Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Why I Am Not (Ever) Quitting Facebook

Surely you have seen bad things written about Facebook (fb). As the fb “app” evolves and becomes more intelligent and privy to its subscribers’ lives, the more questions have been raised and discussions about it have ensued in the cyber world. More and more people are said to be experiencing “Facebook fatigue” and are ditching this phenomenal social networking site.

One study reports that a third of its respondents have deactivated their account and 1 in 10 never returns. The topmost reason for quitting fb is related to privacy and security concerns over too much information being publicly made available, with some information unknowingly accessed from photos posted. That fb sucks time – time that could be profitably spent elsewhere – is also one of the top reasons people have taken extended breaks from or have totally quit the site.

Some of those who have left take pride in the status symbol of having done so, in that they find satisfaction in distinguishing themselves from mainstream and associating instead with the elite of superior taste, according to one assistant professor in New York University. Hmmm, pride and prejudice?

So why have I ventured into writing about this discourse on Facebook? Have I anything to add to it? Not really. I think I am trying to justify a growing addiction, an insatiable desire to share status updates, photos, web and blog links; to like whatever I see as likeable among my friends’ posts; and to intermittently check if friends have liked my own posts, or have sent comments. Is there anything wrong with that? I ask myself many times.

I do pause a few seconds, mulling if a photo or update is worth sharing before I click on the “Post” or “Share” button. And seldom do I contradict the first impulse that has gotten into me of wanting to share a cute photo, or an album of photos from a recent event, and to recall an interesting incident, make a short story about it and share as a status update. Why? Because I want to be seen and heard. I want people to know my thoughts and maybe relate to them. I want to come across as a sensible person, able to communicate well. I want to affect the friends in my fb circle one way or another.

In the end, it’s all about me feeling good that I am able to share a photo, a status, and that some friends, even just a handful of them, expressly and unabashedly hit the “Like” button. There, that always completes the cycle for me. Oh, yes, like most of you, or every one of you, I like receiving many “likes” to affirm the decisions I have made about sharing stuff. But then I realize that the more active I am, the more I share, the less likes I get. Well, understandably, even my family gets tired of seeing photos of my children, or the random photos I take and share on Instagram which interfaces with fb.

To counter the negatives that have been hurled at Facebook, I would like to count the reasons why I am staying on it and actively using it.
  1. It connects family and strengthens the ties to third-degreee relatives (even up to fourth-degree relatives or a whole clan even). It defies distance, the weather, zonal times.
  2. It takes me places, lets me into personal spaces of family and close friends.
  3. It has unearthed friends and classmates long unseen, but not forgotten.
  4. It provides an avenue for interactive exchanges through its built-in chatting, messaging, and commenting platforms.
  5. It is a go-to repository of best photos posted through the years. No need to sift through thousands of pictures in your iPhoto library or your MyPictures folder. If I need to quickly find photos, I just go to fb. Facebook's timeline feature saves me time locating the photos I need. My photo library is too expansive because of repetitive shots and duplicate files owing to the click-happy photographer. Bygone are the days of printing photos and filing them in big photo albums.
  6. Unintentionally, I think it somehow promotes literacy, and educates users on correct grammar. Although it helps give birth to new slangs, jejemon lingo, urban-coined words, and the likes, it behooves users to be more conscious of the words/phrases/sentences they post because, in the end, one’s posts tell much of the person behind it. Thanks to fb, it has “edit” and “delete” functions.
  7. I can think of many more specific uses of and positive things about fb, like the elderly overcoming their fear of the computer (laptops, desktops and tablets) and smart phones to take to fb and connect with family, to see grandchildren living miles away. And so on…
  8. Let’s not forget that Facebook, along with other social media sharing services, can be used as a tool to organize people for a cause, to enjoin people to help, and cause a stir powerful enough to review, affect and even change political systems.
Now, let me shift gears to focus on the downside of Facebook. Related to “Facebook fatigue” is what they call “Facebook envy.” Studies have suggested that some users get depressed and feel discontented with their lives seeing friends’ photos of happy vacations, of hearing happy news of weddings, childbirth, job promotions, etc. They say Facebook is a polished version of a person’s real world and circumstances. It is an idealized, edited version designed to make a good impression on others. They say a Facebook profile is a half-truth. It is what you imagine yourself as being, as having, it is not the real you. Crap!

I’d say that there is truth in all that crap. But, then, as adults can we not put things in perspective? Can we not put our hang-ups about life in check? Why be envious? Yup, I feel envious, too. But that feeling of being envious is overcome by a feeling of thankfulness for what I have. I am reminded to count my blessings and be happy for others and always wish them well. Think along the famous lines of Desiderata, and keep in mind that each individual is fighting his or her own battles at some point. You wouldn't want to burden your friends with your problems, would you? So it's better to keep to a minimum shout-outs filled with bad news and rants. Or rant if you must, but redeem yourself in the end by sharing lessons and useful information.

Do I keep up appearances? To some point, you might say that I do. I do not, in general, share unhappy events and photos that are not pleasant to look at. There is already so much pain and negative energy out there. Why add to it? Why encourage and ride on the negative vibes? Let’s learn from babies who smile at beautiful things and cry when presented with the opposite. Well, just my thoughts... I'm entitled to my own, right? Tee-hee! 

What you share on the social network site is entirely your own decision. I would respect it. The times call for respect, tolerance, and sensitivity. The way we conduct ourselves in this cyber world should of course be informed and guided by unwritten rules and standards of what is good and bad, what is moral and not. Let's think about that, and hold back when our conscience dictates so, and share and post away if our hearts tell us so.

Facebook to me is a work of a genius. To a layman like me, what it does is nothing short of magic! I am staying for the long haul, and would not quit unless there is a “very” serious threat to my privacy and security.

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