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September 11, 2012

Sometimes I wonder if Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook for NRIs.

Facebook promised me of things that I had forgotten after moving to America – friendships, gossip and all that worldly charm of crowd and clutter. If I were in India, my social calendar would be full with weddings, house warmings and other family gatherings to attend. Beach getaways, jungle resort retreats and temple tours would gnaw away the weekends. Meeting up with friends and the occasional mail chatter would have kept me abreast with the latest gossip. Conversations flowed through walls and I would know the happenings of an entire community. With all this, I wouldn’t have bothered to check my Facebook account. I would have signed up to keep up with the technology but forgotten it existed, like its dead rival(?) Orkut. 

But when you are far away from all that noise, long lost acquaintances, seniors who created havoc to our raging hormones and ex-boyfriends are matters of national importance. Also we can never have enough wedding pictures to gaze at. Sometimes I wonder if Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook for NRIs. When the silence creeps us out we just have to login. Privacy be damned, you can peek all you want and nobody complains; instead they bask in the glory of publicity and relish the chance to one-up their virtual neighbors. They willingly let you in on their lives and give you front row seats. Plus there are links to funny videos, news updates, NPR queries and games, all with just one click.

There was a time when, after my dutiful visits to friends and relatives in India, I would make notes on what to enquire during the next international call. This jotting down happens even before the flight takes off from the Chennai airport. After all, how could I miss out on knowing which cousin lost his job and who was moving to London. Forget all those hassles, now I can simply check their profiles. The news feed had become my very own reality show. My friends list kept growing. I fell in love with Facebook.

My intemperate passion soon came back to haunt me. In my love-struck eagerness, it seemed I had befriended half the world. The thumb rule I had used to add familiar faces was that any new friend and I should share at least 5 mutual friends. I reasoned that if they all knew her, I should know her too, even if I was finding it hard to place his or her name/face. Remember that girl with oily pig tails in school. Well, she had transformed into this uber chick Google employee with a mansion in California and a vacation home in Athens. That was just the tip of the iceberg. There are these other scouring friends - The ones who were checking their pictures with an eagle eye and would turn up at my doorstep if I did not return their compliments. So when they pettily quoted that my house looked charming, I hurriedly gushed that their kids were adorable. After sometime you realize that there are silent stalkers too. They never comment, rarely post on their walls but are ardently gulping down the happenings of the entire friends list. Then there are video gurus who notch up the level of annoyance. Their morning mantra is to post at least 100 “funny” “cool” and “must watch” videos. Apparently nobody told them it was spamming. The iceberg was in full view now.

With Facebook, every picture is taken for the wider audience, every dish prepared for the entire friends list, every occasion recorded, revised, and reloaded. If you were posting about taking a road trip, there would be pictures of a cross country drive. Any plans of quietly taking in your 30th birthday would be quashed with questions and reminders of the “big” day. While you were thinking of artfully forgetting to cook a feast for your anniversary, even your neighbor’s grandson was interested in the menu. Everybody was having a better life, getting ahead, and getting somewhere and I couldn’t log out. Worst of all, Facebook even demanded more romance from husbands. First of all it’s too cheesy to expect them to be the first to comment on everything and second of all it just provides more fodder for quarrels – If the briyani and lingerie did not work, Facebook is not going to make him poetic or politically correct. Even after prompting and nudging countless times, he would simply stare at my wall with a loss of words. Feeling sorry for him and my love lost state I would post about it on my wall.

It began to dawn on me. Facebook is like your mother. You love her but you need the distance. A detached attachment was required for the love to flourish. I was getting to the point where there was my Facebook profile and then there was me—a multiple personality disorder that was not just for the movies. If I did not take care, I would not just be watching the reality show but be in it.

All was not lost. Before I could drown, I grabbed my life jacket. I removed all notifications to my email. I check Facebook once a day. It would have been easier to deactivate my account, but I need the occasional gossip fix and the whole world need not know what a chicken I was. My life is great as it is, just wasn’t that glamorous on a pedestal, when it shouldn’t be there in the first place. It is a relief not checking status updates like a pavlovian dog or obsessing over other people’s wedding pictures. Facebook had become the Indian hockey team, all its glory days are in the past.

I think I’ve kicked my Facebook addiction. Besides there were circles and hangouts to lure me. One is simply powerless in the magical web of the social network. 


    12.09.12 11:30 PM
    I think there is a magic word for this and it's called AMEN. That's why I don't do facebook.

    I think this is same as porn they both are addictive, so why is one bad over the other when the result is same? I will never understand... they both are fake and time wasting and you don't get anything in return and what is the point behind it all........nothing.
  • Ajeeth Boaz
    Ajeeth Boaz
    12.09.12 12:21 PM
    Thats the reason I still dont have a facebook account. Research says that people spend 8 hours a day on Facebook, and few check their account 20 to 25 times a day
  • indu chhibber
    indu chhibber
    12.09.12 09:22 AM
    You got over your addiction in good time-more than gossip,i find it of little use.
  • Jyoti
    11.09.12 12:28 PM
    Ah! Tell me about it. I was never a Facebook addict but I am surprised to see some people addiction level towards it.

    It is not wrong to be social, but the way people make a public screening of their private life is annoying.

    I was really surprised to see a friend's status update about his wedding which went something like..

    7 hours to wedding, 6 hours to wedding... and it went up to currently at wedding and ended with Finally Married.

    I really wonder if he has actually enjoyed the Special moment in his life or was in a hurry to get it over so that he can update his Facebook status.

    You should read Debasmita's post on this -


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