Facebook – Second Earth or Multi-Reality?

I think it is time for all those business entrepreneurs and investors out there in India, to think twice before looking at blueprints of yet another swanky multiplex, a Barista outlet or yet another Mocha café. All the popular youth hangouts in the country seem to be in grave danger of downing shutters for eternity.

And to think that all this hullabaloo is for the simple reason that the Indian youth have found an alternative reality zone to hang out. However, it is not the newest café or a lounge on the block. Rather it is the innocuous Facebook. Yes, I am talking about the social networking site which, unlike the meteoric rise of Orkut, has steadily risen to the top and currently commands a database of lakhs of diehard Face-a holics.

Now one does not need to call up a friend to check out what he is doing. Rather check out his latest status message on Facebook and you will probably get a much better idea! Do you really want to find out whether your best friend is dating your childhood sweetheart? Well then, you need not bother calling her up to quiz her about it. Just check out her relationship details in her Facebook profile. Does this whole shenanigan sound rather unbelievable to you? Then you obviously have not been initiated into the ranks of the average Facebook zealot. Some diehard Face-a-holic will probably tell you, that the best thing about Facebooking, is that other than mere networking, one can play numerous games, take personality type quizzes and fiddle around with zillions of applications to while away the time. Also with enhanced privacy settings, Facebook is the perfect choice for those folks who like to keep their lives to themselves and not subject it to the prying eyes of strangers.

However, after a point, it is rather frightening to notice the stealth with which Facebook has crept into the lives of the youth and made it indispensable to them. For most Facebook users, it has come to be the ultimate manifestation of their social life and not just a mere fragment in the process of socialization. At this point, anti-paranoia skeptics might say that that in the distant past, these same fears had been voiced about Orkut, but which had ultimately remained unfounded.

Again, it muse be noted in the case of Orkut, the burnout was inevitable. This is because, from the very onset, Orkut had limited itself to being a mere networking site and nothing else. There were only a limited number of functions that one could carry out on the Orkut forum. It was limited to scrapping, and posting the odd opinion on the numerous communities. With Facebook however, it is an entirely different story. There are numerous applications and games coming up every day. Every single moment there is some new quiz to take. It is like a space exploration journey into infinity! Even Orkut has followed the emulation path to successfully introducing a whole new set of applications, in a desperate bid to counter Facebook’s rise to the zenith.

To be honest, Facebook is gradually cutting down the instinctive human need for face to face interaction. And the funny part is that nobody seems to mind! Now unlike the zealots, a self confessed Face-a-holic will not even contemplate advising others to stop using Facebook. It is unthinkable. And the very fact that it is unthinkable is what makes the entire scene so frightening. It would perhaps be a prudent thing to apply the brakes while there is still time and ask ourselves as to whether we really want to “Face” the day when little children shall read out from textbooks which shall say that man is a “Facebook-ish” animal.

Rudrani Dasgupta

[Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/luc/1824234195/]