The title is inspired by the movie “Superman returns” where Lois Lane, won the Pulitzer for her article “Why the world does not need Superman”. Well, I wish to impress upon you the opposite, though the comparisons are similar. After all, Superman and Facebook are world icons in their own right!
When “The Social Network” won three Oscars this year and Mark Zuckerberg was named “Person of the Year” by the Times Magazine, they were in effect stating the obvious - love it or loathe it, you can’t ignore it. The social networking behemoth, Facebook is here to stay. Richard Stengel, Time's managing editor, said, “Facebook is now the third-largest country on earth, and probably holds more information than any government about its citizens. Zuckerberg, a Harvard dropout, is its T-shirt-wearing head-of-state.” Ever since its inception, Facebook has come a long way. Those who have survived its numerous updates and changes will agree that it’s amazing how Facebook has wormed its way into our lives. Critics would vehemently argue that it is addictive, voyerustic, a front for vanity as well as annoying trivialities and an exercise in narcissism. Whew…..that’s a lot to defend. But wait, that’s just one facet of the matter.
A social conundrum or an unforeseen quandary- call it what you like, I was fighting its magnetic draw too. I obviously had scant interest in playing Farmville or Family Feud. Two years and plenty of pestering later, I hopped onto the bandwagon. Ever since, it’s been an incredible discovery. Post wedding, I flew out of my nest of 24 years, literally across the seven seas. Before homesickness could threaten to gnaw away at my happiness, Facebook became my only connection to the folks I’ve left behind. It was indeed exciting how just with the click of a mouse, I could catch up with anyone I wanted, anytime. Not to forget, it was equally thrilling to find old acquaintances, rekindling friendships dating back to kindergarten days. How’s that for flashback? Did you think that awkward photo of you in pigtails or awful shorts and lanky frame had been lost forever in history?! Think again ! Opponents argue that all privacy is lost when you live life in the open on Facebook, but one needs to remember that the user has the option to customize his/her profile to what information he/she wishes to see or make visible to others.
Facebook has taught me to celebrate the people I hold close to my heart, to be unafraid to express my emotions, to be more effusive in appreciation, to aim for greater horizons inspired by the success of others. Do I need to know every tiny little detail that’s going on in my cousin’s lives? Not a chance. But is it important for me to know if any of them got a promotion, is getting married, bought that dream house or just lost a pet. Absolutely yes.
In the recent past, Facebook has emerged as a harbringer of social change. The memory of the successful manner in which Facebook was used to propagate information by demonstrators in their quest for a democracy is still fresh in our minds. Closer home, when the dimunitive gandhian Anna Hazare launched a fast unto death against corruption, he stirred the long dead conscience of this nation of a billion plus people out of their slumber. People scurried to shore up support. Online signature petitions were sent to the powers that be by spreading the word on Facebook. Sure enough, the babus in their exalted seats gave in to the power of the people.
To put it quite simply, Facebook has taught us to empathise. Yet, while being trendy and in the know of what’s hot and what’s not, we also want to celebrate that part of us which is deeply traditional. It is okay for us to connect with others through our trivialities- even if it includes those ad jingles which never fail to tickle your funny bone or how sumptuous your first homemade biryani turned out. We know we live in a big world, yet feel tiny when we realize how we’re connected to one another.
A fellow blogger aptly sums it up when he says,” Inevitably, Facebook will be replaced by another social network tool that is more appealing, to draw us closer, regardless of where we live, how much time has passed or what has kept us from communicating so long. But for the time being, I’m happy to feel connected, checked up on and friended”