"He had first been excited by Facebook, ghosts of old friends suddenly morphing to life with wives and husbands and children, and photos trailed by comments. But he began to be appalled by the air of unreality, the careful manipulation of images to create a parallel life, pictures that people had taken with Facebook in mind, placing in the background the things of which they were proud." – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
So, I'm reading this amazing book by one of my favorite authors - Adichie. And as always when a book interests me, I make sure to read all the information I can on it. Mostly I lounge around Goodreads which is like a Disneyland for bibliophiles like me. I can spend hours and hours just browsing books over there. So, that was when I came across this quote from Americanah, that I'm currently reading.
I must say it made a lot of sense to me. I felt the quote was speaking right to me. Facebook has turned into such a dumping ground and there are times when simply going over my timeline exhausts me. What is it with the need for validation anyway? There are pictures that I come across from people that I have lost touch with; and as much as I try to be glad that they are having a good time with their vacation or marriage or kids or whatever it is that they are doing with their life, there is no denying the air of unreality around it. It all seems a bit too fake, people seem to try a bit too hard. To convince themselves and the rest of the world that they are indeed living the perfect life. I have no qualms in admitting that I have been caught up in this rat race many a times myself.
Kind of like tit for tat, you feel a sense of wicked glee when you finally post something that you are proud of, or a picture of you having a good time. The likes and comments are an ego boost. But since when did we need the approval of random strangers about what we do or who we are with? Some of the best moments in my life are those that I haven't captured pictures of. I think those are the truly priceless moments in life. It could be a good time spent with a friend when both of you were busy catching up that something as trivial as taking a picture and immediately posting on Facebook wasn't the sole concern.
People are so obsessed over social media these days and are always busy posting or tweeting that it actually hurts to be with a group of people who are all glued to their phones. Um, excuse me, but I would rather be alone at home with my book if you are going to be busy ignoring me or worse yet, pretending to listen when it's clear that your mind is obviously not in it. So, thanks but no thanks. I think I shall pass. Another pattern that I have noticed emerge is a scratch back policy when it comes to Facebook. You like me, I like you back. Sounds harmless enough, right? It would have been hilarious even if people didn't take the whole thing so seriously.
I have seen instances where people squabble and quarrel over silly posts and comments. Seriously, get a life. When it comes to social media, everyone seems to have pretty strong opinions. But come down to reality, I have very rarely seen people who would actually do something for these so called causes that they believe in. Let alone do, they don't even raise an eyebrow when they come face to face with such situations in real life. Hypocritical much?
There were couple of instances when I was on the verge of clicking on the deactivate button on my profile. Unfortunately, too many of my accounts are linked together and as much as I hate the wasteland that Facebook has turned into, it is the sole means of keeping in touch with some of my friends that I don't see or talk to as often as I may like. And not just that, there are so many pages that I follow and updates on books and authors that I keep track of that I wouldn't want to miss out on at any cost.
Facebook will continue to exist for me. The number of likes or comments no longer matters. I took down a lot of my pictures too recently. Like I said, it was exhausting. What little I do post from now, will be only when I really have something to say and not just for the sake of it. My personal life should remain just that- personal. I will continue to use my account to share and talk about all that's close to my heart and that will be about it. Meanwhile, take a chill pill, relax. Make mistakes, live in the moment, grieve when you have to and move on. Life is perfect only on Facebook!