Face Off

The biggest suggestion at a recent conference that I attended was not scientific at all, it was "You need to get on Facebook!".

For all my geek bravado, when it comes to social networking, I am still in the dark ages. When it first started on Friendster, and later on Orkut, it seemed rather pointless, juvenile, and silly. I figured - I am more than 20 years old, I have a blog, and a webpage, why would I ever need this? For people who could not set up their own webpages, or upload music MySpace, Facebook, etc. provide useful tools. To me, it looked like another digital time sink.

IMHO, there is little intrinsic value in these networking sites, but all value is due to the snowball effect. I have noticed friends and lab members check their Facebook accounts even before they check their email in the morning. Bizarrely, I was left out of a party invitation because the invitation was not sent on the email group, but on the Facebook group!! Not by choice, but by design - 'If you are not in, you are out'. Party snubs aside, it is time to take this thing a little more seriously.

For certain contexts, it has replaced email and even cell-phone messages. It's true that you cannot possibly email ALL your far-flung friends to know what's going on. Sometimes, you want to just say, "Hi". In a few minutes, you can get a pretty good idea of what your friends have been up to lately. There are tons of pictures on Facebook that are tagged, mostly Patel-shots of the me-at-the-EiffelTower variety. Then I heard about the graffiti wall, virtual gifts, and the virtual happy-hour (where you can invite your friends for a beer). This really got to me and I was a runaway again. I am content with my blog and my mostly static webpages.

But, I now understand that most people don't like to write, or even read what you have written (gentle reader, you are an exception!). Blogging freed tons of people who were simply aching to write and hungry for a space, some space. ( It also released a few that shouldn't have been let out of the asylum.) Alice was right (Who the ***k is Alice? from the Wonderland) - people like pictures. Some bloggers have strict 'no-pictures' policy, but then they are not so pretty. There is something rather inhuman about pages with only plain text than a book or webpage with pictures (some not a lot). Where does that leave a i-love-plain-text kinda person? Into digital exile.

Currently, I am still holding out. Things don't look so good, considering that even my Dad now has a Facebook account. Social networking is not the flavor of month, and now I feel like an ostrich.


Sumedha said...

I got off Orkut because I realized that 'just saying Hi' was kind of meaningless anyway.

It's too easy to leave a one-line scrap on somebody's profile, when you should actually take the trouble to write a longer email, or make a phone call.

Ashutosh said...

The only reason I am still on Orkut is because somehow I cannot shed the feeling that if I do that, I will suddenly be bereft of the whereabouts of 339 "friends", even if I may not even say hi to about 300 of them in the next 10 years.
Facebook is getting a little silly and childlish with all those dumb applications. But I have also noticed the fact that sometimes invitations get sent out only on Facebook; everybody assumes that you would be there, or if you are not, it's not worth inviting you anyway...
I salute you for being able to keep away from this stuff!

Hirak said...

Currently, it looks like the 'high road', but I wonder if it is actually the 'high and dry' road.