During my awkward college years of 2002-06, Orkut was then perceived to be THE social networking site. Yahoo 360 stepped up to the table a tad too late (2005), did quite a miserable job and shut shop in 2009. And let’s not even bother with Myspace, which by the way, is now partly owned by Justin Timberlake! How about that? There’s your monthly dose of trivia right there.
During my final semester, Facebook came highly recommended by the folks from United States. I did hear about it being big in the west, and thought it might be a good idea to be part of this before I pursue my masters. So I signed up. Must admit, it was a BIG transition from Orkut. Suddenly, I felt bombarded with features, with a myriad options that let me customize everything. Only later, after getting accustomed to its interface, did I realize how Amish Facebook made Orkut look. And since then it has grown by leaps, bounds and let’s not forget, shares. Orkut did make frantic attempts to catch up. Sadly, those attempts seem to be futile, even with Google’s backing. Their latest offering ‘Plus’ hasn’t exactly blown us away either. I’ve always appreciated Google for their sensibility. Somehow, they don’t seem capable of engaging a user like Facebook does.
Since 2006, my experience with Facebook has been, well, submissive to say the least. The addiction took over during my grad school days. And I haven’t stopped since. I’ve a tab open at all times – during work, at home, even a primitive app on my ancient phone which is now probably worth its weight in material. Over these 5 years, my circle has grown, along with family and fortunately there are better privacy settings. Sure, Facebook is THE place to share things over a virtual rendezvous, but it isn’t just a digital town hall, it’s the very metropolis. And like every major city, it has neighborhoods, cultures and sub-cultures, even. Facebook is where internet memes die and stereotypes are born. And this includes the Indian Facebook demographic too. So, with a discerning vision properly tainted with prejudice and pigeon-holing, allow me to classify the kind of desi faces of Facebook that I see today:
Enthusiastic, beyond logic. This is someone I imagine is usually hopped up on Red Bull, coffee, sugar or maybe even all three simultaneously. They need to have a say on EVERYTHING you post. Rarely subtle with just a ‘like’, they usually leave a comment. And there’s that annoying bit where they join 1,723,984 groups and send 1,723,984 invites, suggesting that you chime in too. They fill those awkward silences when their news feeds fails to scroll down with new bits, with mundane, fly-on-the-wall status updates. I’m still trying to figure out the bedtime for a few of these chaps.
Me, myself and I.
Technically, ‘Drama Queen’ would be a fitting title. But some of you are bound to think it’s sexist. These people are ALL about themselves. Everything they share, post and update HAS to do with their life in some way or the other. Sometimes matching the outrageous frequency of the aforementioned enthu-cutlets, their content primarily revolves around their apparently miserable lives. These include rants about exes and breakups, bosses and weird colleagues, parents… anything that is bound to ruin their day. All they seek is your acknowledgement and attention. They tend to rule over news feeds, posing as vicious depressing black holes. Do not fall for their ruse. It’s easy to ignore, but take them off Facebook and you might just have to face all that drama in real life. Much easier to deal with them online, don’t you think? Facebook is the perfect viewing distance for these needy souls.
Jack of all apps, master of none.
It’s true. This person is here solely for the games and quizzes. And he/she isn’t exactly acing them either. After throwing up all over your news feed, claiming what color, type of pillow, dragon, car or stuffed animal he/she is, they engage themselves in the various games Facebook offers. Like Farmville. Who doesn’t love a virtual farm where you spend hours growing imaginary crops, hatching imaginary eggs and tending to digital pests & poultry? In my previous firm, I had colleagues who instructed their wives to take over the farm while they were at work. Sadly, no one trolls these kinds of people. I guess that would negate the whole purpose of trolling anyway. So once you’re done dodging his frantic invites to have you under their holding within this pyramid scheme, you have spend copious amounts of time to make sure EACH of these apps and quizzes never feature again on your news feed. My suggestion would be taking them off your friends list. They’re not here for human interaction anyway.
“Who?” is a common reaction when this person’s name is mentioned. Sure, you might’ve added each other at some point in the past. But this one is practically a ghost on Facebook. A few of them go as far as completing basic profile information. Updates would be asking too much. They are seldom active and this includes the occasional annual appearance to respond to birthday wishes. Visit their page and one can expect to see cobwebs dangling and tumbleweed rolling by. It’s easier to gain their attention by paying a personal visit and writing on real walls for a change. These are the types that get into memes long after they die on Facebook, unaware of its demise. And yes, you would’ve guessed who they typically are by now – parents or worse, grandparents.
Yes, this is that friend who’s the epic photography nut. Especially common now, since those SLR cameras are all the rage. From random scenes, to feigned smiles, this potato chip on his desk, that paint stain on the floor, there’s nothing this person misses. This guy has his camera dangling from his neck everywhere he goes, documenting every moment. Even if it means recreating it with ridiculously inaccurate poses. And then there’s the incessant urge to tag. There are always a few pictures you just don’t want to be seen in. Maybe it’s one where he catches you picking your nose, or doing a shot, taking a much tabooed drag or worse, with someone in a questionable position. But when all these epilepsy-triggering flashes cease, there’s something for you to take away as well – the occasional kickass profile picture, thanks to our man’s keen focus or auto-focus, depending on whatever that black box is.
It’s impossible to have everyone you know on Facebook fall under the above 5 categories. And they are probably the few interesting ones with whom online interaction alone simply doesn’t do justice. I’ve spent enough time on facebook to form a virtual inner circle. As I’m sure you all have, too. I hate to conclude with a moral and sound terribly clichéd but it has to be said. The fact is, about less than 33% of your Facebook gang are the ones you really concern yourself with. Tweak your privacy settings accordingly. Having everything shared on a need-to-know basis is a handy thumb-rule. And do get offline once in a while. Make sure you’re back with something worth sharing.