May 26, 2013

Devil's Advocate: Facebook

FB led me download my whole profile as HTML files in a neat 60 MB archive. Sweet!

When I wrote about Why I am Leaving Facebook, I was told that probably I am incredibly frustrated with FB to be taking such a decision. And it's as true as it can be. 

But here I want to argue that Facebook is not totally bad. It has a number of great things working to its advantage. Otherwise it wouldn't have sustained its growth year after year for almost last one decade. Otherwise, it wouldn't have over a billion people connected to its network. Otherwise, I wouldn't have taken 2 long years to ditch it...

1. Facebook is a great platform to broadcast: There are some things that you want to share only with your close friends. And for that you pick up the phone and call them. Or just tell them in person.  But the other stuffs like your big and small achievements, the places you went and had fun, the awesome anecdote that played out today etc. ; you want to share with as many people as possible. Facebook does an awesome job in broadcasting such stories.

2. Facebook is big: We all know that almost 1/7th of Earth's  population is on Facebook. This essentially means that almost everyone you meet or have met in your life till now, there is a high probability that they will be available on Facebook. No other platform - twitter, Google+, Pinterest- can match its scale. So, assuming you want to be active on a single social network, it makes sense to have a Facebook account  . Another important point is that we humans are not great in 'Letting Go' of anything, be it possessions or people. And Facebook does a great job in giving us at least an allusion that we are in constant touch with everyone.

3. Facebook integrates everything: You don't need to go to different platforms to play casual games, to chat with friends, to speak your mind, to share photos, to participate in groups, to learn more about bands/artists/communities, to connect with like minded people. Facebook provides all that and more in a single place. Who really wants all their online activities to be disintegrated into gazillions of sites which gives an added stress of keeping up with all the accounts and remembering passwords and all.

4. Facebook is great blogging platform: I love blogging! I love to speak my mind (or should I say Write my mind, for the lack of oratory skills!). People do not realize this, but their medium to long-length Facebook updates make a great blog post to read. And I have enjoyed quite a few of them on Facebook. Creating a full fledged blog is a little intimidating and maintaining it requires dedication. Facebook does away with all those obstacles. Of course, we can say that Twitter also does a similar job and probably even better. But Twitter has a 140 char limit, there is only so much you can express within that confinement. Plus it gets incredibly difficult for your micro-blogs (tweets) to get noticed in a torrent of tweets.

5. Facebook is not going anywhere: Every website you visit has a fairly good integration with Facebook. Almost every small/big business and every flourishing artist has a Facebook page to connect to their fans and take their feedback. There have been so many successful online campaigns organised over Facebook in past few months. I am sure Facebook (and other online platforms) is going to play a pivotal role in upcoming elections. If statistics are anything to go by, Facebook is only getting bigger. So, you can be almost sure its not going the path of Orkut or Google Buzz or Myspace or gazillions of other social networks that came and went by. In the end, you will be the one who has to decide to leave Facebook if ever. Facebook, with all its faults, is not going to leave you, ever!

Personally speaking, I had contemplated about leaving FB so many times in the past, but as I mentioned, the lure of being connected with all the friends at one place was too hard to resist.
  • Although I like blogging, it takes time to create a blog post. And there are many things I cannot post on a blog, or are too trivial to require a blogpost. Facebook filled that gap to perfection. If anything, Facebook helped get better in writing and champion my 'weird' sense of humour.
  • There are only a few times you are able to connect with all your friends together. Facebook provided those opportunities in ample amount. I had so many late nights chatting with Facebook friends and having fun. I would forever be grateful for those moments. 
  • Before coming to Facebook I had very stringent rule of thumb about online interactions: 'My online and offline lives are totally different. I must never mingle the two. And I must share minimum details about who I am, how I look and what I do over the internet.'  Facebook led me break this rule quite a lot, and be a little less... socially awkward. But now, I will definitely be missing out a few important details about my friends' life.
  • If I write something, naturally I want more and more people to read it. Facebook provides a ready made audience that will at least notice your writing and probably read it too. And if you are lucky appreciate it (which matters a lot!) and provide feedback (even more important). Sharing the same thing on other social networks is not that effective because of lack of audience. And I find it intrusive to message/email people, asking them to read my creations. So, leaving Facebook would mean having to let go of an easy medium to share my creations.

So, as I said, leaving Facebook is not as easy as I make it sound like. But I guess, this is what I have to live with if I want to achieve what I have set out to do. I have given it a lot of thought and I guess I was right with my reasons for not having a FB account in first placeHopefully, this will be the last time I would talk about Facebook.