Facebook and some Lessons in Decision Making

Yesterday, I took a radical decision in life.

Radical not because my decision will change the world. And not even because it will change my life (or will it?). But radical because it was a decision that I thought I would never take..

I am not usually the kind of person who spends days mulling over decisions - I generally like to believe that there is only so much that you can plan and analyse, concerning the consequences of most of the decisions that we make in our lives. If we think about it, none of us know what is going to happen in our lives tomorrow; and I am frequently faintly amused when I see people weighing decisions that they believe will possibly have an impact on their lives 99 years later! In a Singapore context, when you buy an apartment, you are faced with a few options - you can buy a 99-year leasehold apartment or a freehold apartment (and a few more choices in between!). And that's when the number crunching normally begins! Now I am not saying that one approach is right or that it is not good to ponder long and hard over your decisions; nor am I hinting that impulsive decisions are in any way superior - all I am saying is that my disposition generally is to be quite impulsive in my decision making.

And so I must confess that looking back, I am unbelievably amazed that I took so long to make this one particular decision. To a person who went from an "I will always stay in a rented apartment" to owning an apartment in Singapore in the space of one week; to a person who literally concluded the purchase of a house in Ernakulam after seeing some photos on the internet sitting far away in Singapore, the fact that it took almost two years of indecision and contemplation whether "to post or not to post on facebook", must seem incredulous to anyone who hears of it - and I don't blame them; because I myself am dumbfounded by the sheer irony of it all.

But the decision has been made - which is why you are reading this right now.

But I was thinking back yesterday and I thought that there are a few interesting aspects of decision making that I have learnt from this experience - aspects that I am penning down more for my own benefit than anything else - if it resonates with you, good; if it does not, good also - just forget that you read this! After all, these are just a few thoughts from a retrospection of my own personal observations.

What then were some of the factors that influenced my facebook decision?

Bias : Facebook cannot be good - in fact how could something that the whole world is talking about be good? I am sure you have heard of the herd mentality - it's when you do something just because everyone else is doing it. But I am more prone to the opposite. On a careful and brutal self introspection, I realise that I often like to do things that many people have not done or are not likely to be doing. Not always the best philosophy, I have come to realise. But that ruled out facebook-ing for sure!

Ego : I said I wouldn't fall for this facebook craze (maybe because of my bias to start with); and it's been two years since I started saying that. How could I possibly go back on my word now? What will everyone think? Its not very easy to accept the fact that you were wrong. If somebody told me that I am too attached to my ideas, I don't think I would think too much about it - but at least now, I know that there could be some truth in it.

Personality : I am an extremely shy person by nature - almost to a fault. And this whole new facebook culture, this business of shouting out where you were, what you had for breakfast or the book you are reading now, was not a very enticing way of life for me. I preferred my quiet corner and my silence and this new fad threatened to completely invade and disrupt all that - and I was not willing to give any of it away.

Even though in my case it's been fb, I dare say that many of our decision making processes are influenced by one or more of the above. How often do we let our bias cloud our decisions? And once we take a particular stand, how comfortable are we to accept that maybe, just maybe we could have been wrong and could have taken a wrong decision? And how often do we find ourselves stuck in our comfort zones - not willing to peep out of our quiet little corners?

Ok..so now that you are on fb, what happens to all those notions? you may ask. Well, to be frank, I dont know :-) But I am now on facebook and I am still sitting in my quiet corner! And, believe it or not, I have actually put up a profile picture!

And its not been as bad as I thought it would be. Let's see how it goes..

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Comments (10)

Mathews George says...

Your post reminds me of the time I wondered whether to own a mobile phone or not. I weighed the options and even wrote down a debate with arguments for and against! Facebook is a brilliant medium when used well, but now that the algorithms have changed, it's difficult for useful material to turn up on people's feeds as what garners most views begin to turn up more often. Voices like yours ought to be there on fb. I also love the privacy and the corner-like feeling that one's own website gives. It's so beautiful that you have inspired me to purchase real-estate of my own online. Do keep writing. The processing matters to us.

Aby Abraham says...

I joined facebook back in 2013 just to see the pictures of my four grand kids and with the political season getting hot in US, I kept Expressing what is in my mind and now every posting by Progressive Democrats like Occupied Democrats and Blue Democrats finds it's way to my facebook page.

Ramesh says...

Dinu etta, so was it as painful as pulling a teeth? LOL welcome to facebook. Looking forward to many more such posts.

Tom L says...

Many many years ago, I used to pay attention when you asked a question in the class, because you always had great questions and the discussions that followed made the class interesting. You being in the class made the class better. I am expecting the same with Facebook now - expecting to see some interesting thoughts, notes and discussion from you.

Abhijit D says...

Anna, this is the name we use to know you in the institute....Dinoo T Polouse....if I am not wrong...one of the rare human beings I have ever met in my life....welcome Sir....once again...message your number...will talk some day...

Sreechand S says...

Saying me too is like being in the herd... but the fact is that. I share the same thoughts although not so articulate if I was to frame mine when I took the plunge into this social web. This has helped reconnect and helped keep in touch with people who, prior to crossing the threshold, I had considered I would never be able to reconnect. I am sure in a few years time there would be other engines to reconnect and keep in touch - but until then happy FB ing (hate to say happy but at the say time why should one think gloomy - as you yourself put it once decided live to celebrate the decision).
Welcome aboard - albeit in the corner seat that you love to occupy!

Davis T says...

Welcome. I too had similar , but perhaps not so "in-depth" thoughts when I started. Then I thought, ( like most often when I want an excuse ! ) - - what the heck, you only live once. Being on Facebook has helped me reconnect with old friends (one of them being you too !) - seeing them grow old gracefully as I am and seeing their children and their successes etc. That cant be a bad thing. So keep you going as you have started and keep in touch ! Say hello to Preethi as well.

James A says...

I took the plunge a while ago but never posted anything as long as your first. Suspect you are on the way to be a prolific poster. Welcome aboard !

Sajna A says...

Wow into Facebook with a bang I should say! Write up is as good as the profile picture....... Nice to read something that I would probably have heard out of appas mouth or something...... Something similar. I understand genes better!

Biju Mangalath says...

Dins... recently my friend Shibu Augustine compared FB to a fridge (Refrigerator). Though we know there is nothing inside or though you don’t need to open it, you still WILL open it and close it whenever you go near it. Sahi hein na?... It was true in my case! I used to log in for no reason... and scroll through the page… even while doing something important. I found FB and YouTube as the biggest boon to mankind, as the truth behind many ‘conspiracy theories’ hidden by the main stream media today started reaching the ordinary man. But recently some people have also started using this media platform for propagating false information with selfish motives. (Eg. We saw a number of posts of the recent ‘conspiracy’ MH370… floating around the seas). It was simply for these reasons; I stopped opening my ‘fridge’ these days. But as Tom Litto righty said, we are sure you will have something out of the ordinary, especially when these days you are ‘minding your own business’ and have ample time. But the truth is your personal secretary never made us feel your absence.