Life without Facebook
As a generation of meme creators and sharers make hilarious jokes about how there’s no question about our personal lives Mark Zuckerberg won’t have an answer to, he seems a bit jaded when it comes to the questions put forward by the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees of the United States Congress. Zuckerberg testified in the first of what appears of be a long string of grilling sessions how, in retrospect, the organization should have been more careful about respecting the privacy of its users. Having had some strong opinions about making internet free and accessible to all in the past, he makes it clear that the question that awaits all stakeholders now is, what the right framework for regulation is and not if there should be one. Also, the overrated “higher purpose” of “connecting people” seems a self inflicted useless reasoning for everything that Facebook does.
Facebook, sure, has some benefits:
- We can create events and gauge the interest of our audience
- We can find like-minded people interested in the same things as we are and build a community
- We can find our long-lost friend from when we were 7 and used to play with in the park outside which is now a mall
- A lot of money and employment is generated through all the businesses operating on Facebook. There probably would have been an economic crisis in its absence
However, since the “Black Mirror”-esque news about the unethical distribution of user data to influence something as big as the US presidential elections among many other data breach incidents has been slapped on the faces of over 2.13 billion users of Facebook worldwide, it has tickled our curiosity to imagine a world where Facebook were to suddenly disappear. Before we all freak out and abandon this article to read our FB timelines just like the morning newspaper, it’s not really happening. We only wish to urge you to ponder about the times when life prevailed without THE intrusive appendage to it.
Do we remember life before Facebook when:
- There wasn’t a compulsive need to HAVE A LIFE
Hanging out at restaurants simply meant catching up with friends or enjoying a great meal. It didn’t involve clicking a million selfies until you’re #blessed with a decent one. There was no compulsion to mandatorily have a ‘life’ and DO things. Weekends could be low key indoor activities that did not require deafening music that nobody enjoys being played over people trying to talk to each other. Not that clicking pictures is a bad thing, obsessing about capturing moments however, can cost us really great ones. In fact, we are hardly ever in the moment anymore. There is always a notification seeking to get our attention deviating us from actually experiencing the life that is happening right in front of our eyes. What’s even sadder is that some of us are living an Insta-lie.
- The primitive marketing mix of companies still got us products that were good enough
No Facebook, just because I checked out the price of a gorgeous trench coat I saw on Beyonce doesn’t mean I can afford one or need one in the 45 Degree Celsius I’m sitting in. Advertisements on Facebook are getting creepier by the day. One moment you are on Myntra looking for a pair of shoes and the next moment all you see on your timeline are shoe advertisements from every vendor ever. How did you even know, Facebook, I wasn’t even looking on your app?! And that too within seconds?! SO MANY QUESTIONS. The trend of taping over webcams that started as a joke about the ‘FBI’ watching the common public at all times might be the indispensable need of the hour. The olden days were good when quality brands used to rise at the top mostly by the virtue of their products and no incessant need to have an annoyingly high brand recall rate ever existed.
- Not every human had a STALKER
Mostly only celebrities did. Those were the days when people used to actually meet and talk to get to know each other instead of running a quick stalking session on their prospective boyfriend’s Facebook timeline before a first date to modify their own personality to fit the situation. This can be seen both in positive or negative light because sometimes it is good to be warned before going out with an alcoholic or a serial dater but most of the times we are robbing ourselves from the chance of building quality relationships that prosper through conversations over time and not through background checks. Also, it was easier to identify true friendships before Facebook came sweeping in to remind everyone about our Birthdays and other big moments.
Added warning: Beware of Catfishers. There are approximately 83 Million fake profiles on Facebook.
- Most NEWS came from reliable sources
Before Facebook, journalism thrived. We had opinions formed on real content. We did not get biased based on targetted manipulative social media feeds. We used to read an actual paper to get updates about the world around us. Most of the information, though somewhat manipulated at times, used to come from trusted channels. Now we look at a screen. Most of the times, we read an article and believe what it says without checking the source of such information. A lot of personal opinions are dispersed on social media platforms with no association to reality whatsoever. People have gotten in trouble for circulating hoaxes of all kinds including un-funny death hoaxes. But that is not the trouble. Everyone is entitled to share their opinions without any restrictions. The trouble is that we believe whatever we see/read online. So much faith and confidence has been placed in one social media platform that thousands of voters can be steered towards a particular decision via use of their personal information. They may see content that they believe is authentic and shape their minds accordingly. Have we given too much control of our mind to an external authority?
Are you also not able to sleep peacefully because you accidentally end up scrolling for hours on your phone before bedtime watching cat videos or probably reading what 30 things should one do before turning 30 and feeling upset that you’ve probably just done 5 and there isn’t much scope for the other 25 happening? By the way, none of that helps in “building communities” as Facebook / Zuckerberg often claim.
And what if you learnt the following,
- facebook listens to your conversations via its messenger app, even if you are not using the app itself
- facebook tracks your friends (through you) who are not even on facebook
- facebook knows how to addict you to use more and more facebook, it knows its bad for you, but still does it. Example, feature of self play video is only to keep you engaged, even if you dont need to. Read this for more, how intentionally facebook gets you addicted. This addiction needs high regulation before we end up screwing further the whole of next generation.
- We end up not experiencing our surroundings, just so we can post on social media or live in the virtual social world.
- facebook benefits from people being sad, outraged, in extreme emotions, as they tend to spend more time and share more on facebook in those situations.
- (Arguably) Black swan events of 2016 including Brexit and trump victory in US elections, happened because of Facebook.
Its time for us to re-think if we really need facebook, or shall we leave it and live a healthier real life.