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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 39 New Delhi September 17, 2016

Facebook Revisited

Sunday 18 September 2016

by Fayezah Iqbal

Today it would be passé to term facebook as some alien revolution that overtook us sweepingly in a span of five-six years. Its virtual fleeting impact imperceptibly diluted in our real lives so much so that every ‘share’ comment and ‘like’ by a person crystallises our notion about the other person without knowing the person and sometimes even after knowing them for years.

It, nevertheless, has succeeded in engraving as strong an impression on a person’s psyche as the tangible and physical effect. Its expanse of liberty and expression, yet unregulated and endless, doesn’t have any parallel in the real world. This surely baffled and thrilled many of us in the beginning and is being harvested today to every bit, for voicing out all the voices, anonymous and the popular, suppressed and suppressing, exploited and ruling, biased and unequivocal, all alike. Every news has its seekers and supporters, and every person has earned attention and a following, something inconceivable even just after the advent of Facebook. This is what facebook is basically about... lending one and all that attention, and self-worth, while simultaneously connecting millions with millions.

Some six-seven years back, when FB was still an exotic undertaking for many Indians, and was fascinating for many with its dynamism, it was hitherto being seen as purely virtual, shallow, but great amusement and massively addictive form of social media and something which would not keep us spellbound for a long time. But it has stood the test of time, hands on and right from discrediting its virtual status to making us selfie freaks it has come a long way to becoming the visibly real part of our lives.

The ‘Like’ button of Facebook has changed the way we see ourselves and the world. Our likes and dislikes for anything or person or thing in the actual life have been quantified and we ascertain their worthiness by the numerical value. But as we allow more of facebook in our life we know it embodies reality too.

As in real life here too there are not always enough takers for all the good things, clout has a role to play (the more popular one is, the more likes one gets on every item she flags online regardless of the substance and stuff), the sensationalism of sensitive news, faking people with an outer veneer of happiness and good times, or fooling people with excessive sentiments, and last but not the least, some all-weather effusively expressive beings who shower their page with all the hunky-doriness of their lives all the time.

So after more than a decade of facebook, now we are not easily duped by the number of likes we see on someone’s picture or post because we are able to find increasingly the reverberation of this in our lives too. In the same way as a star or celeb who is immensely wooed and adored among his fan club but might be leading a trying, tragic and lonely life unknown to the world outside. Or for that matter even a common man (our colleague, classmate, friend, employee) who braves numerous hardships every day in his/her life and still appears composed and unperturbed to us.

However, Facebook has earned the honour of being a very trustful outlet for many reticent individuals, recluse, and yet more of unheard and unveiled pain and grief which vent out their piece of mind and part of them with an assured assurance of not losing their ungregarious self, while still receiving attention and empathy across the real space and ....through Facebook.

Though no matter how much we convince ourselves and downplay its importance by zeroing in the fleeting character and instant gratification agenda of FB, we surely are for a moment upset with the less likes or no like on our posts, photos and shares. So FB continues to rule us with both its exposed virtual and real face and will continue to beguile us demanding more for the approval of its existence, by making our flesh and blood life seem illusionary eventually.

Fayezah Iqbal did her Masters in Spanish from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Writing being her passion, she has been writing for various blogs since the last three years. She can be contacted at e-mail: fayezah.iqbal@gmail.com