Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Less Face Book, more Face Time!

I understand this blog is fast slipping into oblivion. Not the place I intend it to go, so I am renewing my commitment to post more regularly. They say you need talent to write. I say you need discipline (and for some people, a spell-checker). This first paragraph is to assure the few loyal readers left that I will try and locate the necessary self-persuasion.

We lead extremely distracted lives, especially if you are of my ilk who sit in front of a computer close to ten hours a day. I am not even going to talk about the movie watching and the TV watching I do, but pure and simple, the time that the digital world is consuming. There was always the internet and instant messaging, and it would actually need some extra focus to block everything out and stay on the job. But at least that was limited to the time spent at work after which I would go home and like a good boy, slouch in a couch and watch the idiot box. Nothing precedes the explosion in the past year or two for me. First came the blogs, then youtube, orkut, then came my smartphone and then came Facebook, and there I was, completely submerged into the digital realm.

There’s always something happening on Facebook in someone’s lives, and the deeper you get into this social quicksand, the harder it is to extract yourself. And it doesn’t leave you when you leave it sitting alone locked behind the screen of your crusty computer. There’s the smartphone, that doesn’t let me disconnect from the internet. It is waiting, silently calling me out to log on and check scores on cricinfo, or when an e-mail at work has arrived at 9.34 pm in the night and the glow of the screen draws me into knowing if one of these three important things have conspired: 1. Did I get fired? 2. Have I done anything that will get me fired? 3. Did someone send an invite for a morale event? Then of course, I have to check my yahoo account for the odd chance that some e-mail is waiting for me. Not to overlook my hotmail account, where there ARE e-mails sitting to tell me that something has happened on Facebook that I should know about. It reminds me of an organizer at a dandia event I once went, telling people: ‘please assemble in concentric circles, one inside the other!’

Internet itself has mushroomed. I follow more blogs, I read more news, I see more videos and I hear more music. In essence, an entire day can be spent doing nothing else but keeping ‘in sync’ and it would still be a drop in the ocean. The more I try to optimize what I see and hear, the more there seems to be out there that needs to be seen and heard.

How ironic that the very same tools that should empower and enrich end up distracting me in the process! In an effort to make my life simpler, I have made my life more complex. It requires a special kind of discipline, an almost ascetic bent of mind to resist the temptation to devote endless hours to this smorgasbord of options out there to spend time on. But wait: now I have the perfect excuse to explain my absence from blogging. Everytime I am on a PC or my smartphone, highlights from yesterday’s cricket match to the latest articles on New York Times (and the endless comments) call out to me among other things. There you have it; I finally found someone to blame for my absence from this blog. I’d go on, but I think a friend of mine just updated his status to let everyone know that he is having lunch!

P.S> BTW, I am still not on Twitter. My last stance against digital drowning is still on.


frissko said...

:)...very relateable...and my blog has been hibernating as well...and yes, i managed to stay off twitter too(i did stay off orkut and fb for quite a while but finally succumbed, so wont make any claims yet)...

a related article (, a short read so dont worry...

Pallavi said...

Oh well! I resisted FB for a long time but now I am the biggest spammer there. Sigh! I have thought of twitter many times now and gosh, its a scary thought to my existing addiction to net.

But I would request you to keep your blog alive, since you write well.

Btw, why are you not on my fb list? :grin:

Parth said...

@Frissko: What coincidence! I actually heard Andrei on the air deliver the essay on NPR and was chuckling all the way at his smart use of sarcasm. It looks like you are having more success at managing this than I do. Hope to see some more blogging from your end

@Pallavi: Thanks for the request, and trust me, I really am trying to keep the blogging going. Find me on Facebook, should be easy. But I must warn you: I don't install any applications, don't take any quizzes and don't join any groups :)

Ankit said...

You reminded me of my online obsession with Orkut 3 years ago. Made me feel so bad, I had to delete the account. I came on facebook some time ago but I find it too complicated. Far too much stuff for my puny brain and I'm happy at my reluctance to learn. More importantly, I still shudder at the time that I used to literally burn away at the stake named Orkut. Looking forward to more frequent updates to this very fine blog :).

Vi said...

You have the talent, don't worry. And it seems like you're working on the discipline. :)

I suppose I am one of the few who has not given into Facebook yet. Rather, I did, briefly in high school - and promptly removed my account upon entering college. I am one of the old-fashioned types who relies on phone, e=mail and letters to keep in touch. :)

But I entirely agree with your sentiment. When I am in India and away from my computer days - no, weeks! - at a time, I feel disconnected somehow. It's refreshing, but my mind still wanders to the 'unreal' realm.

You know, I think we have effectively created two identities - an online self and a 'real' self. Sometimes they cross over, but I think we have very separate identities online (especially those who prefer to remain anonymous, like myself) versus those that are more open. Just a thought. :)

RTD2 said...

You do a great job multi-tasking on your distractions...I predict you will start tweeting should suit your taste for brevity.

Parth said...

@Ankit: What about Twitter? Are you on it? It seems like it is difficult to draw a line about how much connectivity is good, isn't it?

@Vi: Surprisingly, when I am in India, I don't seem to miss not being connected for days at an end. However, in day to day life, sometimes it become difficult to decide how much of online time with these things is necessary. Case in point: I love writing long e-mails to people, but most others have moved away and the way to know about them is to know what their facebook tells me about them. About the dual personality, the blog has such a thin veil of anonymity that anyone wanting to find me on facebook can do so. In fact, I have made so many friends in real life due to this blog (other bloggers) that it has been a great win from the experience.

@RTD2: You know me well :) Yes, Twitter appeals to me for that very same reason. But I know that it will take me further away from this blog and I don't want that to happen if I can avoid it.

Sneha said...

Long Live Solilowkey! Please don't stop blogging... :-)

Nocturne said...

hi PP - happy dad's day!

1 paragraph into this and i was thinking, is he on Twitter yet? and i had to crack up at your concluding line.

extremely relatable, and almost precisely where i find myself.

Parth said...

@Nocturne: Thanks so much for the wishes :) Twitter is good use to the Iranian revolution. Yet to convince me of what good it would be to me.

kowthas said...

To me it's a phase. I got caught up with teh net in 2000 and then drwoned it in so much with the connections and pressures of keeping up ties, that I gave it all up in '03.
Then slowly started blogging vowing to not get caught in the net and have been maintaining okay until a few months back when it just seemed overwhelming. I've toned it down as much as I can, but yes, I see the end is near. :)

Sadly, I do like to write, just need to learn to keep the two separate. Bogging!= writing + the community aspect.

But yea, one does what one feels most comfortable doing. Space is big :)


Ricercar said...

i agree! but i am on all of those all the same - ha ha - contradictions!

Niranjan said...

Story of my digital life. I have managed to keep away from FB and the iPhone - lest the last of my waking hours is consumed by bits and bytes.

Radha said...

i love these innovations in social networking. I love blogging. And I love facebook; i've connected with so many long lost friends since FB, its absolutely bizzare, how I find some "mutual friends" between two friends I didnt know knew each other.
The worlds become a smaller place & i'm glad for it.

Parth said...

@Kowthas: Well put. I also think of blogging as a relaxing excercise; seperate from the constant presence in the community

@Ricercar : :)

@Niranjan: I have a smartphone but FB is becoming a time drain for me

@Radha: Glad to meet a complete fan. I think there's a tipping point that eventually everyone seems to reach. Looks like you aren't there yet. If it works for you, fantastic!