Social Media: Friend or Foe ?

The answer - I don't know.

Disclaimer: This post is not related to rescue directly. But it will point you to rescue related posts if you read on. It however might be an interesting read anyway, and I would love to hear your  thoughts.

Very recently, I deactivated my Facebook account. I don't know if or when I will return to join the circus.  I thought I would miss it you know? I thought I'd have the jittery fingers, the irate reactions, the withdrawal headaches and all that fun stuff and finally succumb to the Social Media giant and it's invincible-ness (word? no.). But I don't. I honestly do not care, and it feels great. Kahlua still has his account, but we have signed in once in the last week amidst battling Turbo Tax to file our taxes one night because face it - that stuff gets boring quick.

Ofcourse there are a million pros to Social Media. Specially in the world of animal rescue where the power of the FB share can mean life or death for a shelter dog. (Other ways to help are Transport, Donations, Volunteering, and more..). And, I cannot emphasize enough what it means to have Social Media at your disposal when you live 10,000 miles away from your family, and your closest friends are scattered all over the world. If I do rejoin the bandwagon, it will be for these two reasons.

But I have a theory on how things like Facebook can affect your psychology and your mental health and I shared it with some of my colleagues this morning and they too had great inputs. It was great having a conversation about the world of Social Media with an intelligent group of technically sound and well informed people, most of whom have college degrees in something related to computers and programming, and see that they too share similar concerns.

First off, kids. They no longer go out to play. They do not experience other kids, fresh air, a football, a frisbee or whatever other strange object that might bring amusement. I don't think its healthy mentally and physically to be constantly battling flying creatures with some vivid high tech gun or well lit sword and calling it a game. (Please excuse my lack of knowledge of games - the only thing I ever played was Super Mario, and Tetris. Even today, my very close  to new Nintendo Wii is used about once a year to play Tennis when my overseas friends visit and we have had a few too many and then some more.).

Next, adults. How many 'friends' do you have on FB ? How many of those actually call you - yes, how many actually use that phone to make a real phone call on  your birthday ? And I am bad at this myself. Very. I had also become of the frame of mind that wishing someone on FB, was what made it official. Just like wedding invites these days. I think it's cheesy to have your wedding as an 'Event' on FB. Yes, I do, and you can judge me for it.

More, adults. What's your FB personality ? Oh come on, we all put our best paw forward on FB ! We all showcase the best events in our life - weddings, babies, puppies, trips abroad and all the good stuff. I am guilty of this too! My colleague had a very interesting theory of how this can affect one's audience, for the worse. People tend to compare these 'FB lives' to their real lives, and might tend to feel worse about themselves. It's easy to forget that people are on FB who they choose to be on FB. They choose to showcase those events. This does not mean that they have the most perfect, most beautiful lives that their Timelines show!

Even more, adults. Would you really, and I mean in the offline world, be aware of what 400+ people say or think? Would you really have that much connectivity, that much insight into someone's 'comments', 'likes' or other such preferences ? No. Should you care what they think, now that you do because you are on FB? No you shouldn't. But you do! Because you are human. So yes, if someone was rude to you on FB, it might affect you negatively even if this someone is not someone you really care about in the real life. I guess my point is there is all this extra baggage that you wouldn't otherwise carry. FB wars, Cybercrime, all that good stuff.. ! You become party to all this because of your constant online presence and accessibility.

I honestly believe that we are slowly and knowingly (yet, ignoring-ly) moving toward some sort of crazy online world domination. Like being in a Sci-Fi film where the major Social Media and Search giants of today, will use all of this information to control our every move. And I am not sure there is a solution. I am not even sure that this is a problem. Weird much ? I don't know. Maybe it's what's supposed to happen - like evolution ?

The best part about being offline, I think happened to me today. I got news that it was someone's birthday and my offline self had to get her phone number to send her a text message to wish her. And you know what? I absolutely LOVED doing it.  And I am sure there is more to come :) It's already begun, with personal email exchanges, phonecalls, and whatsapp messages from overseas. One on one meaningful conversations. No extra unwarranted comments etc.

Alas, the bittersweet symphony here is that I can't share this post on FB, which was where about 90% of my traffic came from. Still, I'm hoping people will somehow find this and it will strike a chord somewhere.


  1. I do agree! I get rapturous and have instant crushes on people who say they don't have a facebook account.

  2. Hmm .. With regards to kids and the existing generation of children and teens, I don't think we can hold them to our way of doing things anymore.

    I recently watched a Ken Robinson TED talk in which he described how the notion of sitting and reading a book and even wrist watches are alien to the younger generation because they haven't seen a world without touch screens and Facebook.

    I completely agree.
    If we guys cannot fathom a world without personal scooters / cars or TV or radios (out parents did) - how can we expect these kids to imagine a life unplugged?

    1. Yeah I get that ! You are correct.. and part of this post is also because I am getting old! haha!
      I just feel like this is all not healthy- just mentally.
      Just like maybe our parents and their parents may have thought that it's unhealthy to have our cars and scooters because then we have less physical work to do to move from point A to point B.
      They were also right. But the world still changed.

      BTW - Saurabh the comment looks like it's been written by two people. Did you and Pritika both comment in the same comment ?

  3. Hah, you sign off and i tried to start using it, under assumed personality. Still didn't like it. At all. I did disable all notifications, and only talked about the weather and the generalities of establishing a new abode in far-away lands. So then, what is the point of having an account. Well, perhaps staying connected to those peeps that aren't with me here...
    But really, I should follow your example. And I just did. Poof, Susie isn't doing the fb dance any more. you know what. I will sit down and write you a letter. How about that?

    1. Oh you are so sweet :) I love your letters! Rajeev panicked and texted me the other day asking why all his friends were disappearing off FB ! :)