I have tried deleting my Facebook account twice now and I have failed.
When you first try to delete your account permanently on Facebook, they give you 14 days to think it over. In that period of time, if you log into your account even once – you get the option to go ahead with the cancellation or to simply cancel the cancellation. And even though I was quite certain of being done with that culture of ‘like and validate’; I couldn’t make myself be done with Facebook. It’s funny isn’t it? How you can get so addicted to something that you cannot stay without it for even a few hours of each day, huh. You, like me, may not be too active on Facebook. People today (especially 20 somethings or more) come on Facebook only to update their profile picture or let people know of their achievements and current situation. We don’t share or comment as much as we used to. At least, I don’t. But yet, the thought of going back to the ‘dark ages’ is scary for all of us equally. Yes, dark ages.
Do you ever wonder how our parents kept in touch with their friends from school or college after they graduated? Chances are, they kept in touch with the real close ones and lost all touch and contact with acquaintances. My mom, recently discovered her old school friends, and quite impressively almost all of her classmates, through what means? Yup, that’s right. Facebook. You should have seen the joy on her face. She was happy like a child in a candy store. Her discovery made it quite clear to everyone around us about how easy life has become because of technologies like Facebook. You rediscover old friends, see what they have been up to all these years and you get back a chance at friendships through the use of social media. That is something that we certainly cannot deny.
But the large part about Facebook’s popularity is the way it has captured the imagination of all age groups. Kids are on Facebook, teens are on Facebook, your mom is on Facebook, grandpa is on Facebook; you are on Facebook. Everybody is on Facebook. Its like one big happy social media family. But allow me to point the very obvious here – if tomorrow some other site comes up that manages to capture everybody’s imagination; Facebook is going to experience a situation similar to a bank run. People will be deleting their accounts left right and centre and Facebook will be left a with a huge load of user database that is theirs to deal with. This situation though, cannot arise until and unless a better, bigger and more interesting platform makes its way into the lives of the people. There are a few websites today like Twitter or Instagram that do have people’s attention captured but they only satisfy a chunk of user needs. Instagram only let’s you post photos and twitter lets you speak your mind but with a character limit of 140 characters. Facebook on the other hand, lets you do everything – including sharing photos of others – without any restriction of any kind. It’s like that cool aunt who let’s you do stupid things and does not judge you for it. And that is why it is so massively popular.
On the other hand, if Facebook were to do away with any of these characteristics or were to limit them; a new player could enter the market and provide more and better to the users, thus effectively taking Facebook’s ground. Facebook could realise its folly and give you back what you wanted but it will be too late. Once the interest is gone; it is gone forever.
Realistically though, we all know that Facebook is led by really smart people and they won’t do anything this dumb.
Another part of Facebook’s popularity is it’s support for the cause of validation. Facebook let’s you get validated at such a higher level that even your own validation of yourself will fail to reach. In fact, if I am not wrong – I think it was started on these solid grounds of validation. You not only get a like for your pictures but also for your opinion. Coincidentally, it was just today that I came across a tweet that advised to compliment the pretty ones by calling them smart and to compliment the smart ones by calling them pretty. (Hah!) On facebook, You get a like for the things you like and you get a chance to impress people far away from you, from the screen of your computers. This was something new when Facebook first started and in my opinion it was Facebook that really introduced the concept.
It may be that the validation culture only started a few years ago but it seems today, an entire generation and their successor, are now obsessed with it. It fascinates me how much people really obsess over likes (I won’t put apostrophe over likes because today that word is more of a noun and a legitimate one at that) and to what lengths they will go to get the approval of others. This is saddening – especially once you realise, that today somebody’s entire day could go bad because they would spend it sitting in their rooms and obsessing over how many people have hearted (its a slang now!) their pictures on Instagram. If that doesn’t bring the like culture into focus for you – I do not know what will.
Coming back to the reason I write today, I realise that as of now I am partly done with the like culture. I still want a few likes on Instagram but I am completely bored to update my Facebook. Hence I took the very drastic step of deleting my Facebook account a few days back. But the one thing I failed to realise, was that today Facebook is like a parallel world. I recognise Facebook users in real life but it is only on social media that I know who they really are. And I don’t want to give up that opportunity of getting to know people without even speaking to them.
And so I cannot exit social media, at least not Facebook.
P.S- Imagine; tomorrow millennials, when all grow up, will be reminiscing about the adolescent days spent on Facebook on some other more intrusive, more validation inducing more open social media. Won’t that be fun to watch? 😉