Sunday, April 1, 2012

Can we live without Facebook?

“I come from Cyberspace, the New Home of the Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone...” At least, that was the contention from cyber guru John Perry Barlow when he gave the ‘Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace’ back in 1996 encompassing all mystical hopes and potentials surrounding the emergence of Internet- undoubtedly one of the best technological marvel of the twenty first centuries. Over a decade’s past, we now have more than we bargain for of all things connected in the cyberspace.

Yes, the world has become smaller it seems, shrinking into bytes and bits, compressed into the complexity of the dot.com realm. A place of everything or anything can be found by anyone from everywhere at the touch of the fingertips, literally. We’ve become so dependent on Internet that many of us could hardly get on with our lives without it.

From Google to Facebook- the humans have transferred their reality onto another ‘reality’ that is the cyberspace, granting people access to it, interconnected and interactive. You can be in your pyjamas and doing your shopping, you can lay on the bed and pay your bills, you could talk for hours via Skype with friends from across the world with a minimum pay or you can download books in between sipping coffee and catching that latest news online – all done without the fuss of leaving the comfort of your home. These chores that conventionally needed us to physically move around, now goes virtual. It makes our life easier.

But, nothing beats the ingenuity of Mark Zuckerberg’s creation – Facebook. Although, Facebook is not the first of its kind, there were earlier social media networking sites such as Myspace, Hi5 or Friendster; but Facebook’s international stardom arguably the world’s largest and most widespread. Since its inception in 2004, Facebook has seen incredible growth into creating 770 billion page views per month and in 2010 estimations, United States topping the chart for having most active user at a staggering 130 million while Malaysia with 12 million and these numbers are increasing (world statistics.com).

Today, it is so common to have a Facebook account that not having one makes a person committing almost a capital sin in the holy book of societal status. “Wait, you don’t have one? What centuries are you living in?”- One of the many probable insensitive remarks for those who dare to ‘defy’ the societal conformity. That’s how the pressure of digital age has come to when it comes to having a Facebook account. Most people got so hook on it that that is the first sites they log into when turning on their computers or worse, when they wake in the morning – with so much excitement to answer the one question from Facebook which is “What’s on your mind?”The answer will be posted as ‘statuses’ for the account holder. It has become such a rage, that many cracked their minds to come up with ‘attractive’ statuses with hopes of triggering high numbers of comments and likes from fellow Facebookers. Every other minute thing you possibly imagine is posted, informing the world to see. Some become such addicts, that they even log in Facebook while in the restrooms to pass time. Others only consider buying new gadgets if it has Facebook apps.

Your societal esteem are being perceived (or reduced) in terms of how many friends you have, how many accounts you own, how many comments you get every time you post something be it in pictures, videos, statuses, or notes. Facebook has surely changed the way we live our lives. It’s so convenient and all encompassing – from being a diary, to calendar, societal status yardstick, business platforms, finding soul mates, a money saver for those on tight budgets to send off wedding invitation cards, tool for staying in touch or rekindling old friends (or flames?) and the list goes on. Then, there are the privacy issues. People that are your friends get infinite access to your private lives. But, luckily Facebook allows us to mend these privacy issues with quaint applications to restrict or block any users that we wish.

Facebook has indeed taken the world by storm. However, with so many networking sites that have become ‘fossilized’ in the past (Friendster now is a gaming network with avatars replacing your face!) one wonders if Facebook is just another fad.
Whilst it is growing, many early Facebookers have ‘moved’ to another micro social media networking sites namely Twitter. Boredom been cited as main reasons these once Facebook ‘loyalists’ defection. Hence, the question arises: Will Facebook fades away or stays? For the cynics (or maybe they just haven’t tried Facebook) they might be pessimistic for the future of Facebook. To the avid users, those who cannot seem to live without Facebook, may wish for the sites to stay on running forever. But, one thing remains for a fact- technology is ever changing the same way media consumption’s changing.

Before the prevalence of the Internet, people relied on the conventional way as tool of communications. And just like every other media, there is always good and bad to it. For that, it boils down to us- as the end users to choose and use wisely the many social networks we can sign up to, and in the case of Facebook – brace for a future without it and no, you won’t die if Mark Zuckerberg finally decided to shut down the sites- then again, that is unlikely as his creation reportedly valued at $100 billion IPO by Wall Street Journal last July.

PS: This was something I wrote at the request of my younger sis for her application on something. It was somewhere around late last year, but I decided to put it up here just because...I can.

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