Sometime last June, I deactivated my Facebook account, a big deal for a person like me, who logs in about twice to thrice every single day. The reasons were many-fold and I won’t get into them here. In the six months that I wasn’t on ‘the social network’, I thought (and secretly hoped) I’d be missed. So you can imagine how hurt my ego was when I realised that my ‘friends’ were unaware about my absence…till I updated that I was back.
Anyway, for those who haven’t tried it, here’s what happens in the days..and months(if you get there!) after you deactivate your account:
- You relapse. You can claim that you’re not addicted or that you’re an occasional visitor. Or you can be the worst kind, who claims you hate the gossip quotient even though you secretly stalk everyone’s accounts. Whichever group you belong to, deactivating your account isn’t the simple click it seems like. Try doing it, not for a day or a week, but maybe a month or more. For the self-development types, its a good will-power strengthener. Anyway, I relapsed. Not once or twice, but probably 10-15 times. Till FB changed their policy and asked me to make up my mind. And out I was.
- Your phone rings. I don’t know what deactivating an account on a social network is a symptom of, but in the weeks after i shut down my account, people called, most with just one question-was I okay? Those who ‘poked’ and ‘inboxed’ me called to say hi. The insecure types( yes, a lot of medical students are that) messaged saying ‘OMG!! Ur studyin sooooo hard’. The creepy kinds (you know, the people who keep visiting your account, never posting anything or ‘liking’ anything, but just keeping a tab on your activities) never bothered with any of these… but I’m willing to bet that they kept typing out my name at regular intervals to see if they could spy on me again.
- You learn that ignorance is bliss. What I love the most about FB is the way it keeps me connected to people- old friends, distant relatives I want to get to know better, colleagues who have moved abroad…Ironically,not being in touch, not knowing who went to which restaurant and with whom, how someone thought Kareena Kapoor looked when she became a Khan, who got engaged, how many steps the baby took…not being informed of peoples’ daily lives and escapades is what felt the best when I wasn’t on FB.
- Everyone discusses FB with you. The less you want to talk about it,the more people want to discuss it with you. Why did you shut down your account, can you actually stay off it, should I shut down my account too,are you ever going to come back ? An oddball with whom I didn’t want to discuss why I’m on or off FB asked me if I was being harassed by anyone and affirmed that he would ‘protect’ me if needed ! Another friend told me ‘Facebook can never affect me. I just look and laugh’ (one of those times when you want say-that’s what mirrors are for). And so, whether I was on it on not,Mr. Zuckerberg’s brain child made sure I was never short of interesting conversation.
- You miss updating things. If you’re the creative types( I like to think of myself as one of those) when it comes to status updates or you like sharing a quote that inspired you or a joke which made your day, you miss updating your status. Ever so often, you read something or think of something which would probably sound great in 140 characters…and you have nowhere to update it. That’s when you think of twitter.
- You learn who your ‘sympathetic’ friends are. There’s always one of these. Someone who shares his or her username and password so that even you can get updated about the ever changing(or should I say ever deteriorating?) exam system. Invariably,this is a person who has a very different(and very boring) friend list. Perfect maintenance therapy (you know, the therapy they give you so that you don’t get addicted again).
- You come back. This one is a bit of an anti-climax. But unless Facebook really affected you in a near lethal manner of some sort, I think this is the eventual end point for most people. Whatever be the reason you left, 8 times out of 10, you will come back. I did. For the friends I had and wanted to be connected to, for the friends I have and the ones I will make, for my daily dose of voyeurism(not the ‘peeping tom’ kind), to share my thoughts, my pictures…a slice of my life with the people who make up my world…or maybe just to see how long I could stand it this time.