By Merrin Abraham
Edited by Nandita Singh, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist
Facebook, the online social-networking giant; exactly how addictive is it? It’s been just a bit more than 10 years since Facebook was conceived. Still, within this small span, it has made a huge impact on the world, and is almost a definite requirement for an average modern day teenager. You don’t have a Facebook profile? Are you living under a rock? Questions like these portray the attitude of the modern generation.
Exactly how did Facebook become so popular? Go see the movie, “The Social Network” for a start. Innovation at an apt time: that’s the secret to success. The same applies to Facebook too. For those of you who haven’t seen the film, the formative inklings of Facebook could potentially lie in a website called Facemash; also designed by Mark Zuckerberg, the website placed the images of two girls side by side and allowed viewers to vote for the one they thought was “hotter”. The website, needless to say, became an instant hit.
Now, almost ten years after its inception, Facebook has got its users hooked, including myself. Statistics say that more than 50% of users log in 6 days a week, which speaks for the level of addiction. Getting on to why so, Facebook, like any other social networking site, creates an online social community where everything is mostly expressed through text and images. So if you feel you are not good enough for the real world, lack communication skills, or if you are shy, Facebook comes to the rescue. I remember noticing a very common phenomenon among my schoolmates; even after spending hours chatting at school, they would come back home eager to log in to Facebook, just to chat with the same people they spent their entire day with. I really don’t know why we did that! It may be that we simply loved school more than home back then.
Facebook is a hub for connectivity between relatives, especially the distant ones, as well as being an extensive platform for the sharing of interesting information, which you just can’t resist to go through. Then there are those meme posts, which always manage to tickle your bones no matter what; you can’t help that. Not to mention, all your favorite celebrities are on Facebook; you get to know where they are going to travel next, when their latest song will be out etc. Though there are some laws restricting your freedom in terms of what you can post online, (i.e. if it infringes the privacy of others etc.) you are granted a certain virtual freedom that you can never really experience in the real world. You don’t need to think much about what you write,since only interested people will read or like it. For the times when you really don’t feel like talking, there is the magical chat box. Take your time and think before typing. It’s always better than a boring phone conversation.
Why is Facebook such a bad thing? Well, I’m not specifically criticising Facebook here; I’m against all those activities, which keep people hooked on to their laptops, phones, tablets etc. It’s when you realise that the time you spend on Facebook is not productive, that you start questioning your need to log on so much. Socialising with people in the real world has the benefit of improving your communication skills. I believe that the age of virtual reality poses a great threat to real-time socialising. We need to get out more often and talk more to people, because I really don’t want the next set of evolved Homo Sapiens to be fat and almost immobile, like in ‘Wall-E’. While I do agree that Facebook can be useful, it should never become the one activity that your life revolves around.
Do remember that there are more things at stake like your grades, job, physique, and most importantly, life. Do remember that when you submit yourself to such addictions, you are giving up your right to a social, healthy, happy, and most importantly “real” life.Merrin is currently pursuing an Integrated Masters Program in Humanities and Social Sciences at The Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. She has a variety of interests ranging from singing and dancing to playing football. She spends her time writing short stories and reading novels. An avid reader, she can survive without food if she has books to keep her company. She attends church everySunday and takes keen interest in her religion.