Coming out

On FB that is. It really has felt like a monumental move, like coming out into the world, marking another checkbox in social-acceptance. After weeks of everybody and their aunt telling me how much I am missing out, what a great “marketing tool” (read: pimp-mobile) it is, last week I  decided to bite the bullet and do it. I came back out into the world, in a way that my little world will accept me.

Real-talk: I am in the midst of a fairly big overhaul for the food blog. Some changes, large and small, are afoot. In time, I will be taking the blog down to smooth the edges, and introduce something new. Since the husband and I are managing this change ourselves, learning on the go and working out the kinks on our own, it might take a while before we get a slick, smooth site up and running. There may be a brief period of time where you do not have access to Hungry & Excited.

So if you’re interested in staying in touch, or in tune with the food blog in its newer avatar, do like the Hungry & Excited fb page, because it is where you will get updates for what is to come.

I turned on the fb charm on myself, albeit in a slightly contrived and unnatural way than I’d have liked to, because it seems blog -> website -> fb page is the only logical progression these days. I fought it for as long as I could, and the last straw came when I realised that the proposed Hungry & Excited overhaul that has been in the works for a while, might result in some feeds and links being broken. So I figured an fb page could act as a temporary space of interaction. I hate having succumbed, I hate it every morning when I have to sign in and grit my teeth and force myself to make a customary “update”, but I’m trying to make peace by looking at this as a good time for a healthy purge in subscriptions, hoping that those that only those who enjoy the cooking and photo sharing, those with whom I have a healthy exchange of information and learning, and with others like me in the foodie-novice space, will come back to reconnect. And the rest will peacefully fall off the grid.

So what’s new on fb for a returned user like me? On the surface, nothing really. Everything looks new, but more like a non-user-friendly rearrangement of what was. I find everything a lot more complicated than it used to be. Though I asked around and everyone seems to think otherwise. Maybe I am just rusty.

I have to say, for someone who had been away close to two years and not missed it at all, for someone who was a serial status updater and serial photo uploader just two years ago, coming back has left me more than underwhelmed. There was the initial tizzy of rediscovering people, re-adding them, constantly getting bombarded by requests, and dealing with a gazillion notifications, but in just 2-odd days that died down and I had the okay-now-what? moment too.

What I do love is the access to groups and pages, which was just about starting off when I decided to get off fb last time. The idea of mini forums of discussion and interaction seems to have picked up a lot more steam in the interim. That, is definite improvement, a new pro. I know it isn’t just me who seems a bit bored or meh with the concept of fb-as-it-was, because my newsfeed doesn’t really change all that much and as often as it used to. Almost everybody else on my list, seems to have outgrown doing the things we once did all the time on fb — pictures, status updates, yada yada. I find more activity on the pages and discussion forums. I didn’t really  need yet another channel for that, as if I don’t get enough of it on my own blog, the scores that I frequent and my mostly-here-for-the-reading attitude to twitter.

When I was away I sometimes missed the number of intelligent dialogues and debates I got to witness, the links that were thrown around that I would probably not have seen otherwise, but now I find even that noisy, shrill and unnecessary. I find way too many people engaging on huge debates on fb, and I am not sure too many of them do anything about any of the issues in real life. I feel its better to do a little bit in whatever way you can, and keep quiet about it, than vehemently share opinions all over the place and do nothing at all. As for the links, I find them all on twitter, where I choose what I want to see, minus the unnecessary onslaught of pictures, sponsored feeds, game requests and check-ins (yes, some people still do that shit!).

I look back to what I missed when I was away form fb, and I cannot think of much. Since I had already thinned down my friends list beyond recognition, eliminating those I didn’t care to connect with, it was easy to get off, stay off and not want to come back. With the real friends that I have, I hung on to gtalk, whatsapp, lots of email and the good old telephone calls to stay in touch. Oh look! We managed to be friends even outside of fb! So it seems that charm of staying-in-touch is not the central one anymore. I have to admit, I wasn’t even tempted and haven’t yet indulged in any fb stalking, also something I used to do a fair bit. In fact I barely even look at my personal page, friends list or newsfeed anymore.I log in, go directly to my groups feed, scrool, read, log off.

I’ve realised that fb has transformed itself from being the place to connect with people you once knew, to find people you’ve lost touch with, and stay in touch with those in your circle to this massive marketing vehicle to sell pretty much anything. Fb has given a lot of mediocre opinions a lot of importance. Its become a place to breed mediocrity of all kinds. Every second Johnnie with a DSLR now has his own firstname-lastname-photography page. Every blogger like me has a page to pimp our work. Every business is screaming offers and sales at us. Which is okay by itself I suppose, and which is why I am there too. Pimp. Pimp. Pimp.

But when did it get so easy to take the shortcut from hobbyist to expert? Fb seems to have become the quick route, the one that bypasses the rigour and learning that used to go into mastering any art form or skill. Take the fb route, circumvent the long and hard way, and jump directly to the end where you have a million fans.

I’m sorry if I sound old-school and aunty-like, but this is what I really believe. Actually I’m not sorry. Because 10,000 likes does not equal to any kind of real validation about my writing or cooking skills. Even a million likes on my page and a thousand followers on the blog will not make me a chef. Not unless I go through the rigour of culinary school. Not unless I finally go to baking school, put in the 10,000 hours of effort that are needed to make me an expert or an outlier and then I get out there and wow you. No matter how many nice things you say about my food pictures, will encourage me to rewrite my bio calling myself a photographer. I am an amateur hobbyist at best.

Until then, I am just an average home-baker, an over-enthusiastic home-cook, looking for yet another way to reach out to like-minded people. I’m just another sucker, pimping my blog on fb.

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21 thoughts on “Coming out

  1. Oh! You are back on FB and I was just thinking of starting a 365-days-without-FB project ! :D I am a FB maniac and though it seems to be true I just cannot digest it that you need FB for everything. I have been stuck with this site since last 6-7 years, logging-in every single day, updating statuses, pictures, etc and now I think – for what? Life existing pre-FB too and it was awesome even then. I hate to be so dependent on something virtual for bringing awesome-ness to my real life. That’s what led to me thinking of that project.

    You are right. Every tom, dick and harry are creating pages about their photography/cooking and stuff and the transition of something from a hobby to expertise has become so easy ! Too easy to be the truth ! The thought itself is frustrating ! Anyway, its good to know you are sensible enough to accept these things and start a page. You have my “like” ;) Good luck with it, more than the page, for the real cooking ! :)

    More than your page, I am excited about the site getting a make-over, waiting for that. Until then, I will drop in to your FB page, of course till I am there !

    • I highly recommend a no-fb time. You’ll see how little it actually adds value to life. Then again, I dont think FB is evil, its what we do with it that counts. I hope that my page too will always only remain about sharing cooking and nothing else. And even liking the fb page is not a compulsion, though it will probably be the only place for updates when I go take the blog down temporarily :) Or else you can always mail me to check.

      • As Oscar Wilde said, “Everything in Moderation, including Moderation.” :)

        And I like your website, your way of writing down the recipe and its variety more than the fb page itself, hence the like!

  2. I come to most posts these days, pore over what to say and then go back without commenting cos we’ve discussed this in some conversation or the other :).
    I love the honesty in this post. Beautiful.

  3. Ha! Congrats on the FB page :)It takes a lot of effort..but I still love reading the blog

    I have been off FB for over 1.5 years now..I have an account but I hardly access it..rather I never access it! I dont think I have missed out on much in life…

    There was a phase when I was totally addicted..but now I think I can live without it…I am an email/sms person I guess :)

    I loved the way you wrote about FB..so much to what I wanted to say and much better said than I would have ever said it :)

    • Yeah i think i am an email/sms person too. Probably why i was also happy with fewer friends in life than hoardes of them and not knowing what brought us together in the first place.

  4. I am an FB addict… but I do not fall into the category of people who are trying to de-FB themselves.. I think I am happy with the entertainment it provides me.

    • I know a lot of people like you, and I can see why it is so entertaining. I dont seem to find the comedy in it anymore. Maybe all the fun people are the ones I eliminated from my friends list bwahaha!

  5. All the best for the new Hungry and excited site, waiting for it.
    I so agree with the last bit, 10000 hours of practice bit. There are so many things I am good at, but so few things I excel in. I am still not able to pin down that one thing where I want to put in my 10000 hours :( And I am already 26.

    • Its never too late i think. I am still not able to pick one thing either. There are many things i want to do. And i honestly dont know if i will ever literally clock 10000 hours :) but i do want to learn baking in some sort of academic/professional environment and learn it the right way.

      And 26 is good :) im pushing 30!

      • why don’t you enroll then? Why wait? Plus you are working from home, you can push back certain things that are not too important and just take the dive.
        Joining a baking class has been on my mind too, for more than a year, but like you said, there is no dearth of people who want to do that. HOw am I any different then? Do i want it really bad? Is it the only thing I want to do? Will I give all that it takes? I don’t really know. And honestly, I am scared to give up that security of a job and just go behind a hobby, I am too chicken for that. It takes courage to take such life altering steps. Even if I am a good cook, I am not sure how can that translate into money. At the end of the day we all want to earn our bread butter and some cheese also. I am just clouded in confusion and it makes me very unhappy. This is the most articulate I have been, I guess, in describing my state of mind. But I admire you for your courage, you should definitely go ahead and just enrol for that class. Cheers!

        • Joining a baking course is on the cards for me. I have a few places in mind in the US, so its not as simple as just enrolling and going right now, unfortunately. But I have it sort of planned, and hopefully in time I will go.

          I dont think you should worry about how different it is from everybody else. As long as you are passionate about something and your heart says you can do it, you should do it to the best possible way you can. Not everyone has the luxury of quitting a job. I can completely understand the pressures of earning bread and butter. It took me so long to get to a point where I could do that. And even that, I was able to do because of a lot of real-life situations that allowed it. I dont think I could have done it any sooner, it happened in its own time :)

          • Yes, thats exactly what I told my husband just a while back, that at some point in future when I feel fully ready, I will just quit.
            And US sounds fancy, wow! Hope it works for you the way you want

  6. If it’s any encouragement, a friend of mine clicked on your page after I ‘liked’ it on fb and she told me that she really enjoyed reading your posts and I gave her a slightly proud ‘yup, that’s my cuz-in-law!’. So the pimping is working!

    • Haha, thats definitely a bonus then. I was aiming mostly for people who are already here and might not want to miss out. If in the bargain it reaches more people, thats more than welcome :) Thanks for the vote of confidence!

  7. Ahhh don’t see it like that – I find FB to be quite banal but I have to admit its a great place for discussion and community. And that’s what I primarily use it for (and yes the odd random stalking. Old habits :P). I haven’t pimped my FB page as much as I probably should because I am still working out what I want the blog to be. That being said, when I launch my new blog (yes, a new blog coming soon!!) I’ll be using FB :D

    • Hehe i think we’re saying the same thing. Banal but good for communities. Thats all i use it for. And will pimp new site when it is ready and up for use :)

      I cant wait for your new website!

  8. Somehow this post resonates so much with my own state of mind right now. Especially the huge debates on FB where people get all sentimental and emotional, calling others arm chair activists when debating on FB and doing nothing outside of it is exactly that! ‘I feel its better to do a little bit in whatever way you can, and keep quiet about it, than vehemently share opinions all over the place and do nothing at all. ‘ is bang on. You hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately for me, I ended up creating another FB account as a blogger and yes, as you say – FB seems to be more marketing than anything else. Pimp. Pimp. Pimp. Most of them seem to have their own agenda – push your blog, push your book, push your publishing house, anything! But I must say that I ended up finding some really good friends because of the blogger profile FB too – friendships that have now moved out of the virtual world into the physical. And for that I am thankful. The older account I had – I must have deactivated it a million times now and come back after a month or two every time. But as you’ve said it – even for me – the true staying in touch things with my good friends happens outside of FB now. Whatsapp, phone calls, emails. Even with the blogger ones who have become good friends. But somehow I keep the FB active – just so once in a while I login and find out what’s happening around the world! :) For the most part, nothing changes! But hey, welcome back!

  9. Pingback: 365 done. Many more to go. | hAAthi

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