Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Facebook Junkie

"I am starting to feel like I have had a long and overbearing relationship with over a hundred people and counting."

The ‘Communication Era’ is what we have happily dubbed the times we live in. After being the most cumbersome, near-impossible feat for mankind it has now become one of the most mundane daily activities for us to communicate with one another. After tiny letters sent on the heels of doves, after men traveling through treacherous terrain and Graham Bell’s joy at hearing a voice in the other room answer his call. We now have it all at a click of a button, no sense of accomplishment included. You know the lot; emails, video-calling, and our latest cyber drug social-networking sites. They come in the form of Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and many more I dare not list in fear of losing you right here.

I would like to interject right now by stating that I am indeed a recovering Facebook addict. You may sneer at the word ‘addict’ but I do not use it lightly or even for dramatic effect. I have actually experienced all the stages and shown all the signs of a proper addiction. A couple of years back I curiously started using, which led to abusing and eventually heavily depending on and being purely addicted to what I call the ‘Peeping Tom’ networking site.

These sites are meant for reconnection, but what do we really use them for once we have connected with all the random and not so random faces from our past? At first it felt like the high-school reunion from hell. You mentally prepared yourself and became excited at the thought of seeing how the years have treated these people. You polished your profile and made sure it looks presentable and if possible, impressive. Later came the feeling of being obligated to accept ‘friend requests’, people ‘poking’ you and readily answering a barrage of questions about your life. Overwhelming I know, not to mention feeling a tad creepy after going through your friends’ photo albums and acquiring complete knowledge of their daily activities scrolling through their ‘status updates’. I might be somewhat old-fashioned but aren’t personal photos supposed to be conveniently saved on your hard-drive or safely tucked away in a box somewhere for you to sift through on a day when you feel life is just not worth it?

Updating your status seems to be a competition for the Facebook junkie, always looking for the best sentence to make his name pop on someone’s list. So basically a lonely drive can end up morphing into, a relaxing cruise and a boring stay at home into a well-deserved rest, on one’s status. Since when have we become so ready to divulge every detail of our lives and document every movement we make? A Facebook junkie would happily update his status every couple of hours, telling me, a person who really doesn’t care that they have ‘just woken up’, an hour or so later ‘had breakfast’, next ‘off to work’ and before you know it you have become so accustomed to this person’s routine you feel you could write their status for them. Status updates are not confined only to the user’s movements though, some are just mere facts of which my favourite are the weather updates. When all else fails mention the weather, it is a sure-fire when used in conversations why not Facebook? Status goes something like this ‘it’s raining’, it’s windy’, ‘it’s sunny’ dear God we can look out the windows ourselves!

Some people have actually surpassed the term Facebook junkie reaching a whole new level of insanity that I am afraid they cannot recover from. These people found in Facebook the means to live a life outside their own using the virtual photo albums as proof of their so-called self. Photo albums on Facebook have transformed into virtual shopping lists and restaurant menus. If they see an item they want they snap a shot and it’s posted on their page, thereby enforcing their style and earning the right to be called ‘trendy’. What is even more mind-boggling is the sheer amount of comments and responses these photos get, all praise of course, but who are you actually praising? The designer who made these products? Because the person who posted a photo of the item cannot really be praised for just posting right? Apparently they can. Facebook albums are void of faces yet full of Hermes, Graff, and many, many plates of food.

People are living lifestyles so far from their true identities it is actually frightening. Why do they feel the urge to keep others informed? Is it because they seek validation? Long for a connection? Or just because it is easy to do so? If information is indeed power, then aren’t we providing it to random people by readily updating every move we make and every desire we long for?

This over-share of information erases the curiosity shrouding people’s lives and in turn eliminates the mystery. I am starting to feel like I have had a long and overbearing relationship with over a hundred people and counting. They are with me all the time and although I haven’t seen their actual faces or been in their presence for years I am starting to feel somewhat crowded. I feel like we should take a break and allow each other some space. You see, it’s not you, it’s me. I just cannot handle knowing your every move and complimenting you on your folders of shopping, so let us take a breather for a while. And if you would allow me one last piece of advice, please, please leave the weather to the weatherman.

This article was published in The Gulf Today newspaper on April 18, 2009.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting perspective on the "Friend's newspaper" as i like to call it.

    It does provide diverse range of insights on consumers (the friends) Where they are, what they like, who they're with. Like all short insights stereotypes emerge be they -ve or +ve.

    ...and the world rolls on.

    Well done Lady H.

    Roy B.


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