Little Less Of Facebook

Somewhere it counts, as ultimately it is the number of users and time spent on their FB accounts that will drive scrip value.

I have been on FB for sometime now. Others keep up with Twitter and Orkut too. When I began, I followed my friend’s list count as closely as stock quotes, while keeping track of others rising statistics. It was competitive. Some mentioned to me, ``you have so many (friends) only, I have many more.’’ There were egos involved.

At that time, actor Ashton Kutcher had more than million-followers in one such networking site. He kept his fans humored by anecdotes and private pictures of his now ex-wife Demi Moore, sometimes in her underwear, as she went about her household routine. My wife would kill me.

For me touching the 100 friends mark on FB was a big day. Today, I am logged with 850 odd people comprising extended family, close friends and others regurgitated from the past. There are many cousins I regularly met until my grandparents were alive, faint acquaintances, some I might have bumped into anywhere, including bank relationship managers and more I just don’t know really.

There was a time I kept digging for people I could add, while my brain brimmed of new and exciting messages to elicit instant reactions. I was disappointed if they did not. As a novelty, I grew a mustache and put up the pictures. I took photos of places visited subconsciously keeping FB in mind. I faked a big smile on a trip to desert state Rajasthan in height of summer, even as my brain boiled. I took a holiday or two extra to keep up with the photo updates

I socialized more and met new people to get them onto my FB list. I answered and re-took innumerable quizzes until my smile or sex appeal matched as closest to Tom Cruise and IQ Einstein.

There was even a brief period when I avoided some friends as they could no longer add to the friend list numbers, while I already knew whatever I might have wanted to know about them, courtesy FB. I requested those who did not FB to start an account right away to get them on my list. Ideally, I should have been paid by the FB promoters for the free branding.

FB did unfold the world of many I interacted in the past and didn’t know about. It was good to know about them until it became all too predictable, like a reality show on TV that has lost its punch. The curiosity about catching up with an old school mate in real was lost. Many ex-colleagues, classmates, might have formed part of my daily routine at some point. But, life moves on and a new bunch of relationships take precedence.

Today I FB barely five minutes a day. Frankly, I am bored. My most interactive option for days is clicking the Like button. The novelty has worn out. I would prefer to wash my car any day without uploading pictures of me washing the car.

In the past, I grew out of pornography. It was no use watching others having all the fun. FB no longer limits my life focus to buttressing my online profile with pictures, achievements and good times.

On FB, the whole world does the same things --- holding a drink, in the Jacuzzi or at the beach, catching the standard FB moment. Everybody has to have a good time like the Page-3 people; otherwise, the purpose is defeated. You don’t see too many hospital pictures except for newborns, all very cute, as long as the parents get to do the potty washing without uploading the event. How about reporting constipation and loose motions? – Here I sit on the potty the 10th time for the day and it is not happening.

I am tired of looking at pictures of holidays, marriages, the always adorable kids, birthdays, official functions, foreign visits, mum and dad when they were young and grandparents in their youth. Everybody on FB is also an aspiring photographer which is actually credit to the evolved digital cameras.

I am neither Richard Branson nor Vijay Mallya. I guess Twitter works fine for Ashton and celebrities such as Amitabh Bachchan who need the mass attention to keep alive the competitive marketing valuations.

Rather, I risked turning myself into a vacuous Page 3 party person flashing a funny pose or wearing a short skirt on skinny legs and emaciated body to somehow get pass the editor’s muster and onto the papers the next day. On FB one is one’s own editor, which is not the most impartial of situations.

Today, my FB account is more like an online diary automatically updated, should the need arise to get in touch with somebody. This is useful. I may spend five minutes to check out pictures of somebody I know or react to a whacky comment.

I don’t look out for names I may or may not know or send out requests to add to my friend list or take off on an exotic holiday to upload pictures. Showing off on FB can only be a virtual high. I prefer to wash my car any day without putting them up. It’s good to be real and a little sedated.

(Siddharth Srivastava is a New Delhi-based journalist. He can be reached at