Twenty years ago no one could have imagined the effects the Internet would have: entire relationships flourish, friendships prosper…there’s a vast new intimacy and accidental poetry, not to mention the weirdest porn. The entire human experience seems to unveil itself like the surface of a new planet. – J. G. Ballard
I would like to dedicate this particular post to the medium that has made it possible for a needy person like me to blab about random stuff to get the attention of some
jobless person enlightened soul like you.
I think, if you want to become ‘famous on the internet’ nothing really helps more than a unfulfilled dream.
Wanted to become a writer but had to give up on your dream for something important, like earning a livelihood? Not to worry. Now we’ve got a number of websites like wordpress.com, blogger.com etc. which let you to set up your own domain where you can write about anything ranging from how you blame the government for your irregular bowel movement or a poem about the same, (basically stuff which no one probably cares about). If you use the right ‘tags’ and pimp your blog enough who knows you might find your own audience, a following of a sort who sometimes eagerly wait for your next blog-post.
Remember the earlier days when the only prerequisite to becoming a photographer was carrying around a SLR camera & clicking 1 or 2 mandatory pictures of the hills, the sky, a river or the sewage-line which opens into the river? And top it off with a little photo-shop? Well it’s become much more easier now. All you need is a smart phone, a dish of something which looks fancy & drum roll …… INSTAGRAM ! In some parts of the world it is now mandatory to post a picture of the meal on instagram before starting with the main course. Btw, if you’re on instagram do check out Photo of the Day. They have some of the best photographs on Instagram. A close second is this account owned by your’s truly.
9 years ago Facebook literally changed the way we use internet, or why we use the internet. I kid you not, but I remember going to certain places just so that I could get a profile picture for my Facebook account. I also recall one or two incidents when my friends came to my house, and after the customary pleasantries were exchanged I got a notification saying XYZ tagged you in a post & uploaded a status update saying ‘Bored at Pratik Doshi’s House’ & checked-in on Facebook. This one time, I swear I saw a status update reading ‘My dog died 😦 Please don’t like this status.’
And what’s with people tagging you in random photos just to get your attention? And while we’re talking about facebook, can I also get the conversion rate for likes on a post to food for African kids ?
But Facebook is also very helpful. I swear I would’ve never been able to wish “Happy Birthday Bro !!” to that guy who sat next to me in grade 4 & with whom I haven’t talked ever since.
A very helpful feature that I found was that you don’t need to sign-in or create a separate account for each website. Instead you can use your Facebook account to sign-in. Once I had logged in a ‘video-sharing’ website which had an option saying ‘Share the videos you view with your friends on Facebook’. ARE YOU KIDDING ME ?? Why would I want to do that ? I can’t think of anyone who would choose that option on this particular site I am talking about.
Facebook has also been a reason for a lot of stress for me recently. Have you ever been in a situation where some girl uploads a picture & it’s only after you’ve done naming your future kids in your head that you realize that this might be your one chance to hint at how you feel about her. This is exactly when your brain, which always had a penchant for getting you embarrassed in remarkable ways & scales; convinces you that the possibility of a scenario involving rejection on the internet, which you’ll never be able to erase & will be stored in some server till the end of time; is nothing to be worried about.
You convince yourself that if things go too bad there’s always the story ‘how your account got hacked & you’ve already launched a complaint with the cyber crime cell’.
So you take the leap. You click on that ‘like’ button. And you think of a ‘comment’ which you’ll recount when you tell your version of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ to your kids.
But it’s too late now. You realize that she has a little green dot in front of her name, meaning she’s online & has already noticed that you clicked like. Now you don’t want to come across as a creep who clicks ‘like’ on the photo & then stares at it for half an hour & then comments on it, though that is exactly who you’re deep down.
So you brain-storm.
But most of the lines which you can think of are already taken.
Some guy has already written “Hey looking hot. Howz U ? Long Tym. We shud meet.” What a looser! you think yourself.
Some other guy who has a photo of his bicep as his profile picture says “Looking hot as usual.” Is that his bicep in real? Who Cares? What if he’s her boyfriend? What if he hunts me down & beats me? So you open his profile, & after 10 minutes you find out that it is some guy who actually looks like a kid from those posters about Malnutrition.
You get back to the photo but you notice a recent comment with the exact lines from that Altaf Raja song that you were thinking of using.
It’s at that exact moment when you realize you’re running out of time. So you type :
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Scarlett Johansson is very hot,
And so are you.
And then, you wait. Some 15 minutes later she replies ‘LOL 😛 ‘
And you tell your imaginary kids in your head. ‘And kids, that’s exactly when I realized she was not my type.’
But well, Facebook has also been very helpful for
stalking checking for other prospective ‘mother of your-kids’. If you don’t agree with the last statement I am pretty sure you probably haven’t used Graph search yet.
And how can I forget twitter? A social network where you crack jokes to get Retweets from strangers. And once you gather a substantial number of ‘followers’ it becomes very easy to get some traffic for all the above-mentioned things. Do you remember how earlier you used to get Spam which would be titled ‘Congratulations, you’ve won $ 5 million’ or in some other cases promised photographs of certain ladies in certain degrees of undress. But few days back I got a mail saying ‘Get more followers on twitter.’ Clearly something has changed. Apparently people are so self-obsessed that twitter has also come out with an option where you can download the whole archive of your tweets till today & read them & wonder how did it benefit to think about stuff to tweet & then phrase the sentence such that it is under 140 characters.
I’ve always wondered why social media has been such a revolutionary idea. What’s the reason for it’s success?
I think I’ve found an answer finally.
Since time immemorial man has been fascinated by the idea of other people reading or looking at his thoughts, ideas, dreams or imagination. How else do you explain the cave paintings or writings dating back to some hundreds of thousands of years ago? Why did somebody sit in a cave, painting what the sky looked like, or tried to reinvent a hunting day on cave walls? Why did someone go through the pain of painting how their cities looked in excruciating detail ? Or why did someone paint & engrave detailed descriptions on rock, bark, leaves or animal skin of what they imagined their gods to be ? Why have wise men, across all eras all over the world burned the midnight oil to write to us ? The answer might be same as the answer to the question why Graffiti artists paint the walls, or why as kids one of our earliest instinct is to scribble on walls, or as adults we prefer writing on virtual walls. Or why we tweet the links to videos/articles we find interesting? Or why do we turn a critic on twitter every Friday even when you have only 40 followers out of which 12 look like twitter bots.
I wonder how would future generations react when they find out these virtual caves that we’ve built here, at least before we screw up the planet beyond repair & make it impossible for any kind of life to exist here.
Till then let’s keep engraving the virtual walls.