Last year when in March, I quit my Facebook account, little then I knew that exactly after a year Facebook founder would be testifying before the congress. There was nothing new in hearing how our data or better I say “We” are being used by all social networks. Social networks as a concept were supposed to keep all of us in touch, to reconnect to those lost contacts (just because we stopped calling each other after a while), and to share some of life’s moments with those we care about the most.
I still remember that I had opened my Facebook account using my official email address, as one of my friends had sent me an invite to my company’s email address and I wasn’t even aware of what Facebook was all about. I didn’t research and just signed up. I might have not used it for few years after signing up. Gradually I started getting friend requests from the people I might have talked once or twice. Being introvert I was not comfortable at all with getting such friend requests as I would wonder how come I be friend with the person I hardly have talked once or twice. I would talk in my mind about why the hell would I share my social profile with him/her, we are not friends! Still I was not using the Facebook as I would be at work most of the day and would just go to sleep right after the dinner.
Once in a while I would update my status with some famous quotes, or may be upload my niece’s photographs. I was not yet into searching for the people I might have known at some point in my life, as there was not any curiosity to dig into others lives at all. I was even very shy to even show off my pictures to the people I knew very well. Over the time I learned that on Facebook friends does not actually mean close friends but one adds acquaintance and sometimes even strangers also. When I quit I had some 200+ family, friends and acquaintances, and believe me for an introvert who would feel awkward in face to face conversations, this number is huge.
There were many positive changes I found in myself after using Facebook for years, like I could keep in touch with relatives, friends, colleagues who changed jobs, or the close people who moved abroad. Otherwise after a while we lose contacts when we stop calling each other. I could know which of my friends is doing what, moved where. I could either wish them in their good times or try to heal when possible in bad times.
Over the time I started posting and commenting about political, religious opinions. Sometimes I felt offended and many times I saw people getting offended. Soon the platform which I was thinking helping me to connect and share things with people I love or care about, got transformed into the platform of people’s views and opinions. Everyday the content I found being shared or posted about the most were either political, religious or making fun of the people who might have worked hard in getting to those positions. People were writing and sharing anything and it was easier for them to get away with. Initially it felt that I was voicing my views, but on social media it does not take long to join a herd of headless people. Of course I can choose who to join, but sometimes we never realise if we are voicing our own voice or making a noise by just echoing whatever we have been hearing of over there. Soon I realised I was just wasting my time, after all the views just end up as views and nothing more gets out of them.
Whatever writing skills I have today, all the credit goes to these social media sites, as I used to write a lot about whatever came to my mind in those days, be it the commenting over current issues, getting offended by seeing people getting offended over silly things, what my dog is doing, my poems, where I have been to, experiences about places I visited, and what thoughts I have been having about what is going on, and how awesome it felt after running in marathons. I was feeling literally happy about writing and posting those things, and I used to read funny memes a lot
First time I started feeling a bit scared using social media, is when I realised how the advertisers were tracking my usage. Why the hell I was being showed the same tables and chairs on Facebook, which I actually was surfing into Amazon. Then I saw people getting divided over political wars. Being honest or neutral is not an option, one either supports the government or the opposition. The people having their minds closed would suggest you to have an open mind. I started getting compliments by my Facebook friends about my piece of writings. People meet me and say, “we read that status, you write very well, and sometimes discuss about that in person”. Relatives were asking to post in native language as they could not understand English language, but that didn’t stop them from hitting the like button. Being an introvert I was still confused about the attention my writing was bringing with it, but one thing was sure that it was giving the kicks to write more and more. It was not that I would sit specially and think about what to write about, but the mind would wonder off on its own and as if those thoughts would forcing me to write them down and until then they want let me in piece.
But later few of my observations forced me to consider quitting the Facebook. One thing was sure that I really didn’t like being tracked down by advertisers, which is normal with free usage. I was friend with the people who I had not talked with for years, it was just an obligations having them in my friend list. The people I really care about was actually off the platform, means my family, my dog and few close friends who would prefer rather to talk in person or over a quick call. I was wasting my time by discussing things on social media which would often let my mind wonder off. Most people who were appreciating and liking my writings, carried doing same things even after agreeing to the thoughts I shared, so it was just like watching a movie and carry on with our lives. It felt people were acting and showing off cool by joining the herds, and most of the times they don’t know that they are in the herds. Most scary it became when I came to know about secret admirers, and their stalking. It is nothing new that people do stalk online but it surely does not feel good after knowing you have some.
So in a nutshell, I realised it was changing my personality who otherwise prefers not to disclose or discuss personal things and views, feels happy to have a tea in a lone corner and enjoys being introvert. It is easy to be extroverts online and there is nothing wrong in expressing things. But I didn’t like my personality was getting changed, the writing kicks about the things I didn’t want to write in the first place and feeling stupid after reading and writing about stupid posts and realising my dog deserved that time instead.
It’s been a year since and I have not missed Facebook, I still talk to my “dear” and “actual” family and friends. It gives me mental peace and saves my phone’s battery as well.