More Family on Facebook? Don’t do it Mark!


More Family on Facebook? Don’t do it Mark!

Illustration: Akshita Monga/Arré

Facebook is this generation’s version of reading the newspaper – we do it every day, it lasts 20 minutes on average, there are a bunch of stupid advertisements to go through, and you’d feel weird if you couldn’t get your hands on it one day. Over the years, we have so gotten used to Facebook, that any attempt at tinkering with its design or layout pisses us off.

Mark Zuckerberg has managed to do this twice. In one month.

Facebook has made more changes to its algorithm in recent times than the UIDAI has made to its security features. In a recent Facebook post, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook was planning to promote more personal content on our timelines than news items. Basically what he meant is that we’re now going to see more posts from our friends and families, which sounds like all kinds of virtual hell mixed in one intolerable timeline.

What upsets me most about Mark’s new move is that it shows us he really doesn’t understand why we use Facebook in the first place. Let me spell it out for you: We use Facebook so that we can keep friends and family at a distance. We use Facebook so that we can wish all our distant cousins on their birthdays, and have absolutely no guilt that we know nothing about their lives.

Nobody wants to say it out loud but conversations with family can get boring very quickly. You want to talk about GST and rising global fuel prices, but your parents insist upon talking about your arranged marriage. Facebook allows you to exploit your parents’ love and ignorance, by letting you simultaneously heart-react to all their posts and block them from posting anything on your page. That is a beautiful thing.

Parents on Facebook are like toddlers at a playground; things can get out of control pretty quickly, leaving only you to deal with the embarrassment. Remember the time dad posted a good morning quote and tagged half the world in it? Or the time he uploaded your nerdy picture from fifth grade? Or when mom wished Sarla Aunty happy birthday on her own timeline, without tagging Sarla?

Mark, seriously, if I wanted more conversation about Rekha’s saree at the Filmfare awards, I wouldn’t be browsing Facebook on my phone at the dinner table. I get it mom, she has aged well, but Varun Dhawan has just been nominated for Best Actor – are we just going to ignore the elephant in the room?

But let’s not just give the family all the credit for our timelines turning into cringe-fests. Are we going to pretend that a lot of our friends aren’t really stupid? Almost everyone has felt the pain of getting a Farmville invite, or being tagged in that post that expects you to treat your friend to pizza, just because your name begins with P. When aliens finally land on Earth, years from now, and browse through these memes, I want them to know that I did not approve.

"People are so fed up of pointless photoshoots and stupid game invites, that they’d rather give a shit about someone’s satirical stand-up clip, an explainer on bitcoin, or an article listing six signs that you’re not having enough sex."

More posts from friends and family mean more pre-wedding shoot videos, followed by a live-feed of the baby’s journey from crawling to realising that his parents are sociopaths who document every second of his life. Before Facebook, I had the impression that babies were cute-ish but now I know otherwise (Yes. I’m talking about your son, Ashish).

Then there is the group of friends who overuse the “Live” feature the same way Rahul Gandhi overuses the term “women empowerment”. I don’t recall asking for it, but these folks insist on updating us on the incredible coffee they had, the new set of curtains they bought, and their picturesque trip from Borivali to Malad. Let’s just say what we are all thinking – people who share that NASA Diwali picture should not be allowed to vote.

After parents and forwards took over WhatsApp, Facebook was one of the few places where desi Internet carnage could be controlled, by following verified news pages. I get it, sometimes people believe fake news. But then again, people are fake too. Rishabh just marked himself safe in the floods. Except Rishabh is in Mumbai and the floods are in Chennai and we’re all collectively pretending that that’s okay.

Mark, here’s the thing: People are so fed up of pointless photoshoots and stupid game invites, that they’d rather give a shit about someone’s satirical stand-up clip, an explainer on bitcoin, or an article listing six signs that you’re not having enough sex. Be good, Mark, and help the world be a slightly more knowledgeable place. And don’t believe Karan Johar; it’s NOT all about loving your family.

Seriously, Mark. Don’t.