Of Facebookers and the Facebook-nots

Strange things tend to happen during a recession. A recent report by Economist Intelligence Unit (Global Economic Outlook 2009-10) states that during recession, lipstick sales tend to go up.
Written by ZDNet Staff, Contributor

Strange things tend to happen during a recession. A recent report by Economist Intelligence Unit (Global Economic Outlook 2009-10) states that during recession, lipstick sales tend to go up.

"It is a well known indicator that during economic crises, lipstick sales (and cosmetic sales overall) do well and often rise. This was first noted in 1929-32 and again in 2008 cosmetic sales held up well. This would seem to be due to women deciding they need to cheer themselves up and perhaps make themselves more attractive for their menfolk," said the report.

Even the consumption of cheap alcohol tends to increase during recession. But this recession has seen another peculiar trend--the rise of social networking! I see people spending more time on social networking Web sites like Facebook and LinkedIn than they did a few months back. People seem to have more time these days-–there is lesser work in the office! With the recession deepening, so is the penetration of the social networking.

This is giving rise to the Facebook divide-–those who are on it and those who are not. And those who are not on Facebook are increasingly feeling left out…and, therefore, opting to jump onto the bandwagon. For instance, a 60-something uncle sent me a Facebook friend request last week. And I thought he didn't know how to operate a computer!

Before I say more, I have a confession to make. I maybe writing on technology, but I am not one of those who embraces technology very easily. So when I opened a Facebook account last year, it didn't come as a surprise to me that half the world I ever knew was already hooked onto it, giving a minute-by-minute update of their lives through their profile updates.

Today, I am part of the booming world of Facebookers. Whenever there is a get-together, I am part of the smug lot that knows what's happening in whose life-–who is dating who, who went on a holiday, who has had a bad day at work, who has broken up with who and who is on a crash diet. In fact, I watch a movie only after my friends on Facebook recommend it.

"How do you know my son threw a party last week," asked an aunt, at a recent family get-together. "Well, we saw the party pictures," echoed the Facebookers. "What is Facebook," she asked. "It's not meant for your generation," said a Facebooker. "Why not," she asked. Before anyone could give her a convincing reply, we all received a Facebook friend request from her.

Facebook is probably the best way to kill time. It maybe a great way of keeping in touch with friends, family and old colleagues, but to most it's the easiest way to peep into other people's lives. And the longer your friend list, the more lives you can peep into, right?

By the way, a strange thing happened to me recently. I saw a lady at a press conference and she smiled at me, spontaneously. I smiled back. Her face looked very familier. I asked her "have we met before?" She looked puzzled. And then we exchanged names of all the educational institutions we had attended, the offices we had worked in and the places where we had stayed. Nothing was in common. Yet, her face looked very familiar.

When I got back home and logged on to Facebook, I saw her beaming face on the right-hand side of my home page, under the "People You May Know" section. We had a few friends in common.

Perhaps, in future, it may not be that difficult to figure out where you may have met that "familiar" face. "If we weren't in the same school, college, colony or office, perhaps we have met on some social networking site. Are you on Facebook?" The line between the virtual and the real world has truly blurred.

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