indians on Orkut communicate in English and those that do, do it very badly. This is not a theory (like evolution), this is a scientific fact. So unwillingly, I had to open a Facebook account for my anglophile friends and an Orkut account to deal with my coconut-crazy desi heritage. And for the record I am not being an elitist bastard here; I will not judge the plebes if they want to drink tap-water and they in turn, should not begrudge me my Evian. And you there grinning on your couch, why don’t you try faking poor English? “Myself am wanting to be your reliable friend,” isn’t as easy as it looks.

I guess life will never be the same again. Like the “can-you-hear-me-now” salesperson in the phone ad, Facebook and Orkut will continue to annoy me forever. Fortunately, there might actually one redeeming feature about social networking. Used effectively, it might actually help a misanthrope like me annoy others. I’ve heard that the experts say that we can expect an unusually brutal winter across North America and I think I’ll post some photographs of the trip I took in summer. What’s some unabashed gloating among friends? Hawaii in May is so lovely!

© 2009-2011, Anirban

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10 thoughts on “My diatribe against Facebook, or why I hate social networking.

  1. annoying than them all is Twitter…I mean how could you post the whole 24 hours about what are you doing and to top it all people read and comment too!!…Phewww

    Hey we 2 seem to be same minded on this too after united front against the 3 idiots…Brother in arms eh 😉

    • Yeah… great minds think alike 🙂

      One thing about Twitter is that you can be more of a temporary follower (as opposed to FB). There are a lot of people tweeting “came home” “ate bread” “sat down” “feeling tired” but you can unfollow immediately and never hear from them again.

      There are also people who post some nice links in that way it can be like an RSS feed. I’m pleasantly surpised to find some establishments on Twitter that are posting headlines + links so I don’t have to browse their websites anymore.

  2. ok in between smiles i just want to share that not all is bad if u prefer to quietly prowl and just listen to the conversations…that is when u r tired of everything else and just want to vegetate fb manages to give u some entertainment…and yes u can go on a rampage later…and in between do something that tells u have arrived…howzaat

    • I agree that not all is bad (and you are right that this is meant to be a funny post more than anything).

      Now, I’ll play Devil’s Advocate and take the opposite side for a minute.

      If you know what you want out of these sites, they can be very useful from a business standpoint in terms of building brand and driving traffic. Where else, apart from Facebook, will you find over 400 million potential global customers?

      • these people who are having happy reunions and going down nostalgic memory lanes and others who love showing their friends how happy and fulfilling their lives are…i thought i was seeing some sort of camaraderie…never thought it that way…maybe you have a point there…:)

  3. Love it !! I always wanted to do a post myself on how much I hate any of the social networking gigs.But you have it all covered. True – no one really needs to know what any of us does every waking minute of our lives.With Tweeter and Facebook, every one gets a taste of celebrity lifestyle. However I just cannot bring myself to follow someone like Palin no matter how badly I have been dropped on the head or for that matter anyone.
    So what I am trying to say is – “deactivate” is a nice word and action, my friend. Every account that you have. Disappear from the social scene. It is bliss !! Trust me as I am not only the preacher. I practice.

    • It is truly hard to deactivate once you’ve activated. There is always a trace lying somewhere that Google will pick up on. Six months ago I had no social presence whatsoever. I might go back to that soon enough!

  4. Who are you? This is one of the very few intelligent blogs that I have read in my life. And you even have a blog on Feluda! I am indeed in love with the writer and Bangali in you.

  5. Loved each word of it! and second your thoughts there 🙂
    Some real nice stuff there, keep posting more

    Cheers,
    Bushra

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