Facebook + Life = Lifebook

Stressed out: Can Facebook get you this frazzled?!

One of my friends recently asked on her Facebook status why so many people deactivate their FB accounts when they hit a patch of uncertainty or depression in their lives. I am sure you’ve noticed how people take little holidays from the land of FB and then come back firing great guns like life is a bag of roses again. I can say that with all the sarcasm I want because I have done it too, so don’t hate my honesty!

I think that we all know the truth about Facebook anyway. Need I dredge it up again for you to hear? Okay, here it is in brief:

  1. We are largely aware that not all of the people on our ‘friends’ lists qualify as such and that in fact, you could probably count a handful of real friends amid those hundreds and thousands of people whose smiling faces light up the vertical panel on your FB profile page. Most of those people qualify simply as acquaintances… Some are even enemies! Think of it this way, how many of your FB friends would you introduce in real life as your friend?
  2. We know that Facebook, like life, is a lot about keeping up appearances. Don’t get me wrong, there are genuine moments when we simply want to share the good things happening in our lives with our friends, but at the same time, FB has trapped us in a rat race where we see how good XYZ’s life is and begin to mope about how unexciting our own existence is.  Whether on purpose or not, we are making ourselves envious and resentful of our so-called friends’ successes and achievements.

So, yes, Facebook has become the virtual version of real life where we keep up appearances all too well.  But at the same time Facebook is this dynamic hub of interactions and bond-making that makes it a really great space. It is, just as with life, half of one thing and half of another. Which I think is what we all know anyway, which (I think) is why deactivate our accounts when the heats gets too much.

I'll leave that up to you decide...

I deactivated my account for about a month this year and I am telling you, my days felt much lighter. You see, I was burnt out, exhausted, overcooked yet underdone! I felt like I had given all that I had and could give no more; not a smile of empathy, not a shout of laughter, not a drop of a tear; no, not even a cute smiley face on anyone’s FB wall!

So I decided to go away for a while. And that was because I realised anyway that those whom I interacted with on a more intimate level would find other ways to communicate with me; and those that I didn’t would wait for me to come back and then we would resume our ‘friendship’. Simple!

And yes, that’s what happened precisely!

But what was even more important for me at that time was to get out of the stifling rat race. I didn’t have to look at newly uploaded photos of an acquaintance’s magical holiday on the moon or snaps of another’s perfect wedding to an outrageously good-looking man.  Call me weak, but the truth is that I just couldn’t handle it at that point. I needed to get back to me!

Facebook has become our anorexia, our nicotine, our obsession, our disorder. It has become just what our real lives are anyway, which is why – I think – we need to get away from it sometimes.

So what did I say in response to my friend’s post?

How many friends is that again?!

I said that the truth is that most of us know that not all the people on our friends lists are actually friends. Others are snoops, others are watching our every move with eyes glowering green with envy and yet others are simply adding as many people onto their lists to reach 1 000, 2 000, 3 000, 4 000 and then that magical limit of 5 000. And oh yes, some are truly our dear beloved friends.

So what am I prescribing?

Absolutely nothing because Facebook is about real life. You can never be absolutely sure who’s got your back. And that’s why when we are disappointed or dejected, our meltdowns and burnouts take place in private, because you just can never be too sure who’s rejoicing as as you mope and wallow away your life in public.

Mr Zuckerman, you got it wrong! You should have called it Lifebook, not Facebook! Facebook is everything that we experience in real life, only in a hyper-realised way.

22 thoughts on “Facebook + Life = Lifebook

  1. I am glad you were one of the friends who sought me out….lol! FB can be really demanding on the intellectual and emotional resources of a person and when you’re going through stuff…you just need all your wits about you to deal with it and get your shit together… lovely post!

  2. I enjoyed this, because it is so pertinent. Especially for us, living away from our friends back home and trying to keep in touch with them : ) I guess the crux is balancing Facebook time (virtual hugs and ‘pokes’) with real hugs and conversations that do not involve smileys. I prefer to use Facebook as a way to share interesting things I come across, and not as a replacement for my relationships.

    Read something quite interesting on the same subject here:

    “I knew that at heart, Facebook was about editing myself, presenting a perfect, beautiful person to the world while omitting all the dark, difficult bits, the poetics that, at their core, made me who I was.”

    1. Wow, thanks Chandni. I just read the link and wow, she speaks the truth. I would love to be as bold as she has been in quitting… but at the same time I realise the great power and potential of FB to a point that I realise how useful it can be… if used wisely🙂

  3. Am so addicted to Facebook cuz many people that care about me are digging it. I make new friends that am so passionate about and they are all there to put a smile on my face ( you are included Fungai) not to talk of the space for activism!!! And ah endless streams of relevant information…

  4. That’s the point but then what can we do? Nothing, because that is life as you put and since it’s life what is the point in quiting when you are still alive. To quit life is to be dead. Therefore if we are not yet dead let’s live. Forward with facebook/life as we bress ourselves for the obvious challenges that come with living.

  5. Well, I believe that Facebook has opened other convenient avenues through which we can keep track of friends (and acquaintances). That real friends should be able to reach us in some other way could be a fact but a tad too harsh. In this fast paced world where everyone is trying to keep body and soul together – I think Facebook provides a great opportunity to ‘check in’, just like with ordinary email. Which I believe is one of the ways ‘real friends’ can reach you. The other option among many is phone calls, which can be messy expensive. So, if Facebook has provided email and real time chat facilities (over and above the status updates) I really dont see how really evil it is. But, you said, it, it has become a lifebook for some people to the point where you can read their real time emotion and current disposition. I think the trick is to find that fine balance between privacy and keeping up appearances. I think Facebook is great if we try to divorce our everyday emotions, jealousies and petty brags as it were. I love that I can share my blog links, quotables and other such trivia with ‘friends’ on facebook. Great reflections in this blog.

  6. Great article Fungi!! It tells all of us FB users what we know but are afraid to face…personally, I try and limit my FB ‘friends’ by periodically deleting those I deem ‘useless’ to me on FB itself and also in real life…some people really just send friend requests to test you and snoop on you but never really add any value to you neither do they comment, inbox or even poke you (even though you always see them commenting on other people’s walls, etc)…so, for me its actually pretty therapeutic to press that ‘UNFRIEND’ button…maybe I too have issues…don’t we all…???

  7. Ah, the great Facebook debate! I’ve even blogged about Facebook myself.

    Since about 2 years ago I make it a point to deactivate my Facebook account for at least 3 months every year. Initially when I started deactivating it was because I was one of those who would Facebook when insomnia hit (yes at $ in the morning – thank God for technology). If I was bored, I would Facebook, Sometimes I just didn’t need an excuse, I would just Facebook because I can. Now I deactivate my account for privacy and to focus on my blog more. Facebook has more foes than friends. A lot of my “friends” on Facebook don’t even notice that I am away and the true friends have my ALL numberS, email addressES, skype nameS. They can and do get in touch with me. And I feel like I’m keeping up appearances with Facebook. People must know I’m at the hottest new joint and I’m having sushi, lets take pictures of me bunjee jumping and with the celebs that I bumped into at this joint and that joint and etc – sometimes it just feels like nothing is real on Facebook. Not to mention there is no manual on how to use Facebook so people tend to share a bit too much info. I don’t need to know that you caught your girlfriend with another guy, I don’t need to know when you are fighting with your best friend etc.

    Its hard to be authentic so now I opt to take a break every now and then.

    Great blog Fungai!

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  11. Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it
    to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to
    go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!

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