Are you on facebook?

Tech Talk

Are you on Facebook? That’s a question that’s become almost as mandatory as saying “How are you?” A seemingly ‘just being friendly' question, but one that’s hidden with the potential to unleash you to the questioner’s world of guarded curiosity. For when you answer ‘yes’ to that one, you then fall prey to his potential to be your friend for life. Not just that, you lay yourself open to his knowing all your  well-guarded secrets like what your spouse looks like, how your kids have grown, what you do, what you have never done, the countries that you have been to, and how boring or exciting your current lifestyle is …!

‘Being on Facebook’ is a statement that says you are ‘in’ on the current trends, you have a lot of friends and you are a social animal with a vengeance. It’s a statement that says which social circuit you currently are in, where you orbit and what stars are in your constellation.

You will allow all and sundry to peep into your profile page, check it out and decide if they would like to know you better. Are you single and ready to mingle or are you married and unavailable; what are your sexual orientations; and what’s the exact purpose of your being in this book: is it to make friends, or is it to find your future soul mate and procreate and while doing so, it’s also by the way, a good platform to announce it to the rest of the world and show them what your infant looks like, in his first week on this planet. 

Shrink service
Like I said, it serves a lot of purposes. If you’ve been on a foreign holiday, let the world know that you are filthy rich; if you’ve just got a tattoo done let them know you are adventurous; and if you’ve just thrown a party you can tell the world who came, what you wore and what they ate. You’ll be flooded with a whole lot of ‘comments’ about how nice you look, how pretty your outfit is and how thin you are. All manna for the deprived soul. The compliments you receive from a single photo can wipe out years of insecurity, inferiority complexes and past traumas about your appearance. In fact, shrinks will soon be out of business, because the outpouring of love and compassion you receive from your virtual friends will lift your spirits for life, and never make you feel lonely again.

Facebook has its moments. Like the time you reconnect with that little gawky girl who sat next to you on the second bench in standard two. Is that her? Thirty years down the line you meet up virtually with the classmate who stole all your secrets and lent you her scented eraser. That’s her. Now with the lines and blemishes on her face and the strands of grey, she’s a mother of 2 teenagers and is busy balancing a flourishing career in New York or Hyderabad as the case may be. It’s her and the bonding and yearning to meet her is just the same as the other day, 30 long years ago. That’s precisely when you google the name of the founder of Facebook and send up a silent prayer of thanks for him.

Headhunting paradise
Why it’s also a great place for job seekers. Just add a few CEOs and MDs of firms in whatever line you’re in, and make them your ‘friends’ on Facebook. Then in the “what’s on your mind” (your status) space write innocently, “So fed up of my job, dying for a change” and hope the right guy gets to read it and gives you a call. Better still, drop him a note in his personal inbox which, mercifully, you don’t have to share with the whole world and let him know that you are “looking”. No wonder recruiters are going out of business and jumping on to Facebook too! 

It is also quite happily, a great workplace distraction. Almost everyone in your office, from bosses to subordinates, will be on Facebook. What this really means is that while you are happily ‘Facebooking’ instead of working, your boss is pretty much doing the same, hoping that nobody notices. Only, there is a little give away green button that announces that you are ‘live’ on chat. Very soon employers may add the line, “Those with Facebook accounts need not apply.”    

Age is just a number
And about that generation gap, there ain’t any on good ol’ Facebook. Your daughter’s friend will happily add you as her friend if you merely send her a friend request. You will then get a peep into her private world of friends, boyfriends and parties all of which she will casually share with you. If you are a lucky parent then your son and daughter too will accept you as a ‘friend’ (my daughter did, but my son wanted his ‘space’). Yipeeeee! Is there a nicer, more discreet way to keep a tab on your offspring?

My daughter casually cautions me from time to time when she feels I am crossing the line of Facebook ‘good behaviour’. Never, never make nasty comments even if you hate a particular friend.  Never show off. Never ask inquisitive questions like ‘when are you getting married’ and don’t write on anybody’s ‘Wall’ unless it is absolutely necessary. Don’t be seen too often, otherwise people will think you are one of those jobless people. Never post pictures of friends that could be embarrassing to them, and if you do, refrain from ‘tagging’ them. If you are a parent then please resist writing on your childrens’ ‘Wall’ how much you love them and please don’t tag them in baby pictures where you are changing their nappies when they were little! 

My daughter, who visited the Facebook office in Palo Alto,  was amazed at the informality of the place. The office has no cubicles, the employees wore jeans and flip flops and were treated to fabulous meals. One of the ‘perks’ is having your clothes collected and dry cleaned for you and delivered the next day! Flags of all countries are displayed around the workplace to show  that they are a global organisation. She met with the director of talent management who chatted with her! And she left with a Facebook sweatshirt and book. With 250 million registered users, if Facebook were a country it would be the 6th most populated in the world — all built on the simple insight that man is a social animal! So if anyone casually asks, ‘Are you on Facebook?’ remember they are actually saying, “Can I share all your secrets, pal?” My daughter, who wanted to be the first one to write on my ‘Wall’, put it so eloquently, “Welcome to a world where you trade your privacy for a virtual presence.” You may want to think about that one.

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