Facebook fixation -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Facebook fixation

Rabia Alavi

On my birthday, my phone never stops ringing. I am like an excited child all day long because let’s face it, who doesn’t like attention? But this time, my birthday was incredibly boring. No one bothered to call. Not even my best friend who lives in Abu Dhabi.

Everyone decided to ‘post’ their greetings on my Facebook ‘wall’ instead. Some used language and expressed emotions that need not have been declared so publically. Others wished me when they didn’t even need to know that it was my birthday. But then, there is no respect for one’s own space on a wall, is there? So I had aunts, uncles, cousins, friends — and many of their FB contacts all wishing me.

I wonder if it is just me who finds this lack of any real confidentiality on social networking websites so irritating. While we fret over the lack of privacy when forced to share office space, a room, or our house — even if the set-up is temporary, why is it a price that most of us are willing to pay — as long as we can show off to the world?

Facebook is the place to brag about the oh-so-big house we live in, the close-knit family that we are, the beautiful kids we have, the places we shop at, the many different countries we have visited, or how well-read, well-versed or well-informed we are.

And we absolutely exult in the flattery that our exhibition brings upon us.

There is no denying that Facebook also has a very powerful, more positive pull to it. It is the perfect place for holding fiery debates or meaningful discussions on social, political or religious issues. You can form a group, start a movement, mobilise people for a cause, and even bring on a revolution, as the people of Egypt just did.

Then there is the most delightful aspect of Facebook — it magically connects us to people we went to school (or even playgroup) with, or those who were with us at college, university, or a former workplace.

In fact, I quite enjoyed the reunion of my college gang myself. It was interesting to know how they had fared as adults, what careers they had chosen, who they married, and how many kids they had.

Thanks to Facebook, I found out that a school peer, Russell (with whom I shared no more than three sentences in the entire two years of high school) has joined the Irish police force. And that Alexia, a friend from grade three, has a baby girl who looks just like her. And also that my Physics teacher at school and his beautiful wife, the class coordinator, are now divorced.

I am still trying to find out if Raj ever became the brilliant scientist he seemed destined to be. Or if Dana, with whom I shared many-a-tears during high school, ever became a doctor. And Saima, who cheated throughout college, I wonder if she succeeded at anything in life? These are people I haven’t found through Facebook’s Friend Finder.

But a little reconsideration on my part tells me that oblivion is not such a bad state of mind, especially when it comes to the success or failure of these FB contacts. Besides satisfying the natural curiosity that plagues us as humans, (and making me burn in envy when I see friends pose next to the Eiffel Tower or (sniff!) on the gondolas of Venice), the present circumstances of old friends make not an iota of difference to how I live my life.

And while Facebook has been simply awesome in the way that it has connected us to a whole new world, it has also distracted us to the point of disrupting our small, but peaceful, circle of friends and family.

Those of us who update our FB status every hour, and plan its content to the point of keeping a diary, are drifting away from the ‘real’ people in our lives — parents, spouses, siblings, the children and true friends.

We spend several hours with our Facebook family, congratulating them on their successes, consoling or condoling with them when they have bad news, and basically sharing a life with them.

Meanwhile, because we cannot manage two families (and a job) at the same time, we brush aside our actual family’s needs more often than not — to make space for mere acquaintances in our lives.

It takes serious retrospection to reach the conclusion that you might have what I like to call an FBF (Facebook Fixation), and that those you truly love are bearing its brunt.

But it needs even more resolve to nudge yourself so you can sign out of FB and kiss your kids goodnight, make your spouse his/ her favourite dinner, or give your mother that weekly call, already delayed by two weeks — all because Facebook made you think that you didn’t have time.

There is a life beyond Facebook. There always was.
Source: The News
Date:8/5/2011