When I say ‘social networking,’ what’s the first thing to tick your neurons? Facebook, isn’t it?
But, a long ‘e-time’ ago, even before Facebook was probably conceived, there was this little social networking scrapbook budding out from Google, called the Orkut.
And with that had rocketed the age of word scraps instead of metal ones, of memes and puns, and of big, bleating ‘fraaand-sheep.’ The entire idea being new and hot, there were more stalkers than talkers, with the freedom of speech and expression used incessantly, sometimes more annoyingly, over and over again. And why not? It was blatantly free after all, or rather, parent-free. And it was all germy and contagious with a wide open space to speak and do possibly anything. And more to this, it was fun.
It was the birthplace of pseudo-intellectuals, fighting over Ayn Rands and Chetan Bhagats, or simply over cricket and football, or even over whether or not a profile picture should not have the user’s photo. Moral police had their stage set and so had the rule breakers. Orkut was essentially for all, irrespective of culture, caste and creed. There were more ‘Farmvilles’ than ‘Candy Crush Sagas’ played. ‘What’ had become ‘wat’, ‘I am’ had become ‘m’ and ‘dat’ was taken for something ‘kewl.’ It was the birth of a new lingo. And there was this appealing ‘poll’ facility. How we loved taking random polls just for the sake of it!
Testimonials were like honor letters written by the President himself. We would ask for them, beg for them and flaunt them in our profiles. And one written without a request was like a bonus plus. And was it not that we could actually learn who’s visiting our profiles? Ah! Those butterflies in our stomach and those silly adrenaline rushes. Did we not love it? Scary in one sense, but ya, ‘kewl’ !
So, why then on earth did it fall down like a huge drop-shot?
Because Facebook was stronger. In every way. It had built a strong, unbreakable ‘wall’ wherein no matter how much one pisses, the bricks would always be dry. It was a lot clean, hygienic and pseudo-intellectual-ish conversation free, kind of. More the color, more the mercury rising. But Facebook was wholeheartedly blue, more corporate (and later, semi corporate).
So, people migrated from Orkut into this new country and lived happily ever after. Orkut was deserted. It was dying. And a decade later, it gave up the ghost, completely.
But isn’t Facebook becoming meaningless too? With daily requests of unending Candy Crush Saga and mindless photo tagging? It’s boring now with nothing more to give to its users except an occasional news or two about Zuckerburg cracking some Mandarin jokes or that he and Adidas are probably inseparable. Okay it’s panache, it’s elite. But, it’s unexciting. And uncreative.
So, however unhygienic Orkut was, it shall always be missed. Like that old grandpa next door, lively and always caring to pass a smile even if back-broken and woe-begone. At least it had kept us like who we are for real.