And I quit Facebook

I entered the social media world in 2007 when I joined first Orkut and then Facebook. Initially my preference was for Orkut but gradually shifted to FB. So much so that by the time Orkut was dissolved in September 2014, I felt nothing special about leaving Orkut. Former students, ex-colleagues, friends and family – my contact list grew to well over 1500. I enjoyed my FB interactions and would really spend hours poring over it.

Then came out the news of various FB privacy and security breaches. Each one jittered me more and more. By then I could be truly called as an FB addict! I couldn’t believe how I got myself dragged into this vortex of likes and shares, comments and repartees. By March 2019, I had made up my mind to quit and started priming myself to a life without FB.

Besides, April and May 2019 saw a vicious battle for power to the Indian Parliament. Day in and day out, one read about the never-ending churning of fake news in social media via FB and WhatsApp targeting one party, community and religion. That was the last straw for it my liberal and secular way of thinking. Sick of what I saw and read, the deed was done on 3rd May 2019.

“According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 54 percent of Facebook users ages 18 and older have adjusted their privacy settings in the past year, 42 percent have curbed their Facebook usage, and 26 percent have deleted the app from their phone. But the simplest security fix — just leaving the network altogether — may also be the hardest to execute successfully.” *

Am glad and proud that I have been able to quit the network altogether. I expected I would have pangs of FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out. But surprise, surprise, I had none! In fact, I was so relieved that I don’t read posts of all and sundry. Lies, absolute lies and reiterated lies that made people believe lies to be truths. I was reminded of the lines, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave… when we first practice to deceive.” The hollowness and shallowness of it all actually stumped me. So no regrets. No longing to get back there. I am happy without Facebook!


Facing the Book!

I have been a Facebook user for nearly 5 years now. I do enjoy being part of this wonderful fraternity. It has brought so many people closer to me  – those I would not have been in touch, thanks to the hustle and bustle of life. It takes me back to good old times and the people from those days when pictures are posted and then tagged. It has also been the quickest means of communicating with all of them. I remember to have met with scores of my former students during my summer holidays by just communicating about my visit over FB.

I am grateful to FB for having brought to my peripheral vision very many students whom I have taught in at least half a dozen schools. Many of them are whom I know well for they were my students; some who know me as I have taught their older sibling(s); a few who have just heard about me as a teacher – all eager to share updates of their personal and professional lives with me. Then there are former colleagues and friends. College mates – classmates, juniors and seniors. These networks are so powerful and through these networks we have been able to organize get togethers and alumni associations as well.

At some point in time I realized that so many people require some kind of motivation in their lives. This made me have a page called Charaiveti for that purpose alone, where I post uplifting messages. To my team members, I have opened a group which I administer. I make it a point to share with them any interesting piece of information regarding teaching and learning, educational technology, interesting careers, online courses and MOOCs and so on. For other educator friends I share those links in a different page called Aware Teachers.

It is quite gratifying to see through FB that our former students have spread their wings, earned Most Valuable Professional titles, shouldered responsibilities both professional and personal. Those are priceless moments when we as educators feel rewarded, and the reiteration dawns on you that, yes, we are in the right profession.

FB also gives me a space to comment and reflect on day-to-day happenings, be it the Delhi Gang Rape, the cloudburst at Uttarkhand or even closer home the travails of a coalition government that gets knotted even more complexly even as it tries to extricate out of messes they create.

Many of us family members are also on FB and that is also a great way to stay updated. Instead of posting invitations by snail mail, I uploaded the invitation of my daughter’s marriage to inform everyone and to invite them for the same. Yes, I am very active on FB and as of today have 1403 friends! Over 75% of them are my students who form a huge slice of the pie of my life!!

However, I find some irksome habits in some of my FB friends. Things that are part of social media etiquette. You might be a hard core fan of Chefville or Farmville or other thousands of ‘ville’ games the FB offers. I am not. So it would be nice if you could stop sending me request for any games.

Oh, yes! You have an idol or a brand – NaMo or Coke for example. Why should you assume that I too share your passion? I may not. In fact, I will not. I would like to read, think, rationalize and come to my own choice of opinion.  And that is my own opinion – in a democracy I am entitled to mine right? So, I would be delighted if you could stop sending me suggestions to like pages & shares, unless they are to me harmless ones like say Optimists’ Creed or something as inspirational and patriotic as the Unity Song:

Then, there are friends who tag others for anything and everything. Here too I would advise you to tread the careful path. Many don’t like tagging and I have seen some people in my friend circles flying off the handle because they have been tagged. I don’t mind being tagged one picture or a post – but definitely not in one with something I dislike / am uncomfortable about. Like say, KFC or Dunkin Doughnuts. That is not my style!

Now, with comments, one can upload pictures too. I find that some silly picture of a funny scene in a movie with a punch line uploaded along with the comment – not in mine but in others’ walls. This is most distasteful and an insult to the person who has updated his status. I wish people would resort to this only to substantiate something – not to poke fun on somebody.

Then there are ‘friends’ who will explode when you share some information. There will be comments, counter comments and altogether it gets into a gooey mess. I have had this experience  and finally had to delete comments that were not very charitable. In this digital space it is worth remembering that each one is entitled to hold his or her own view. So why would you want to comment on the appropriateness of the post – it is the sweet will and pleasure of the person concerned; unless, the post is about you. I think most of us don’t do that.

So, let us face-book peacefully and without infringing others’ space and trodding on others feelings. In that case, I will be most happy to be an FB friend of yours!