I am not technologically challenged. I don’t drink, eat, sleep and breathe technology either. So, at the risk of sounding presumptuous, I take the liberty of calling this the common (wo)man’s take on technology. If anybody is listening.
It all began around four years ago, with an innocent Orkut invite from a friend. The days of awkward bumping into the proverbial walls soon gave way to trading ‘Fan’ship on the site to enhance one’s Fan score. You be my Fan, I’ll be yours in return. A barter of admiration. Then came the testimonial fever. From heartfelt accounts (treasured till date as one of the handful of reasons my profile is still out there) to the I’d-rather-live-in-a-friendless-world-than-accept-this variety of testimonials like one I received once. It looked a little like this, I’m sure you’ve seen it below:
THIS IS A TESTIMONIAL
Needless to say, a friend too lazy to sing personalized eulogies of what a boon to mankind I am is no friend of mine. These belonged to the unwelcome Corny Shaayari SMS genre, yet were doing the rounds on profiles, presumably out of social obligation despite their screaming lack of imagination.
Somewhere between the reckless horde for maximizing friend lists and (in many cases) the rush to ‘meet new people’ online, times of till-death-do-us-apart camaraderie with 2 or 3 friends who would die for you gave way to a generation of unimaginative, impersonalized virtual fraternities with 332 profiles, many of which had no existence beyond the virtual world. Let me explain what I mean with an example. I had a friend (in the real world) who would regularly chat with a classmate of ours online, yet when they would physically pass each other by on campus, there was barely a nod of acknowledgment. What is this to mean? That I like the words emanating from your keyboard but do not wish to know you in person? That we may share the deepest of our feelings facing our respective monitors but it is just too much trouble to as much as glance in your direction in the world outside?
Enter Facebook. The next big thing. Suddenly, we Indians realized that our Orkut presences are one generation behind the Western world. Needless to add, the bandwagon effect followed. Of course it helped that the network regulators of campus labs were a generation behind in blocking websites too. So leaving behind an aging and blocked Orkut, we migrated, as a nation, to the latest fad in town. We found the interface excessive, the friend lists wanting and the features downright confounding. Yet, in the true spirit of an assiduous race, we trudged along. We put ourselves through real struggle to grapple with this new technology until we got the hang of it – makes you wonder what we could have accomplished by now if only we had worked a hard on solving our problems of population, pollution, corruption et al. Anyway, with the new beast conquered, the application diarrhoea began. I just blocked all update feeds from Mafia Wars to my profile. Someone reading this 6 months down the timeline may have trouble recollecting what I am talking about. Long story short, armed with status updates through mobiles, FB has successfully made further progress on the road to ‘redundant’izing personal human experiences than anything ever before.
Meanwhile, there has been (and still is) an uncharted world of online portals to ‘meet interesting people’ (wonder where THAT certification goes on!). In this post, however, let me stay limited to the ones that made ripples. Big ones at that.
Which brings me to Twitter and Wave. I’d have said more here about them, but its pretty succinctly summarized in this music video:
It may, I confess, be too soon to comment on the impact they will have on human civilization as we know it. But I can safely say this as of this moment: for all the fervor behind getting Wave invites and adding celebrities to your Tweet follow lists (I just received an ‘RT’ from Nikhil Chinappa through a friend. One pearl of wisdom thanks to Twitter though – Indian celebs, like those from the rest of the globe, can be astonishingly uninsightful.), I am yet to figure out what specific purpose they serve that usual chat, group chat and Facebook updates don’t. But that’s just me. The common Indian (wo)man with a laptop. Not a Twitter Chick.