The decision to abstain
This medium is splitting me up. Carving out different personalities. People call it the mob, and I’ve been terrified by the mob. Only I didn’t think my innocently accrued friend list could conjure the mob’s twisted darkened plots.
I’m 26 years old and have a moderately active Facebook account, moderate by relative standards. This statement, loses its meaning every other day when three unknown people shower me with friend requests. When it happened for the first few days, weeks and months, me unaware, fell into the pit hole dug by a shrewd, cunning guy. Once warned enough by pestering signs festering into turbulences, I stopped accepting the requests. In spurts of rage, triggered by the medium itself, I’ve unfollowed scores of people, yet the meaningless barrage of irrelevant material on my newsfeed never seems to stop. So much so, that when a relevant post does present itself, my excitement shows no bounds. What is a relevant post? you ask!
I believe the mob leads a pretty meaningless life, a life devoid of purpose; thriving, sustaining on provocation, As societies become more peaceful, the mob grows more restless, looking for its vengeance. Accumulating in numbers, humming quietly in the dark. The graphical representation of this, and I only interject my chain of thought since nothing exists beyond graphics on Facebook, to bring up the representation of the infected people in the popular Will Smith movie, “I Am Legend”. Can you imagine how you would feel walking into that place? That is pretty close to what I feel while going through my Facebook feed every morning these days. I shudder to consider the possibility of a disagreement. As long as I play to the tunes and wishes of the mob, they love me and I would like to end with that thought, but then again, how do you define a relevant post?
A relevant post is graphic in nature. Series of words seem to become increasingly meaningless on this platform. There was a time when inputing statuses, actual text statuses, on your wall was cool. I joined Facebook during this period. I appreciated reading thoughts, letting words play their magic, imagining a few things, missing others. My comments were always the most liked on the threads, just because the pure strain of sarcasm that they brought into the conversation. The mob likes disdain, feeds on it. The mob likes anger, rage and insolence too. For the mob, what was erstwhile a private conversation got opened up because of the opportunity to ridicule from afar, cause if there are 127 people liking a comment, does it really matter what individuality is. As profiles get more closed, as they have on Facebook, the mob grows restless.
A relevant post is one that is created, not shared. A relevant post is created by my friends, and here is where it starts going completely haywire. I today have around 1500 friends on the medium, I must’ve unfollowed or unfriended or both in that sequence at least a hundred people. I cannot have 1400 friends, it just cannot be true. I struggle to find company on a solitary weekend in Mumbai. Friends! My roommate, with whom I’ve been sharing an apartment, who and me have never had a single interaction on Facebook! I never added him as a “Friend” till about a year after moving in, when Facebook suggested based on its brilliant mob aggregation techniques, that I should do so. Who are these so called people that Facebook believe deserve the stars of “Friends”?
A relevant post is interesting. Some thought must have gone behind its creation. And no, I do not secretly despise the selfie, I openly do. The same graphic representation with changing venues is not a new concept. Remember the old photo booths that we used to have at festivals ands fests before the private camera wanted you to shoot pictures of your genitals! The photo booth of yore, had specified slots for you to stand and objects and backgrounds to play around with, sometimes even dresses, costumes and props. After all these years, after hating those marriage videos with the templatized graphics, have we really come back to templatacised photographs, honestly?
Facebook is addictive, is meaningless and it makes me feel un-whole. All these attributes simultaneously belong to at least one other item that everyone is quite familiar with — cigarettes. Plus Facebook has something that cigarettes wish they could have retained. The element of supposed usefulness. For hundreds of years and smokers even today believe, that a smoke helps them, clear their head, think more clearly and focus, amongst other representations of the same thought. Only all of them do know, at least in this day and age, that that is just a heavy pile of horse shit. I inhale smoke, have been doing so for years. I’ve suffered, terribly, painfully and even I still believe it. Facebook has been repulsing me more with every single occasion. Every day I spend out of the bed shitting into this world, I feel Facebook becomes a little less meaningful. While I stare at the feed, on my cellphone, and on all other appendages that I have on me, it makes me wish that I scroll faster and farther; and Facebook never disappoints. The stream keeps refreshing every few minutes, preying on my laziness, my lethargy to be able to sustain an action for more than a few minutes. I’ve been losing the capacity to read longer. I like short stories more than I like fiction novels these days, but that’s not fair, since I read Henry James. Oscar Wilde, apparently wrote just one novel, because words to him reprinted an element of sanctity.
Some time back, I posted on Facebook a status that elicited a few debates, for what is an opinion without it. I mentioned, that it felt like Facebook was constraining the visibility of the written word. I am convinced on it now. Let me share with you though, what provoked this decision to abstain, namely from Facebook.
One beautiful morning, Republic Day, I woke up to a Facebook feed of a beautiful girl posing in red, outside French windows. There were more than a 100 likes at that point of time on the picture, and yet, I couldn’t believe that everyone who had looked at that photograph had truly seen it. Against a judgment that seemed to be quite internal and herein lies the dichotomy of this tale; against an internal instinct, I chose to comment on the picture. The exact nature of the comment is unavailable at this point, I deleted it myself, a few hours later, after three of my friends that I spoke to, mentioned my choice to comment simply wasn’t the best decision I had made. I cannot say that these three conversations or discussions amounted to simply peer pressure. It represented, as I would choose to signify the moment, the calling of the mob. One of the guys was barely an acquaintance, a person, I hadn’t spoken to in years, who just chose to indulge me in a conversation using this as a hook. The other was a girl I had known casually for a while, the third was a close friend whose advice and opinion I seek out. These three people involuntarily or otherwise chose to engage me to convey how this was a fucking horrendous idea.
It’s not often that a girl you know, or have heard about gets compared to nature. It’s even rare for a sunlight stricken morning envy the prize of a beautiful pose. These were somewhat reflective of the the contents of mine on the girl’s photograph. People don’t click pictures at sunrises and sunsets anymore, they click pictures at clubs and homes. This feeling of abrupt discipline encompasses a deep hatred for routine, for the regular, for something as banal as time. What I had hoped Facebook would turn out to be was a pleasurable way of reconnecting or connecting remotely with people that I cared about, that I loved respected and adored, and for people that I had hopes from. However, out of my 1400 friends, I think, I would struggle to put beyond 200 in any of these buckets that I named. So, could you blame me, when I did see one from within the 200 post a gorgeous red picture? My close friend, that I spoke to after the post told me “”Listen man, you wear your heart out on your sleeve and I’ve told you this before, this is the reason why you don’t have a girlfriend. This is exactly the kind of thing that makes women feel you’re creepy.”
Appreciate this reader — your gravest insecurities burgeoning from underneath an identity you created to protect it; the truth slipping by quicker than the future can be told. After the three calls, all that I was left with was a fiery sense of resentment, a change needed not for my personality but just for my public profile. I urge all of you, reading this, to look closely and impartially at your Facebook posts over the years, look more closely at the profile pictures that you have selected and try and decipher why. Since, its almost impossible to do this, save get a friendly, opinion, I would recommend that you do that too! When I got analysed by the mob, it wasn’t fun. I am today at a point in time, where, I need to question my initial response when I see a beautiful picture, instead of just agreeing that its beautiful. The mob got me to delete my comment. I would have thought this unimaginable a few years back. I would have thought the peer pressure affects me not, but this is not peer pressure; this is something else. The mob has been plotting against me, collecting information about me, my life, to retaliate with its presence in such a vicious manner. I know not what the plan of the mob is, all that I know is that they never have a plan.
This struggle had caused this concern. I hope the mob shall listen, but I know they shall not. They are sitting to tear me apart with their teethy claws.