Lessons from Facebook

I created my Facebook account a few years back when I was in highschool. Then I was using MySpace (*cringe), so my FB account was sort of dead for about a year and a half. I had no clue how to use it; it was small in format compared to MySpace, it had something called a ‘Wall’ on which your friends can write on and every time I log in, I used to always receive these virtual gifts (flowers, mostly) from random people. It confused me. MySpace was much easier, more fun and 12-year-old-friendly. Basically it took me a while to get used to it, even after the big ‘migration’ (where MySpace peeps moved to Facebook and magically got the hang of it in a jiffy, leaving me and a few aunties on our own to work our way around. Haha, yes).

When I finally did get used to it, I quickly became one of those people who updated their status not only everyday, but every hour! I was hooked on commenting and posting lengthy messages, updating my photo albums and what not. Though I may cringe now, I am so glad that the one thing I never picked up was the hype of playing games on Facebook. They seriously annoy me. And the requests?! They’re hella annoying. Sorry.

In that same phase, I began posting pictures (not particularly of myself, but of my family, our activities etc) and was overwhelmed by the many ‘Likes’ I received. An example would be a picture of Noura when she was a newborn, getting me over a 100 likes. My notifications went crazy not only because of that, but also because of my lengthy status updates-most of the time with an eye-capturing picture attached. And I’m not even famous. That is the thing about Facebook. I wonder if people actually even read what I’ve written! I learned that a status with a nice picture attached gets more attention and Likes than a status with none. This was beginning to feel like advertising. And the aim of advertising, I’d reminded myself, was to ‘attract the targeted audience’. Unfortunately, about 30% of the friend requests I get are from little kids who are juniors from my school; they probably know me as the daughter of Teacher Sh Haslinda. =.= So most of the time, I suspect that when these kids see my lengthy statuses, (initially only Liked by my own circle of friends, colleagues and teachers (a.k.a adults) who make up about, say, 12 Likes) they too feel the need to contribute to the number and tadaa! -add one more Like. From a 7th grader. Status update was of a rant on human connectivity. After all it only takes a tap on their trackpads to Like an item. To be honest, I get puzzled too when I am notified of little kids Liking my status updates- ESPECIALLY when I’m ranting about something they probably have no clue about. I’m not underestimating the intelligence level of our younger generation, but realistically speaking, their own Facebook profiles prove otherwise- meaning they’re acting their own age, or at least the age I’ve always imagined my younger self to be acting like.

And it was beginning to feel as if you’ve got to constantly ‘feed’ the people on your Friends’ list or else when you post only on certain occasions, you’re very likely to get ignored or get no Likes at all- maybe one or two. But compared to the 50+ Likes you’re used to getting when you used to post regularly, one or two Likes is nothing. At one point, like I said, I was always posting pictures, long statuses, long conversations with my circle of friends for the world to see and all that good stuff to feed the stalking public. It was no doubt fun at first, because it made me feel good that people are actually paying attention to the things I wanted to bring up. When I posted something, I genuinely wanted to share something of quality, of importance, of substantive nature. I used my own words, my own pictures etc. Psychologically, what it does to you is that a Like makes you feel good inside; the symbol of a Like is a thumbs up. A positive hand gesture we’re used to doing in real life. When transferred digitally as we see now, no real effort is actually required as opposed to the real thumbs up. So in Facebook reality, it is questionable whether the person who ‘Likes’ a certain post actually likes it or merely agrees with it or is just Liking it because it already has 99 Likes and 1 more Like brings no harm + makes the 100th Liker a part of ‘something’; like he is ‘in the know’ or ‘in the loop’ y’know. I don’t know if you get my drift.. but this is what I’ve gathered from my own observation/s and experience/s.

News have also become more widespread now that news channels have started their own Facebook pages. Now everyone can be a (non-official) news commentator just by ‘Sharing’ a particular news and add a line or two in their own words. Intelligent discourse do arise from Sharing, but more often than not, I see loud comments aimlessly and carelessly thrown in gibberish language- and they go back and forth, littering the comments section of the news. I am weary of those, but sometimes I do feel tempted to join in, ESPECIALLY when a careless person has made a blatant mistake in their accusatory and hostile comments which I’m able to spot and put right. I do it to shut them up. Also, take note at how most of the time, the direction that the comments takes a different route- from the content of the news itself to the news provider and so on. It gets hilarious ridiculous, of course. But nowadays I avoid them. In fact I avoid Facebook totally except when my own Timeline gets flooded with the things teenagers these days find so amusing (namely Kpop, One Direction etc) and I feel the need to wake these people up by throwing a link to an AlJazeera video about the Burmese Muslims’ Oppression or by geting people to sign petitions or by Sharing an interesting study about the Quran and other things like that… But lo and behold! True enough, after a long long hiatus from Facebook, and suddenly posting all this ‘dry’ stuff, these things don’t attract people in the very least! It does get hard when you’re pressured by the number of Likes you might or might not be getting. Before I went on the hiatus, I did feel that I was burdening people by making them feel obliged to Like my posts. I’m not sure why I felt so, but it was obviously not because I actually felt that people were burdened by it- Liking a post is hardly a burden! Maybe it was because almost the same people appear in my notifications, Liking every single post. I didn’t want them to do that. It sort of felt as if they felt like they were doing me a favour. I didn’t like it; whether they really Liked it or not, wasn’t the question anymore. It was just tiring; being notified of how many Likes you’re getting.. all that anticipation. It’s sad, what Facebook’s made me feel. So that was why I moved to Twitter; I didn’t feel like I was burdening everyone with my thoughts- it felt like everyone there was overburdened by their own thoughts that they had to spill it there; we were like-minded people. I didn’t feel the least guilty posting an update every single minute or second! I felt free to post ‘dry’ stuff on Twitter without worrying if I would only get one Like or 10 Likes. I couldn’t care less about the Likes because there is no such feature on Twitter. There is ‘Favourite’, but as silly as this sounds, that is of a higher rating than Like. So I didn’t mind if people didn’t particularly Favourite my tweets. I just knew that it was good enough for them to be looking at the Timeline and reading my tweets without getting distracted by any pictures or videos except that they are in links. And since then, I preferred the concept of Twitter to Facebook. And people leave their commentaries in their own tweets; broken up into several tweets or for those who might have written a whole essay, they provide a link to their work. Twitter’s word limit doesn’t really allow for extensive discussion, so that is why I don’t see much ridiculous irrelevant one/two liner hostile comments sandwiched in atrocious grammar thrown at particular individuals. -Ah you know, when a particular news is released, sometimes the comments you see have nothing to do with the content! It’s a one crude comment about the company that provides the news. Highly amusing stuff.

Sigh. So I’ve learned that to engage with the right people who actually do have a say in a particular matter of your interest fast, it is easier on Twitter even if your tweets are protected. At least one of your followers can give you something of substance even if it’s just under 140 characters. As opposed to Facebook which most of the time attracts unwanted individuals who are either 1) creepy 2)just trolling 3)don’t make sense 4)plain ignorant on the matter, they(brothers from the MSA) just want to talk about your display picture- which is a different topic altogether which we’ll save it for later.

This was written in the spur of the moment. Nah. Actually after getting so fed up listening to the ranting voice in my head getting louder and louder each day about this in particular and after reading these two: ‘The Ineloquence of Internet Commentary‘ and ‘Facebook and Why We Need A Rally of the Real‘.