Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Getting on without facebook

I deactivated my facebook account. I wanted to conduct a social experiment. How my social life was - with or without facebook.  What do I gain, or lose, by being or by not being on facebook.  Mind you, I am not a facebook hater. I accept the social media as a reality and nothing to be afraid of or glorify it. In fact I am still active on Twitter and on LinkedIn. And I use all the social media for work.

Well, the findings. 

Although I am an active participant in the social media, I don’t miss facebook at all.  That's strange! I could continue to be off facebook forever. Of course, that has got to do more with my own character than the facebook itself. I have always moved on with new realities and with my new life and very rarely looked back.

The more important realisation was how bad my real social life was.  I mean facebook was just giving me an illusion of being in touch with friends when I was not. Every morning you logged in and 'faces' of 550 friends popped up with their status messages and new pictures, you felt as if they showed up in front of you. And then the moment you deactivated your account, there was silence and strange emptiness. As if you are in a distant land, alone. 

I realised I had actually not spoken to many of my real life friends. So I surprised one by calling him on his phone - something I had not done for ages. We chatted (I mean talked) for close to half an hour. In these months I have been away from facebook I have made this into a habit and a rule – call one friend every day and meet up with some friends every other day.

True, the traditional old phone method keeps you going with just 30 plus friends who are close to you. Then again, they are your true friends and not the 500 fictitious “friends” on facebook, some of whom you may never meet in your life.

Being away from facebook gives me little more time for myself. To read more, to write more and to have some real conversation. It also saves you from some uneasy feelings caused by a misinterpreted status update or a comment you might have passed on someone’s status or picture. You are also spared from the nightmares of being tagged to a movement or cyber protest you don’t adhere to. In my position and profession, it’s something I have to be careful about.

But I still use facebook for work. And I have not deactivated my account. I will return one day. Initially I decided I would be off for a week since I thought I might not be able to go on for a month. Three months since I last logged on, I am doing okay without it. In fact, I am doing superb – discovering new friends and catching up with old ones in the most traditional way. 


  1. I don't think it is a great sacrifice when someone deactivate their Facebook account. It is personal decision.
    By the way, are you really discovering new friends and catching up with old ones in the most traditional way? Or just turning away when you see your poor folks of your village? Soorry..this is how i blog.

  2. Dear Anonymous,

    Thanks for being frank. Let me be as frank.

    Two things.

    1. By village if you mean Pam, my paternal village, it is not made up of poor folks. There were only two very poor families - Ana Tshering, who is now resettled in Samtse and Late Ajang Duba to whom my father and I gave half an acre of land free of cost. (I don't know if his siblings ever realise that). But that's ok. Pam is well off by any Bhutanese standard. At least it was as far as I can remember. Road got there as far as 1963 and electricity reached in 1978.

    2. Actually my family was the one that was poor back then. My family was the one the village turned its back. WE were the ones who were ostracised for bringing ill luck to the village because we lost three houses in natural disaster. As you might not know my family was even driven out of Pam and so I grew up in a hut in Kharza - looking after cows. Except for few friends of my sister, I really don’t have anyone from my age with whom I grew up, whom I can call friends. So no real bonding happened. In later years though I became very close to meme Phajo who passed away and with some of my cousins, one of whom is married to my elder sister.

    As you can see from this brief account, I really don’t have happy memories. Still, as time goes by, old wounds are healing. During the last visit there I felt good. I felt nice to be among what you call ‘poor folks’. But I will let fate and circumstances decide for me. I don’t want to pretend to be nice. If it things are meant to happen, it will happen.

    For a more detailed account on the above, please wait for my autobiography, which I am currently writing.

    Meanwhile, I have done something for my adopted village, Rukha under Wangdue dzongkhag, inhabited by the Oleps, the last hunters-food gatherers of Bhutan. A community temple is what I am building as my last contribution there.

    I have also started discussions to do something for my maternal village, Tongling in Radhi. They want the old Dungyi Gonpa to be renovated. I am going there soon.

    Finally I am practicing what I have always preached. Follow your heart and not your relatives. That has been my slogan, which some readers might find familiar, as I have mentioned it in many of guest lecturing in various schools and colleges around the country – and abroad.

  3. I still facebook, quite a bit, I live in a very remote part of the country.

    For me, it's not that I'm a "facebook hater" I just don't like single monolithic companies exerting so much control. I say the same about Google, Microsoft, Apple, and so-forth.

    Here's my guide for weaning yourself off of facebook.. (though, I'm pretty sure no one here needs it):

    There's a good reason there are so many species of plantlife, animals and genetic diversity even within a species. We saw this problem with bananas back in the 1920's, farmers planted ONE species of banana tree, a disease pretty much knocked them all out.

    I think we could learn from the banana problem of the 20's.. but, we never seem to. :-)

  4. Hi This is John,,, I am an app developer... Thanks for sharing this informative post...