A friend of mine, Nalini, once observed: “Facebook is more like going to a big party. You have these islands of conversations. You can choose when you want in. Almost everything is treated trivially including clicking and joining the most serious of movements. The best part is that you can exit without having to give the host any excuses!”
Back in 2008, I was one of the last to join this big party. And, that was only because some very persuasive friends had their way with me, what with wanting to play ‘Poke’ and ‘Superpoke’ on FB. Not surprisingly, I have not used any of those features till date.
But, even after creating a very insignificant FB profile, it took me a year further to actually get active on it. I was busy concentrating on Twitter then. Twitter was amazing; it had very interesting articles and videos. It was a window to much perspective on the hot news of the minute. Overall, Twitter offered me a platform to happily remain an observer, amassing knowledge, with no performance pressures.
I am not exactly sure when the transition happened. It must have been the winter of 2009-2010. I had just got back from a vacation and wanted to share the photos somewhere. You know how it is with these sites. You share something, then someone comments, you comment back, then you go to their profile to see what’s happening in their life and so on. I started dancing in the ‘party’ then , as Nalini would call it. I graduated from being a mere observer to an active participant, posting and sharing, liking and commenting. It would have been great if it had remained so. After all, who does not like partying once a week?
However, once I started dancing, I was not able to stop. I updated irrelevant and arbit statuses day in and day out, snooped around people’s profiles, took more pictures when I went somewhere just so I could upload them on FB. My life started revolving around FB. And, simultaneously, my Twitter activity declined alarmingly. Now, I hardly log on to Twitter anymore whereas I am forever hooked to FB.
Does this happen to everyone? Is it very difficult to concentrate on more than one social networking site at any given point of time? And, does usage of or inclination towards a particular social networking site really reflect the kind of person one is?
My constant presence on and participation in FB tells me that I am attention craving at the least and self-obsessed at the worst. I like the accolades on my smartness, intelligence, outgoing nature, fun quotient etc. I like being in the news (or, rather, being the news) all the time.
On the other hand, if someone is very active on Twitter, it might actually mean that they genuinely like following current happenings in the world. They also might like showing off their knowledge to others, but might not need external assurance on their capabilities. Just a ‘Re-tweet’ could be enough to make them happy.
I am sure there are a lot of ‘mere observers’ on FB too, and many, many people who use Twitter to share personal rants and cribs. However, it is easier to be tempted into becoming a participant on FB and much easier to be left ignored when ranting on Twitter, for there are not too many avenues to ‘Like’ and ‘Comment’ there.
If FB is a party, Twitter perhaps is like taking a train ride. You say something. If it is interesting and catches someone’s eye at that moment, it gets a reply and sometimes, even gets re-tweeted. If the bug catches on, it spreads like wild fire across the train. But, it doesn’t mean you have to stay on for it to spread. It makes friends with others and goes on. If it does not catch on, you linger on for some time, re-tweeting and replying to other observations, and then get off the train at some point of time. During days of IPL auctions and football matches, budget sessions and Nira Radia tapes, all the passengers get together for a beer and some discussion. But, mind it, nothing stays on for more than 24 hours, for train friendship cannot sustain longer than that.
I really am done with the party now. I want my train days back. I want to spend some time loitering online mindlessly, not wondering all day how I should perform online. Then again, while I was writing this post, resolving to leave the party, I logged into FB four times.
So, hail FB! With more than half a billion active users and a valuation amounting to billions, my one second, half-boiled rant read by a paltry hundred people is not going to change the popularity of the party, is it?