The many ‘old’ shades of Facebook vanity

Mumbai,Shalini Rawla: If you like Facebook and use it regularly, you are quite old and, well, stuffy. It’s not me saying this, but a research done earlier last year amongst Indian youth residing in metros. I am old and I use Facebook extensively. My maid and I are friends on Facebook as I believe in digital equality too, but not in the same way as Mark Zuckerberg (Free Basics = access to everyone = open opportunities = digital equality, does not cut ice with me).


I decided to investigate this perspective of the youth by observing the timelines of random and close friends – young and old. And was I appalled at what I found out! The 20-somethings are absolutely right. We are what we post. And almost all timelines mirror each other in content. We come across as pretentious and vain. No wonder kids of today call us old aunts and uncles who have made Facebook a veritable ‘Fakebook’.The teenagers of today have completely bypassed this platform in their rite of passage. Pre-teens of course are not allowed on Facebook so all of them feed their social adrenalin on Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat.

Here’s the youth showing you the mirror to your 10 vain reality moments. Brace yourselves for some online rudeness, dear FB users:

  1. Are you changing your DP (display picture) very often? It shows that you want to look and feel younger than you are and, of course, you also want to feel good about yourself from the loads of likes and comments you shall get. Obviously nobody is going to say “what an awful shot or you got the angle so wrong” because neither is the shot nor the angle bad, given that it took you three hours to select that ‘good for compliments’ picture before you uploaded it. The youth sees this as Try-hard Vanity.

  2. God save us from those who do the simplest quizzes and post their results as ‘highest IQ’ or that they look like Sharon Stone in a Hollywood celebrity look-alike quiz. Don’t you get it? That simple quiz was really assessing your foolishness, as your silhouette is perhaps one of the thousands that look like Brangelina’s. So stop living in illusions and also stop posting forwarded videos you have not seen or links you have not read as they are as shallow as your public IQ. Show some respect for your kid’s intelligence, which you posted about yesterday when she scored 90 plus marks in her exams. Intellectual Vanity anyone?

  3. Then there are those who just take political sides and demonstrate how wrong they are in their ideological thinking by posting unverified ‘good’ stories about their neta. God, get a life! Even if you had to support anyone in this whole wide world, all you could find was one from this breed spawned out of the hotbed of politics, crime and corruption? You’ve got to be kidding me. Call it Vapid Vanity, but most oldies are guilty of this.

  4. Got a headache? Broke up? Feeling low? Fakebook is not the place to show your low spirits. There are so many happy fake people who won’t notice your pain. As nobody out there cares and those who do are already in touch with you without you having to announce it to the world. The sooner you drop this Pity-me Vanity, the better it is for Fakebook folks.

  5. And certainly do not spout quotable quotes of other authors to sound erudite. I mean, how do I know what Captain Jack Sparrow said in the movie applies to one of your boring days you are so proud of. Immediately, also stop posting those clichéd stock pics of roses or Gods to wish everyone a good morning when everybody else is fast asleep – they are painful to read. It is neither your own creativity nor your own quip and nor even your own shot. When will you end this plebeian cut paste and forward jobs? Is that how you are at work? I dread to have a boss like you. Beware of the Vain Plagiarist.

  6. So you went to the snazziest place overseas and posed in front of high streets – but did you buy anything there or stay in one of those sexy resorts you posed in front of? Much like the ones who buy luxury cars (does not matter if it is pre-owned) and pose with the vehicle with a fake post saying ‘God has been kind’. Go-burn-in-hell Vanity is very popular on FB.

  7. Then there are those who know chest thumping is perhaps the only way to get positive strokes – so what if you were a speaker somewhere, or did the marathon in a not-so-record time or someone thought your presentation was brilliant. Before you post, go to a shrink to find out why you are so insecure. If you were really that good, the media would already have made a hero out of you and you wouldn’t have to turn to Fakebook. May I call this Plain Vanilla Vanity?

  8. Funny memes, faux pas sign boards, parodies…bring them all, but alas, the sarcasm, humour and dig are lost on all these fake uncles and aunties. And yes more fakeness with everybody wishing everyone they barely know a super awesome year with loads of hugs and kisses. I mean these could be the worst loners in the world who feel ‘blessed’ at wishes casually thrown at them from strangers who would not even remember who they just wished. Do you seriously wish your friends happiness with graffiti on a public wall? Kiss-in-the-air Vanity, this.

  9. And please! No one’s interested in your gluten-free cookies you fed your children or the appetising looking dish you had this afternoon – your burp is louder than you think and offensive smelling. Down with your Mealy Vanity.

  10. Do not just ‘like’ brands that make you get perceived as what you are not. Come on, signing causes do not show how much of an activist you really are, it just shows how lazy you are. At least read about the cause you are supporting and not just ‘sign up’ just because your hip friend did too. The world would be a digitally equal space without this Armchair Vanity.

Mark Zuckerberg, you may be known to the world as a tech genius, a philanthropist who has pledged 99% of his shares to charity. You have met our PM and you re-branded India as the less fortunate tech country where more than a billion people who fight for a daily subsistence do not have internet access. You want to lay open to them a world of opportunities through Free Basics (frankly conveyed your social intent much better, but then it did not have an FB ring to it) in the name of digital equality. And many of Facebook fans are waiting with bated breath when you as the modern Santa shall bestow on a few of them the 10% FB shares you promised as a New Year’s gift.

It does not matter how the world sees you, I see in you a terrific mind reader, a seer almost. A person with deep understanding of human behaviour and its vulnerabilities. You are a visionary. Because it is only you who have successfully created a product that addresses two basic human needs Maslow conveniently ignored in his hierarchy – vanity and greed.

The youth has realised your vanity game. Only the uncles and aunts who call themselves FB fans are signing up to appeal to TRAI for Free Basics. They obviously have not understood the greed game yet – neither yours nor of some telecom operator’s. This New Year, may vanity lose its bite and greed become a genuine act of giving where no conditions apply.

Editor’s note: The writer Shalini Rawla is founder & CEO of The Key Consumer Diagnostics, a Mumbai-based qualitative research and consumer intelligence company