afaqs!

Guest article: Abhishake Das: From social networking to social revolution

By Abhishake Das , New Delhi | In Digital | October 29, 2010
How people graduated from one social platform to the other despite the complexity in each one

Here is the psychological evolution of a human being in the world of changing social platforms - and what goes on in his/her head. We are all averse to change, you know. Mental inertia.

So, do you remember how hard it was for you to upgrade from Yahoo Messenger to Orkut? It was too much of a change - was it not? Suddenly, you had the power to share your pictures and see what everyone you knew was up to - and with whom. It was exciting and confusing, was it not?

Do you remember how extremely confusing it was when you first got your hands on Facebook? So many options, protocols - and above all, the setting seemed to be something you would never be able to get your head around! People were tagging, sharing, writing on walls. And you, the fresher in the world of social networking, were trying to understand why someone would try to make their lives difficult when there was a simpler option!

Some of you might still feel the same - but the current Facebook stats prove that you are a minority now. Then, slowly, you got the hang of it. The games, the tags and the likes - it all suddenly made sense to you. You realised how it was better to have privacy settings, so that 'Fraandship' requests were kept to the bare minimum. How it is great to have control over your content, to share it with the ones you like and hide from the ones you don't.

Facebook didn't make it very easy for you, either, with constant changes in user interface (aka 'how it all looks') and changing privacy norms (aka 'how come suddenly everyone can see my pictures again?').

However, you sailed through just fine. It was like learning something new, something specialised and you took pride in your knowledge of it. Much before you knew it, you were spending all your spare time on a site that actually doesn't have anything of its own. You might still not know, but you had become just as much a part of the Web 2.0 wave as you are of the traffic jam you face every day while trying to get back home.

While you were still in awe of the fact that people were actually geo tagging their whereabouts - and how great all this really was, another wave - a much bigger, better and stronger wave - was already racing you to the shore. You did see some mentions of it here and there. People talking, news channels mentioning celebrities using it and possibly, tried it yourself once in a while.

Wow, there were so many people here - and they were all saying something, or quoting someone. But why? I'm sure you asked yourself that. Why in the earth would people find this Twitter thing interesting? It's just words - and links that did not have '.com' at the end. Why would people choose this over precious Facebook - where there were games, pictures and videos? This will not fly, you told yourself, while all the people who followed you to Facebook followed you here. The reaction was never neutral. It was either a fan boy or a cynic.

There were some more - LinkedIn - the place where all the professionals were; Flickr -where you saw people put up really cool pictures; and YouTube - where videos played; and not in that chronological order, either. So, as life went on as usual in the farms and the mafia worlds, there was something that you did not notice.

A step forward. A step towards the general evolution in a society - a community. A step towards taking, sharing and creating social responsibilities. A point of view for everyone to see. A step forward from individual democracy to political democracy. It was a step from social networking to social revolution.

And to think that here, in this country, marketers are still trying to figure out whether online is the right media mix, is nothing but sheer ignorance.

(The author is social media enthusiast and ex-creative director, Reprise Media India.)