Earlier this evening, I was discussing with a friend about how comparison breeds contempt but it also challenges you to aspire for “more” and sometimes even go get it. It’s human to compare, raise expectations of what we owe ourselves and what the world owes us. While it definitely leads you down a different path had you not compared yourself, but it’s always a trade-off. It all boils down to how you measure yourself – the yardsticks of your own life. It’s easy to fall prey to measuring ourselves through the yardsticks laid out for us by our immediate social ecosystem. As if it wasn’t enough that we grew up being compared to our siblings, cousins, classmates and our parents’ colleagues’ children, we are now expanding our social ecosystem multifold, thanks to Facebook, LinkedIn and not to mention, Glassdoor. Thank you Marc Zuckerberg, Reid Hoffman and Robert Hohman for showing us that our relative social presence makes us who we are.
Do we really need to know which airports I check into or who loves their spice most or see our neighbour’s cat’s crazy antics or receive courtesy wedding invites of long lost childhood friends? Call me anti-social, but I’m just fine not knowing any of this. So are all of you. I spoke to a childhood friend after a decade and he had already caught up on the lost decade behind my back, thanks to Facebook? We had little to talk about each other but we were testing each others’ stalking capabilities. I am usually opposed to discussing people and I’d rather discuss ideas, but what do you really do with all this unprocessed data, right? Unfortunately (you’ll see why), I was born in the pre-social media era and hence, dealing with information overload is frankly overwhelming. I have been trying to develop mechanisms to cope with my ever expanding social ecosystem. Apart from experiencing crazy swings from wanting to wipe out my online social presence one day to then trying to rationalise my continued stay, I haven’t made much progress.
I am convinced that I want a digital record of my life in the form of a blog because if anyone 4-5 generations down the lane wants to know what their ancestor (me) was like, I think this would be a more accurate account of my thoughts and personality over my social pages. My social presence is lop-sided and biased like everyone else’s. I do not have 1169 friends as my Facebook page claims, but I couldn’t be bothered trying to segregate them into acquaintances, close friends and creeps that I added by mistake (I must confess that I have attempted this exercise once or twice but given up). Facebook is not designed for organising our social ecosystems and this is one thing that competition could do to help destroy Facebook. Just a quick back of the napkin calculation says that there might be at-least 300 Million takers for such a competitor based on the assumption that the rest of “my generation” feels the same way given that most of us want to be 18 till we die!
P.S – Before I moved to Ann Arbor, I didn’t indulge in my stalker instincts and hence, I have actually gotten to know so many wonderful people, who don’t need to be up on my Facebook page because sometimes ignorance is bliss. This gives me a reason to walk up to them and discuss things they intend to share with me and not something they randomly squirt at their online social ecospace.