on Facebook

Gee… Using FB and criticizing it.. Well, that’s the best part of social networking!

If you have few friends on FB or Orkut then you are a loser, and if you have too many, your are kind of a ‘social slut’ – that’s what flies around these days. The common wisdom diffused in our head by corporate media that the ‘job-givers’ are using them to analyze their potential candidates. That’s leaves us in a dilemma. If your friends are few then your chances are higher in ‘banking’ and less in ‘management’… Man! So it has become a ‘market norm’ rather than a ‘social norm’.

In house sociologists of facebook had something to say, “that the average number of friends in a Facebook network is 120. And when it comes to real, intensive interaction, that number shrinks dramatically. It turns out that the average Facebook male interacts with only four people and the average female with six.

Here is my observation about Facebook users, especially after seeing their “Top 10 friends list”, “The chances that someone exists in you top 10 list is much higher if they have the almost same number of friends.” The pattern is more acute in undergraduates and school goers.

In fact a paper appeared by a respected university has something more to say. It ‘reveals that social connectivity is partially genetic. Researchers James Fowler, Christopher Dawes, and Nicholas Christakis compared data on 1,110 identical and fraternal twins from 142 schools and found heritability in “in-degree” (how many people call you a friend), “transitivity” (how many of your friends are friends with each other), and “centrality” (how easy it would be to play six degrees of Kevin Bacon using you in the role of Kevin Bacon – I dont know who the hell is this guy!.) “Out-degree” (how many people you name as friends), however, is not significantly heritable.’ The genes are still not leaving the Human nature. Its been 30 year since the ‘The selfish genes’ was published and still echoes in our intellectual landscapes This is not highly doubted after in a seminal paper ‘Mental Wealth of the Nation‘ it has been settled that genes plays (if any) at most 15-20% part. Even if leave genes alone, this research says that the “200 male college students, put them in groups for the purpose of planning a party, and then had them rate each other’s likability. It found that the most popular students were the most likely to bust the budget or suggest illegal stuff like drugs and hookers. They also tended to carry a variation of a serotonin-receptor gene associated with impulsivity and rule-breaking behavior. Everyone likes the bad boys.” In India, this behaviour might not be that acute but the patterns could be the same.

How can you have, as the authors write, “too much of a good thing?” They hypothesize that “Individuals with too many friends may appear to be focusing too much on Facebook, friending out of desperation rather than popularity, spending a great deal of time on their computers ostensibly trying to make connections in a computer-mediated environment where they feel more comfortable than in face-to-face social interaction.”

A copy and paste from this paper, “Finally, social networks may serve the adaptive (or maladaptive) function of being a vehicle for the transmission of emotional states (38), material resources, or information (e.g., about resource or partner availability) between individuals. Some traits that appear to spread in social networks also appear to be heritable (such as obesity (20, 39), smoking behavior (40, 41), happiness (42, 43), and even political behavior (22, 23, 44–46)), suggesting that a full understanding of these traits may require a better understanding of the genetic basis of social network topology.”

Ever wonder why Iranian ,Indian, and Chinese finds it easier to enter US campuses despite that US governments hated/hates these countries. We all know how ‘Indira Gandhi’ was called bitch by a US president and the newspaper greeted her with this headline, “Here comes Indian PM with a begging bowl’. Or the US secretary of States comes to India when US-Indo Nuclear deal and says, “Mr. Prime Minister, We’ll make you great!” Followed with the national dailies headlines, “India Nuked” and all the celebration. China had been the biggest foe of US but still maximum students are in US are from China. Iran also sees the same pattern. A white paper coming out of think tank suggest that, “India can be a easy ally of US since a lot of people in power are educated in US unlike the previous generation which was largely Europe educated and naturally anti-US.” Well seeing the development, this indeed worked really well. No longer Bhopal gas tradegy is concern and a bill is now being introduced so that the companies do not have to run away. Monsanto and Enron had already done their part. US had shown enough character with Tarapur reactor.

Facebook is in the reach of elites of this nation. It represents the collective psyche of this class. Just break into the Facebook server and Hey Presto!, ‘You have the whole thinking of a nation in your hand‘. Now design your policy according to them. If the nation is sex obsessed then you have the gal to make ads like this. And make a controversy as they did with ‘veil’ in Muslim world. A Nobel Laureate and Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk reveals than in 1905 there was no veil to be found in northern Turky, girls used to run around with bare head and on cycles. When a french opera house came there for a show they have to travel 200 miles in southern Turkey to get a ‘hijab’. After they [West] hit on ‘veil’, they [Muslims] tried to hit back and tried to prove their identity by embracing the ‘Hijab’. [Snow – a Novel]. How much energy they could have put in their development rather than defending their identities. A few words can bring a nation down.

Already Google is giving clues how to woo a consumer, even if there is nothing logical between the ad and product. Now, you can have clues how to woo a nation. Once you know the popular mentality is tilted towards US in the one of the most ‘ass-licking’ form, they go ga ga with all their US policies. Even the government does not hesitate to put McKinney consultants on RBI board – which would recommend to give subsidy to corporates a whopping Rs 1 crore a minute while their Public Distribution System is in doldrums due to lack of funds.

Information will be the next ‘WMD’. With so much of information available, who ever control it will control the world. Others will only ribbit some times of other. Its high time India (and her citizen) finds her (their) missing global voice (as China is doing now) if she wants to remain sovereign. Followers never lead. 

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/17/technology/17privacy.html
[2] http://beta.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/article257641.ece


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