Alumni Story – Life in Facebookland! 

Social media, particularly Facebook, has made an impact in our life and it seems to be an integral part of today’s society as well. While there have been quite many negative consequences from social media, for example, cyberbullying and other dangers related to online media in particular, social media can also be used in ways to promote productive and positive ideas and changes in the society. If those ideas are used correctly then these positive behaviors can make social media an invaluable tool.

Dhanashree Shirodkar, PGP 2013, is currently an analyst with Accenture Consulting. Through her article on “Life in Facebookland” she highlights on the ‘impression management’ on Facebook. We tend to believe things at face value. So if you view someone’s post on Facebook or you see a trend, then you tend to apply that particular trend to your life. Facebook does not reflect anyone’s real life, honestly!

Life in Facebookland! 

In the year 2004, a new planet named Facebook was discovered by a guy named Mark Zuckerberg. Mark discovered this from his Harvard Dorm Room. Anybody from any corner of planet earth could be a member of Facebookland. All he/ she needed was an internet connection and an email id/ phone contact no.

So why would anyone want to co-exist both on the earth and on Facebook? Facebook allowed people from 2 corners of the earth to communicate with each other. All they needed was a Facebook post/message.

Everybody had an amazing life on Facebookland. A nice fancy wedding, a nice honeymoon, cute kids and exotic foreign holidays every year. Suddenly sadness in personal life seemed to have disappeared. I once met a friend of mine to congratulate her on her fancy wedding. She started crying inconsolably and told me she was getting divorced. This was within 6 months of marriage. No sadness status posted on Facebookland. A week later, I see happy pictures of her solo trip to Bangkok. What do I infer? In our one- on- one conversation she expressed extreme sadness, whereas in Facebookland she portrayed herself as extremely happy. Why this impression management? As I spoke to more and friends on Facebookland, I discovered a common thread. There was a compulsive need to appear happy and successful all the time on Facebookland. It seems like there is a daily competition on Facebookland to appear as happy, smart, world traveller and what not. Life realities do not have much place here. Whether you love each other or not, a cute romantic anniversary dinner pic is a must on Facebookland. The Great Wall of FacebookLand was meant to communicate with people not in your physical proximity. But now there seems a need for a birthday wish to your husband to be shared on the Great Wall of Facebookland.

Why would any rational being want to do all this? I think one reasoning for this is – right from childhood we all crave for attention. In Facebookland, our circle gives us that attention. But we also forget that our attention is getting sold to Facebookland. The more time we spend on Facebookland, the more likely we are to get influenced by it. It sort of becomes our environment and all of us get influenced heavily by our environment.

FacebookLand amplifies our feeling of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). No matter what you are doing, someone else is holidaying in Europe, someone else is watching a movie etc etc. This makes you feel inadequate. In such times it’s worth remembering the economics concept of opportunity cost. Why you chose to do something is because in your opinion – doing that things brings the largest benefit to you. There is also an opportunity cost of foregoing the second best alternative.  But since you can do only one thing at a time, you will do the best possible thing.

On the positive side, Facebookland provides for easy sharing and exchange of ideas and opinions. You can now voice and support causes on Facebookland. Though, that’s not as same as on the ground work, it still helps.

Edward Bernays, the father of modern Propoganda has said “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in the democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of the country.” Facebookland, in today’s world is one of our invisible government. The wisdom lies in not running away from it but being aware of the biases and influences Facebookland has on us.

“Lewis said Alice in Wonderland

Mark said life in Facebookland

Where being at the airport was a check in 

Restaurant eating meant selfies clicking

Wedding meant a photoshoot thing

Photos are the new in- things

Looking good is a must have thing

Appearances matter, reality doesn’t think

Everyone’s having an awesome life me-thinks

Facebookland is meant for the happykings

Yourdost says we do counselling

Line of people to seek help mind boggling 

Wheres all the happiness in Facebookland disappearing

Deep inside the heart, a sadness is lingering

Appearances matter is the new calling

To who does it matter, Why does it matter

“Public Sab Jaanti hain dost”, stop this Facebookland banter”