The Facebook Effect

I looked around the tiny quaint chapel. It seemed like the perfect venue for the music school’s spring recital. The high ceiling with a beautiful glass painting, the gigantic columns that arched gracefully, the dim lights, the magnificent altar and the grand piano that stood on the platform in front of the altar added a touch of surreal ambience to the recital. It was almost as if the music to be played by the students was to be an offering to the Gods.

I brimmed with excitement that was laced with a touch of pride and yet as a mother only could, also experienced the butterflies that flitted in my children’s tummy. They were to perform a duet – an exquisite composition called ‘River Flows In You‘. Oh….how I loved that melodious piece. I eagerly looked forward to their performance even though the practice sessions at home had almost always ended in a quarrel. Maybe it was the aura of the chapel that had restored my faith in the children’s capabilities.

I quickly updated the status on my phone…At Carmel Church waiting for my talented kids to perform.
I switched the iPhone to the vibrate mode and looked through its camera to make sure we could get a good angle and a clear view. After all, I would have to post a video of the performance on Facebook for all my dear ones to see.

I was glad we had arrived a few minutes early. At least we had the time to choose our seats and soak in the serene atmosphere. I voiced my opinion on the excellent choice of venue to my husband. He mumbled in agreement while he keenly looked into his phone to check the latest scores of the Augusta National tournament.

He was a little miffed that I had chosen to leave home just as Tiger Woods was teeing off. If only he paid as much attention to me as he did to TW’s swing – I thought and sighed. “A birdie!” he quipped with a grin. I shook my head. ‘Some things never change‘ I thought And went back to looking at my phone and checked the time. I had two minutes more until the recital so clicked on the FB icon. 15 notifications and 7 updates? Already? My status update had already received 12 likes and 3 comments from around the world. Ooh, I felt loved and popular. I proceeded to the home page to check the news feed.

The first feed – a friend who had changed her profile picture. I was amazed. ‘Wow!!! Did she look hot! How could a mom of three young kids possibly find the time and energy to work out and stay in shape?‘ I felt lousy about myself.

Next post – 215 pictures of a friend vacationing in Bali. I was awestruck. Another vacation? The crystal blue waters and sandy beaches looked mesmerizing but I didn’t have the time to look through the entire album.

Honestly, I was a little envious too. In these financially trying times it was baffling that she could vacation at an exotic locale ever so often.

The self pity was quickly overcome with hope when I saw the next feed. Guess Facebook was reading my mind. Another friend had shared a blog post, How to get rid of stubborn belly fat in 10 days! I would definitely have to read that when I got home

The next update….it was a post on the recent terror attacks accompanied by photographs of orphaned children. How could people hate and kill in the name of God? I felt utter disgust and rage for the perpetrators of terror and violence.

Next was a post on the recent plane crash- a deliberate attempt by the co- pilot? Sadness for the victims of these incidents filled my heart.

My husband nudged me gently to let me know the show had begun. I switched back to the video mode to record my kids perform and quickly realized that I no longer was brimming with excitement. Too many flitting emotions had made their way through my mind and heart in a matter of seconds.

I mechanically turned on the red button and watched through the lens all the time making sure I was getting the best angle. It didn’t seem too clear. Maybe zooming in would help. I was still adjusting the zoom feature when the smartphone informed me that the storage capacity was exhausted. I was exasperated! I glanced at my husband and saw that he had put away his phone to listen intently with his eyes closed. Rather than prod him to start recording I chose to put away my phone too. And that’s when I experienced it….a soul stirring .

The same feeling I got when I heard church bells ring. Up until now I had watched the performance from behind the lens for the benefit of my Facebook audience and it had diluted the experience. It was only when I put the phone away that I engaged my senses fully to immerse deeply into the experience. My daughter’s deft fingers caressing the piano, my son’s intense expression as he held the bow, their notes reverberating through the chapel sounded heavenly… all in all truly a memorable moving experience that was captured only by my heart not a gadget.

How apt that they had chosen to play ‘River Flows In You‘ because that day the it truly did.

Author’s Note: This post was also published in Chicken Soup for the Soul – The Joy of Less, 101 Stories about having more by simplifying our lives.’
To read more of my publications, click here.


  1. Dear Vidya,
    With each day passing, your creative thinking enhances. What a lovely analysis of human psychology! May God bless you!

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