Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Facebook Paradox

Social media has become a cradle of paradoxes, lately. I remember an Abhishek Bachan advertisement, for a cellular company, in which the Bollywood actor asks, do you have more friends in your networking site than in real life?

If you have, then you must consider yourself an addict of social media.

Fortunately, the ad did not work too long, and many other versions followed this idea, perhaps, due to the slightly disturbing fact that most of us do have more friends in Facebook or twitter than in real life.

Before a decade, the general consent of public was in favor of the rational thought that revolutions are a thing of the past, and too romantic to be a twenty first century substance. However, the Arab Spring and the Egyptian upraise proved this wrong. Facebook lead a very important mission in these revolutions, other social networks also chimed in. Twitter, Youtube, Google + and Linked In has initiated their own versions of something that can be called cultural and intellectual revolutions.

Youtube made it possible to watch excellent videos free of cost. Linked In made the notion of networking a household thing among job hunters, and Twitter has a feel of simplicity and shortness. But Facebook has what no one else ever thought of bringing into reality: magic.

Frankly, I do not know what I mean, here, by magic. I do not, of course, mean the occult. I mean an indescribable fascination that keeps our attention hooked. I wonder if one counted all the time spent in front of Facebook pages, worldwide, that would make a light year or so.

Image Courtesy: Google
Equally important are the benefits of using Facebook—the promotion it is capable of giving to your books, and your other social activities in the real world. After fifty years from now, take a census and you will be surprised at the number of people whose destinies are profoundly influenced by Facebook.               

At the same time, how can one ignore the paradoxes inherent in the site? “It is curious to observe how easily people are attracted towards negative views and manipulated ideas in social media. It is as if something negative satiates some inner urge. Gory and painful images, nudity, immoral behavior and bad mouthing others get more “likes”, “shares” and “comments” in Facebook.” [From: “Theme Based Writing: A Taboo?”]

A picture of a bloody accident, or terrorist attack or naked woman or man, would get thousands of “likes”. I always wondered whether these “likes” are consents granted by the visitor to a particular page for showing that particular picture, or is it an appreciation of the same. What are we supposed to understand, if the picture of a road accident is given and thousands like it? Is it that they all liked what happened or just liked the photography or liked what happened in other people’s lives? Or is that I liked one of your pictures, it’s your turn to like mine, no matter what?

The questions come and go. Answers never appear.
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