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.