When Facebook acquired WhatsApp two years ago, the latter's co-founder Jan Koum had assured that the deal wouldn't affect the privacy of its users.
However, a month ago, the company announced that it desires to integrate deeply with Facebook, meaning it plans to share more information, leaving no account for any privacy. WhatsApp's new impinging policy of sharing fundamental yet crucial information like phone numbers and "analytics data" with its parent company Facebook is alarming.
The more information it shares with Facebook, the more intruding it would become for the users. The giant's business decisions may come at huge price of the customer's privacy.
But have you ever imagined a life without Facebook and WhatsApp? Will we be able to function without using them? Have these questions ever haunted you?
A week without Facebook and WhatsApp!
Considering how dependent I am on these platforms, it was important for me to take a step back and introspect if I could I actually lead a normal life without using Facebook and WhatsApp. As part of a social experiment, I decided to go off Facebook and Whatsapp for one week, just to experience how it affects my daily routine and how it impacts my life. For you never know, in near future, users may be forced to completely quit the two networking platforms for privacy reasons. We all love updating our Facebook with pictures and statuses of what we are doing, but are we comfortable with the company sharing our personal data without our permission?
I don't think so !
I took up the challenge of keeping away from the two mediums to see what exactly I go through during the course of one week. The next day was my birthday so I decided to kick-start the challenge a day after it, for I didn't want to kill my birthday plans.
How did I manage to pull it off?
It felt a little unnatural as I uninstalled the apps from my phone for I had no idea what the outcome would be. The first day seemed a little off and I felt disabled for I couldn’t contact anyone the way I usually did. Also, I wasn't whiling away time -- liking the vacation photos of people we never meet or like. Not that I've been a tech freak or had a highly active life on social media, I'd still never imagined a single day without Facebook and Whatsapp. I've been on Facebook for almost 8 years now, it is synonymous with my existence.
How did people react?
Although I'd initially decided to not reveal about the challenge to anyone, I did end up telling my folks about it. Well, there's a reason to it. I very well knew my parents would overthink the situation and come up with theories of me being depressed! Considering how active they themselves are on WhatsApp, it was the best to just let them know and spare me the interrogation. Incidentally, my father expressed his genuine concern over the privacy matter and encouraged me to try the experiment.
Three days into the challenge and few of my besties called to check if I'm "alive". It was good to know that people did take notice that I'm missing from the circuit. However, after learning about the reasons as to why I took a break from the most popular platforms that define the existence of us, they felt worried too.
During the course of that one week, the most worried was my boyfriend, who felt communication was becoming harder for we mostly talk over WhatsApp calls, since they are free of cost. However, this resulted in us meeting in person more often and increased the amount of time spent together. All said and done, the entire process made me realise that the two most popular apps weren’t really my lifeline as I thought them to be.
What was the experience?
In the course of this one week, I discovered a few things about the way I function. Despite working for a social media company, I could happily survive without the two most popular platforms.
Talking about my social life, I was meeting people, having real conversations, having "real" interactions with people. Phone calls were a good substitute. And most importantly, I had a busy schedule and work to look forward to. I didn't ever feel the "void". What could it possibly mean? Does social media really take priority in our lives, or do we just replace it with real life activities? There was a time when we all were surviving without digital medium and happily so. It wasn't as hard as I thought it to be.
One of my friends highlighted that it's unpragmatic to quit the platforms for that's how we connect with the "entire world". Is it possible for them to be replaced by text messaging and other similar apps? Perhaps yes, if an entire network shifts to a platform! There are other methods of communication that still exist.
Having said that, I'm not sure whether I would have been the same, had I spent the entire week without my phone. The one week led to increased number of longer phone calls and one on one interactions. It made me realise that we would contact people who really matter to us, any which way.
In fact, I believe Facebook missed me more than I did!
(Feature image is representational)
(Feature image source: Reuters)