Skip to main content


I’m on a process to break away from the distractions of social media, primarily Facebook, and spend the time to pursue other interests. This is an interesting experiment, and it has required significant dedication and effort on my part. At the end, though, I’m not certain if I’ll be successful.

I realised that I had a problem when Facebook became the most visited sites in my browser. I should have been working, not scrolling through Facebook like a, well, you know what Jerry Seinfeld has to say. I further noticed that I would tend to log on to Facebook every time I was stuck at work, so that my capacity to tackle problems was reduced to only those that involved cracking a walnut shell. Anything more complex, and I would procrastinate and end up on Facebook.

What I needed was a swift kick in the arse to get off Facebook and into the real world. It came through the means of my latest project which required all my attention. At this time, I logged out of Facebook from my work computer and focussed entirely on my work. The feeling was amazing, as I finally got stuff done. Then I noticed that the very sneaky bastards at Facebook end up sending emails targeted at triggering my fear of missing out (FoMO). These include the following patterns

  1. X posted something new
  2. Y responded to something X did
  3. X commented on his/her own post

The emails become more desperate in their volume as time goes along without someone logging in to Facebook. The peak I saw was three emails a day, all about people Facebook thought I cared about or stalked. Imagine if Facebook were a person!

I responsibly trashed these emails, and took this as a challenge to not access Facebook at all. Eventually, I realised that I couldn’t just shut myself out, so decided upon a once-a-week access policy. I decided that I would access Facebook every weekend, then nothing for the week, and so forth.

As you can probably guess, this experiment also failed. It failed because my friends have almost unanimously decided to use Facebook to coordinate events and activities. In this case, my fear of missing out isn’t unjustified, not accessing Facebook resulted in me missing out on invitations and appearing anti-social. The next week, I had to organise an event of my own, and I used Facebook to do it. During this time, I had to regularly send and receive messages, all on Facebook, and I broke my resolution to only access Facebook every weekend.

Obviously, the biggest setback to my grand plans to get off Facebook is that all my friends are there, and actively use it to converse. This includes friends I meet in real life as well, not just those far away. I could share an office with one of them for a week, and they wouldn’t tell me half the things I would know about them or what they’re thinking from Facebook. This leads me to wonder, how did we ever become this way? When I was a child, all we ever had was a landline. We did not even have cable TV because we lived on the outskirts of the city for a long period. Computers and internet were out of the question. When we finally got a computer, we had to connect through a very slow and very expensive dial-up connection that shared the same phone line. Today, our phones have changed, and travel with us wherever we go. They have all these apps that seem to constantly require our interactions with them. We have this need to be loved, to be constantly appreciated by others, and hitting a simple like button is easy enough for our friends. The analysis is clear, Facebook and other social media is not too different from cocaine or heroin – just as a drug user continues his habit even to his own destruction, we too seek the endorphins released by our body through the trap of interacting with others on social media.

Facebook seems to be like a parasite that seeks to suck out all the information from me while temporarily pumping me full of chemicals that make me feel better. At the same time, I’m struggling with tasks that once felt easy. I used to write much better, and with more ease than I do right now. This post has seemed arduous, winded, and I’m not happy with the outcome. It seems to me that the only real fix is not with a weekend-only Facebook policy, but to invest my efforts in something meaningful to the point that I no longer care about Facebook, or the lives of a thousand odd people who have connected with me there. I had this brief moment of clarity, and it lasted me for a month when I had laser-sharp focus on my research and nothing else. Let’s see if I can keep that up for the year to come.

Popular posts from this blog

Progressive Snapshot: Is it worth it?

I turned 25 last year, which in the highly mathematical and calculating eyes of the US insurance industry meant that I had suddenly matured into a much more responsible driver than I was at 24 years and 364 days of age. As a result, I expected my insurance rates to go down. Imagine my surprise when my insurance renewal notice from GEICO actually quoted a $50 increase in my insurance rates. To me, this was a clear signal that it was time to switch companies.Typically, I score really high on brand loyalty. I tend to stick with a brand for as long as possible, unless they really mess up. This qualified as a major mess up. As a result, I started shopping for insurance quotes.Two companies that quoted me significantly lower rates (30%–40% lower) were Progressive and Allstate. Both had an optional programme that could give me further discounts based on my consenting to the companies tracking my driving habits. Now, I am a careful driver – I hardly ever accelerate hard. I hate using the brak…

Build those noise cancelling headphones

So, here's another DIYLet me start by putting the cart before the horse. I shall start with the credits. This project was done while I was working on my Electronics Design Lab, along with my friends, Srujan M and Indrasen Bhattacharya. The work would not have been possible without the generous help received from the staff at Wadhwani Electronics Laboratory, who ensured that the only thing we did right was to leave the lab on time. This project would also not have been possible without the guidance of our dear and learned professors. It would probably have just about become additional dead weight on the head.Enough with the credits, now, I need to dive right into noise cancellation and how it works.The essence of sound is a pressure wave. The pressure wave, when incident on the eardrum sets into motion the complex mechanisms inside the ear, and after a long path, rather like the Cog advertisement, ends up making some nerves vibrate. The nerves send electrical signals to the brain, …

Reading List, December 2017

Brian Merchant, How email open tracking quietly took over the world, in Wired, 11 December 2017. [Online]: is no longer a secret that every website you visit silently tracks you in an effort to maximise ad revenue. What is less known is that emails also track you, through the use of tracking pixels and redirect links. These techniques were used by spammers and legitimate companies alike when creating newsletters or other mass email, in order to figure out their reach. What’s happening now is that private people are also using these techniques in order to create invisible and intrusive read receipts for email, which is incredibly frustrating from a privacy point of view.My solution to the tracking woes? I only open the plain-text component of email, which gets rid of tracking pixels entirely. Redirect links are harder to beat, and I don’t have a good solution for this.Dan Luu, Computer latency 1977–2017. D…