It’s the dawn of the 20th century. If we pick two homo sapiens on earth, we can classify their relationship as one of these three types:
- An Acquaintance (Both of them are acquainted with each other)
- Unfamiliarity (No one knows about the existence of other)
- Celebrity status (One of the two is famous)
Today is the dawn of the 21st century. And every day in my college I meet few people who fall in none of the three types.
Every day I see people on 2.2, whom I know by face and name, as well as they know me and my name. But we don’t stop to say, ‘Hi’
These are my pseudo-acquaintances whom I got to know from Facebook.
Here is the deal. Somewhere in the data centers of Facebook Inc, there is a matrix which stores the connection between two nodes, and the edge value of those people and me is True. There have been numerous CSS divs containing strings which either they or I have written, which got a click from the other, sometimes a further div of “comment” as well. Somehow, subconsciously my brain understood that a person and I had interacted a whole bunch and thus we are friends. But when the same mind physically spots them in public, that same person for the first time in months, there is no surge of emotions to go and talk to them.
I know someone on Facebook, I “interact” with them, but I don’t speak with the same passion or eagerness to them in real life, using flesh and bones. For me, it is terrifying. What if people eventually stop using their mouth for conversations because Whatsapp and Messenger let them use that gif meme to convey more efficiently. What if we discover some other app or platform to express ourselves in the best way which is different than meeting the person and using our mouth, eyes, face, hands or smile to express?
And the fact that the first world countries already have incorporated a bit of this culture, raises merely questions about parenting. What if we are not concerned about our children, and the first friend they make, do not physically exist around them. I am surely, not saying one is better than others; there are so many pros of the Scientific Revolution, Internet being a tiny monster of it. I am just saying that, are people responsible? Is Facebook responsible enough to know that it has created an illusion of friendships and relationship and does it care about it? From the weekly product and feature launches, for the sole purpose of us interacting more on their platform, and increasing their value as advertisers and not looking up from our phones, I think it does not care at all. Or is it in control of anyone to care about it? Something like a trained Deep Learning model, over which we only have very few control after some time.
This article above was an email to a few close friends, right after I realized my first pseudo-acquaintance. I am thankful to their responses, they made me rethink every bit.
It has been quite long since I joined Facebook.com and I have spent a lot of time with the product. I have met and stayed connected with a lot of people using this platform, and therefore, I am probably thankful for it. However, here is my current setup, as of now:
- I don’t use the product ‘news feed’. I use a version of News Feed Eradicator.
- On the phone, I do not have the Facebook app and I use messenger with the setting where I do not receive any notification (interrupts) but I would instead open the app to see if there any new messages.
The last thing that I want to say is that there are mostly no good and no wrong sides. As a human, we always have to use our discretion and find something in between. Hence I can not blindly delete Facebook to solve this problem, I’ll have to see the way to use it for my productivity, as long as it doesn’t consume a lot of my time to do that.
Update, I deleted my Facebook account.