Stories From A Yellow Room

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Social Networking, Anyone???

After the instant success of Hi5, Orkut and Facebook, Internet users are anxiously waiting for another of their “type” to propagate. The popularity and craze for such websites has been gaining momentum since socializing and public display render these sites as tempting and very addictive.
It started with Hi5, a step ahead of messengers, a web page dedicated to you, your likes and dislikes, friends, enemies, lovers etc. Soon people were discovering whereabouts of long lost friends. From Patiala to Paris, everyone was connecting or rather “networking” with one another via means of fancy testimonials. Orkut soon followed and Hi5 seemed to mark its exit slowly. Along with Orkut came a completely new jargon, that of “scraps” and “fans” and some of the vaguest communities one could possibly imagine (such as “my name starts with s”). The “scrapping clan” was soon found conversing in a lingo that easily differentiated an “orkutian” from a “non-orkutian”. The world was gradually shrinking, one could search for any name and find volumous results and voila! There she was Rakhi your 5th std friend, now all grown up and a fancy tattoo staring right back at you.
What is strangely amusing is the profile page one is made to fill up while joining these communities, these pages ensure that such “relevant” information would allow profile visitors to know how “unique you are”. Pages span from knowing your nationality, political views to minute details like the color of your eye socket, weight, height and other such petty yet surprisingly significant details. Thus your identity is soon fragmented, broken down into bits and pieces, perceived and consolidated by strangers and pals alike. Favorite books measure your intellectualism whereas English movies and rock music deem you “cool” and there you are all packaged and ready to sell. People view your profile (sending interesting friend requests and messages) rating it and so the economics of the whole situation is assessed.
Interestingly Brazilians top the list as Orkut users, accounting for 55.81% of total users, followed by the United States and India with 18.94% and 14.92% users respectively (as on 16th may 2007), age group varying from 18-25 forms the chunk of Orkut users. With members increasing by the day, communities are developing at an equal rate as well. Orkut offers a plethora of communities, ranging from religion, beauty tips, music, movies, food and other profound ideas. The aim of these communities is to attract like-minded people with similar interests enabling discussions and exchange of ideas (a Harry Potter community has about 1,58,901 members). Yet the propagation of hate groups is a major area of concern. Communities such as hate- India or anti Pakistan offer extreme views on countries, people and religion, which does not fit the idea of healthy communication. Futility of such communities is undeniable as they multiply the growth of extremist ideology, which in today’s world is unwanted. Religious and cultural tolerance should be reinforced thereby keeping a tab on personal views, which tend to hurt sentiments.
The ghastly number of scraps, which people see as a sort of accomplishment, reinforce the fact that humans especially females are capable of talking profusely. With private thoughts and conversations, being laid out bare for public viewing, individual discretion is distorted. People usually refrain from giving a thought to the kind and number of people who can have access to these conversations thereby acting imprudent. Personal pictures that are carefully selected (with an orbit-white smile, loreal hair and scenic backgrounds etc) are casually put up without knowing the repercussions of such an open display. Recent scams wherein personal information has been distorted and misused have been in limelight.
It is indeed a matter of praise that such websites have enabled thousands of people form new bonds, rediscover old friends, find like minded people etc yet not everyone aims for the same. Authenticity of such groups is lost when people aim at mere private publicity, sending out unwanted messages degrading the idea of authentic socializing. “Wanting happy friendship” messages become a matter of amusement as wasted romeos try their luck endlessly hoping to form “lifelong friendship”, but in vain. Well the point is clear, man is a social animal and cannot live in isolation so let the 21st century animals sorry men “orkutize” themselves giving out “hi5’s” to all the “faces(book)” out there, you never know when you will be “tagged”.
On this note let’s wait for another such online community and see what special features it has to offer.
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