Last week, Mark Zuckerberg and his team of engineers came up with a path-breaking feature on Facebook called Snapchat. But they called it 'stories' because like the saying goes, “A Snapchat by any other name would smell as sweet, yet cost half as much”. After this move, it is safe to say that Mark Zuckerberg is the Pritam of Silicon Valley.
Mark: Rajesh, I like this Snapchat. Just change that dog filter to beard filter, and upload it on Facebook.
Rajesh: But sir, what if someone finds out?
Mark: Don’t worry re baba. It’s Snapchat. In 24 hours, everything will go away and nobody will even know.
It is safe to say that the sequel to the movie The Social Network will be a terribly boring one. It will be the story of one man who buys every hot selling app in the market and turns it into a twin of Snapchat. Basically the sequel of David Fincher’s The Social Network will be David Dhawan’s Judwaa.
Of course, there is no denying that Facebook and other social networking sites helped connect a whole bunch of us in ways that we never imagined. But has it gone too far now?
With people continuously broadcasting themselves on WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, it has become extremely difficult to miss someone. Everyone is in your face 24 x 7. There’s no incentive to catch up with that good old friend to discuss what the other good old friends are up to because you already know everything from their social media pages. And if you actually end up meeting that good old friend for coffee, you have nothing much to talk about, because you already know his second cousin’s friend flew to the US for his Master's last week. Heck, you even wished him.
Let’s go back to the late '90s. Consumerism was knocking on our doors to tell us that our doors weren’t branded. The world was finding its feet. Bill Clinton was trying to find his trousers under table in the Oval office. Bill Gates had just become the world’s richest man. You counted the years as 95, 98, 2000 and NT. Gullible investors played into the hands of techies who kept throwing the word ‘dot com’ around loosely. They vowed to never get carried away again (lol).
Internet had just sauntered in. Getting online was a process. You turned on your dial up connection, the modem made a weird noise before taking you this promised world called the internet. Back in the day, the internet was like the Baga beach in North Goa. It was a place where everyone roamed around freely, naked, without any fear of being judged or being at the receiving end of any rape threats.
Mostly, it was an outlet for the introverts. It was where they congregated and thrived. The misfits, the socially awkward and the nerds gathered in this place at nights to express themselves in blog posts and chat rooms while some of them crushed their angst by gaming into the night with pseudonyms that usually ended with ‘zzz’ or ‘123’. The internet was an underground thing. It hadn’t entered the realms of pop culture, yet.
Things began to change in the mid-2000s when Orkut made its entry. It brought internet to the masses. As did Twitter and Facebook. Although, it was still a medium where people expressed themselves with words, and maybe, an occasional picture. Twitter gave a platform for the introverts to broadcast their views to a larger group of audience; it made them famous without having to deal with the trappings that came with fame. This online fame was ideal for introverts. They got the recognition they deserved without having to deal with people and uncomfortable situations that offline fame can sometimes entail.
But post-2010, this hallowed land of the introverts has come under severe threat. The reason for this shift can be attributed to a combination of things. Internet penetration, cheaper data driven mobile plans, the ‘like’ button and front facing phone camera. The first two factors ensured the internet became easily accessible to everyone. The last two gave extroverts the two things they love the most: validation and sharing every experience of their lives with bunch of people they barely know.
With the explosion of YouTube, Vine, Instagram and Snapchat, the internet veered towards visuals, away from its dependence on the written word. And now with the introduction of stories on every platform, the internet has made its final move from being an introvert’s paradise to an extrovert’s wet dream. You need to be a performer to be able to succeed on this version of the internet. You need to have the confidence or barely any self-respect to put on a dog filter and open your mouth in public places to put up snaps. The behind-the-scenes of these pictures look almost as bad, if not worse, than the pictures themselves. Today, the internet has given everyone their own TV show. It’s like everyone can plan their own version of The Truman Show.
But are our lives interesting enough to have material to generate stories for five platforms on a daily basis? I don’t think so. Now I have to go out of my way to do stupid things to generate content across five platforms. The only way I can possibly keep up with churning out so much content is by hiring a digital advertising agency to write, direct and produce interesting social media stories for me. Or, maybe ask Karan Johar to produce content for me. But that’ll be a bad idea because instead of using me, he will give opportunities only to industry kids to star in my social media stories.
So, with Mark introducing stories everywhere, and my life being not as happening as it needs to be, I’m forced to sign off every night like a freaking TV show host: “That’s it for tonight folks and if you missed my Snapchat story, please catch reruns of it on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Facebook.”
Updated Date: Apr 02, 2017 11:13 AM