Archive for the ‘Facebook’ Category

A day without Internet: Virtual life vs. real life?

September 5, 2010

Can you imagine what a day would be like without the internet? Impossible, right? Internet has become such an integral part of our lives, both personal and at work.

Well, my job is in internet marketing so if there was no internet, I am not sure what I would be doing. Perhaps, traditional marketing or continue with travel and hospitality sales and operations, who knows?

Okay, here is how an ordinary day begins for me. I wake up to my good old radio alarm clock set to 97.5FM and based on the song that plays, I decide if my day will be good or crappy. LOL! If to my bad luck there is an ad playing, I just keep hitting the snooze button so that I can wake up to a song. I am extremely superstitious! So far so good without internet!

Then its coffee time, I am sure by now everyone knows the love that I have for coffee. As I turn my brewer on and sniff the invigorating aroma of the dark coffee powder mixing into the boiling water, getting filtered and trickling down into the coffee pot, trust me, my senses come alive. I used to turn the TV on and catch up on the morning news but now with my Smartphone, TV is a second option. Thus begins my dependency on internet.

I chose a few friends from various backgrounds and posed a simple question – “Imagine what your day would be like without Internet” and here are some interesting answers and I have tried my best to keep it verbatim to retain the essence of the emotion in their answers –               

Home maker from England: “To me internet is a window to the world…where I find not only news and information but also friends and platforms to share my thoughts, views and feelings. Being a housewife I do not get to meet many like minded people routine topics like kids, home, family, gossip etc. does not sustain my interest beyond a point. A day without internet would be like being in a cell cut off from the world. It is unfortunate but virtual life has taken over real life in many ways.  Wish many people in the real world wanted to interact as much as they do in virtual world!”

Well-said, my friend! Virtual life has indeed taken over real life. This blog would not exist if not for the internet because I am a hobby blogger and not a writer. I cannot spend time contacting publishing houses and magazines etc, go through their bureaucracy to get a page/book published. 

Here is another comment from a friend who is a working mother from US: “My life would be lost without the internet. 🙂 Here is why.
As a mom/home-maker:
1. I use it to research what I should do when my baby is sick.
2. To learn about my child’s progress. What is normal in the growth process and what to expect?
3. Learn about the school systems.
4. Being in touch with the world…. friends, family, news etc
As a travel consultant:
1. I would not be able to function without my reservation system, e-mails, tickets, airline websites where I get all my info. 
2. My phone is also linked to the internet.
3. The core of my business is via phones and e-mails… as long as I have internet I can function from anywhere.”

Here are some interesting comments from my Facebook friends –

Internet world vs. real life

 

The comment about withdrawal symptom made me wonder if internet really is an addiction and if yes, is it as profound as drugs and alcohol? I did a simple search in Google for “Internet Addiction” and Google’s keyword choices were disorder, test, treatment, statistics, symptoms, help, facts and believe it or not rehab! Wow!  

There is a name for this supposed disorder – IAD or Internet Addiction Disorder. Wikipedia defines it as excessive computer usage that interferes with daily life. Well, think about it, how in the world can people have so many friends in the virtual world and divulge their whole life to them in 140-characters every five minutes and these friends are those who they don’t know or are mere acquaintances. If interested you can read more in the study published in the nih.gov site.

The symptoms are supposed to be fatigue due to lack of sleep, poor job performance, apathy and decreased investment in social relationships and activities. Then there are rehab centers.

I really don’t know what to make of all this but I know this for sure that I love internet and it is not an addiction. Here is how my friend managed when she was on a vacation at a place with no internet – “Since, staying offline was not by choice but Internet simply not available, hence imposed on me; I simply had to come to terms with it. Well, the first day was tough- strong urge to check my mails, go facebooking and read my newspapers online. However, from the 2nd day onwards, I switched to reading books, holding newspapers in my hands and also making phone calls instead of emailing. So, the other options came in handy. In hindsight, it was after all not a bad thing to re-acquaint myself with life without Internet.”

Virtual life is as necessary as real life as long as you are well aware of your boundaries and privacy settings. Most important, don’t forget your real friends, real life, real garden, real farm, real pets etc.

Thank you my friends for your valuable input to put this blog into perspective and see you all in the virtual world as some of you live so far away while to others, I am just a phone call away.

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Facebook, for me…

May 4, 2010

Two years ago, I was urged by my friend to join Facebook to see her latest photos. I had heard about Facebook but was reluctant to join mainly because I was already on a similar networking site called Orkut and I didn’t want to start all over again. Besides, I was also weary after a bad experience with “Tagged”. Does any remember being tagged? $#!%.

Anyway, I joined Facebook and boy, was I in for a surprise. I was elated to see that it was truly a networking site where people actually interacted, shared jokes, comments, music etc on a daily basis. It was fun and it became addictive! Even today I get major withdrawal symptoms if I haven’t been on FB at least once a day. The thing about FB is that it was launched at the time when the whole world was on par with information technology. Hence there is a wider audience and I was able to reconnect with many of my friends not just in the US but also in India, Venice, London, Australia, Singapore and more recently Dubai.

Until Facebook I had a few options of  keeping in touch with my friends and it was not very effective. For example, we would email each other but it’s like writing a letter, so time consuming and after a while it’s just forwarding jokes and chain emails. Or, we would coordinate a time to IM/Chat but living in different time zones poses a challenge. Phone calls were expensive, at least until Voice over IP technology became a success. As you can see, Facebook was a perfect solution to all these challenges in my life.

I started out with a few best friends. Remember the early days in school when we would be a group of 3 or 5 girls, huddled together, doing homework, reading, playing and having fun, aloof from all that’s going on around us. Yeah, I began that way.

Six months down the line, more and more people found me and I found them. It was like, wow, it’s you, the teacher’s pet or the most popular girl in school. And then hey wasn’t that the guy on whom I had a crush on or jeez, what’s she or he up to now. Familiar feelings?

Soon, Facebook became like a school cafeteria. I would waltz in and see everyone (their comments) and say hello to some and chat for a while (use Like button or leave a comment) and sign out. It also reminded me of my carefree life as a student, of who I was and how much I had morphed into a machine in this urban humdrum. Yes, my friends, FB to me is a platform where I relive my life as a student, as a teenager and sometimes even as a child.

Since last year, I started accepting friends from work (current and previous) and also from other areas of my life. So, my comments became a little more measured and professional. It wasn’t really hard because I am restrained in my communication anyway but it’s just that I became a little more cautious. Plus, I had to write with an international appeal as my friends live all around the world.

And, then came the announcement of the new Open Graph API and Open Graph Protocol. In simple terms, what this means for you and me is that this platform is now like a mega convention with many vendors coexisting and competing for your clicks. The difference here is that these vendors know all about you even before you go to their stall. This helps FB and all their partners to customize ads based on your personal likes and dislikes on your page to potentially increase clicks, conversions, sales and revenue. (Welcome to my world!) So, basically instead of me being part of a market segment or a demograph in terms of age, sex and ethnicity, the marketers will come directly to my friends, my family and me.

I don’t mind seeing such ads especially on products I use and like. It’s much better than seeing those that embarrass me. But I am deeply concerned with what can happen to my personal information if it was sent out to all the vendors and how it can be used (abused?) and it’s bearing on my day-to-day life.

I wish FB is sensitive to this fundamental need of ours, the sense of privacy. If privacy didn’t matter to human beings living in the civilized societies, then why do we build homes, have doors, windows, and gates? We could all just live like cave men. There are ample studies proving that the need for privacy is as crucial as the need for having someone to talk to. Unfortunately, there has to be balance between the two for a sane life. Is it so hard for companies like Google, Facebook etc to understand and respect this?

Coming back to me, I am hoping to remain connected with my friends forever, hoping that they would not drop off from FB for fear of their privacy being violated as I will still be around, probably more professionally if things were to go out of hand.