Social Network

Last weekend, my time on social networking sites skyrocketed. Clearing my mailbox, I came across atleast two invites for Google Plus.

At this stage I must point out that I am not an active Facebook/similar stuff user. I just do not have the urge (yet) to update the world about spotting a crow outside my house or buying a yacht. So I was among the last to sign up for Orkut and Facebook (FB) and I am yet to get myself a Twitter account.

When I saw Google Plus though I got a bit excited. All the talk about ‘limited invitations’ and ‘beta testing’ made me feel like a tech pioneer and seemed like a chance to improve my mental image of myself. Exactly the effect that the marketing guys at Google were aiming for.

So I promptly used up some of my 150 invitations quota to invite various friends and family to Google Plus. Actually, I think gmail did it for me by default. I did have a pleasant time though, classifying people as ‘friends’, ‘family’, ‘people who should see your snaps’, ‘people who can give you a ride on their yacht’… you get the drift.

The instinctive organiser in me just loved this. When done, I turned to FB only to find that FB had finally woken up to privacy issues and had adopted Google Plus’s approach to user classification. Normal people would have straightaway given up after having just spent some time on a classification exercise. However, the organizer types would know that this was close to approaching Nirvana.

Compartmentalising people again!! Bring it on, I say.

So another couple of hours went by. Except in the case of FB, I actually have over 200 friends. (Short digression – I am quite sure I don’t talk to 200 people even over a period of one month. How did I end up with 200 ‘friends’, leaving aside the fact that I must have invited around 30 when I was on a particularly competitive streak to up my ‘friends list’. Actually how do people end up with 700 or 800 friends).

By the time I was finished, I had lost track of whether someone in my friends list had also ended up in my restricted list. Anyway, for good or bad, atleast I had definitely restricted viewing rights of a few people. Despite my inactive usage of FB, I still seemed to have a trail of comments and pictures that I was not happy to share with one and all.

The one good thing about the classification was that I could see comments/status updates and so on for atleast 50 people instead of the usual 5 people I normally saw. Despite categorizing my traffic, I was actually getting more not less. Yippee! If I had to classify myself in a FB user category, then I would unhesitatingly put myself down as a ‘lurker’.

I love looking at people’s photos. It is fascinating to see how the erstwhile fat acquaintance has suddenly blossomed into a svelte diva or even better when the opposite has happened. It is fun to see pics taken at ‘Bollywood theme parties’. It is nice to see pics of cute babies without the obligation of actually cooing over them. Infact, sometimes I must say I don’t like the growing privacy talks. How else does one entertain oneself on FB if all I could see was the snaps of my good friends which I can anyway get via mail or a photosharing link? (Which of course is ironic considering I did not want a few people to see my snaps online. But as they say in FB 'It is complicated')

I also like the variety of videos or articles I get exposed to. No one in my immediate friends circle would have updated a link of a fat kid dancing to Salman Khan’s numbers. But a long-ago colleague did and I could secretly chuckle at it though I would have acted all uppity if someone had asked me about the link.

I like the fact that people whom you would not have interacted with much, have interesting things to say and you make a mental note to talk to them sometime in the real world. I like to see what my young cousins from a different generation talk about (even if I am probably just seeing an edited, sanitized version)

And the really good part is that you can ignore stuff which you don’t like.

Unless you do a slight goof up in your classification. Like I did when I put an acquaintance into three different lists. Resulting in roughly 50 updates on her Farmville story. (Another digression – I have never tested out Farmville but how does one get hooked onto bringing up a fake cow in an online world. Isn’t that what people in sci-fi stories do when they are travelling to a distant galaxy and have no hope of seeing an actual farm or getting an actual pet ever?)

The takeaway from my weekend has been that Google Plus’s idea of ‘circles’ is great but I am not sure if that is good enough to move away from FB. Especially now that FB has ‘lists’. Looks like despite being invited to test the beta version, I am still going to migrate only when enough other friends have.


hAAthi said...

my sentiments exactly. and frankly i dont need anymore social networking, which actually seems to just make me antisocial.

and compulsive organizer of everything -- yes thats my other name. so i sat and organised my 89 contacts too :)

Mum's delight said...

I hate farmville as well. Sometimes i used to get so many farmville updates I was highly tempted to unfriend those people. Somehow they've stopped suddenly! Or maybe those people have unfriended me :)

Aparna said...

I was smiling thro'out while reading your post :) Tho I'm not a lurker on fb, most of my close friends and my husband seem to be, so I understand. I remember how excited the husband was when fb introduced the "like" button! No more having to think of what to say :))

Anita said...

hAAthi - ah another member of the OCD sisterhood :)

Mum's delight - Well, if you are not with them, then you are against them I guess.

Aparna - I totally like the like button too.

pigglemum said...

Thank goodness there isn't an unlike button. I would have only some 20 friends left and my family would have cut me off. Speaking of babies to ogle at without cooing... Have now added you to Mia's m5 album so you can do just that.

pigglemum said...

Thank goodness there is no dislike button or I would have only some 20 friends left and my family would have cut me off. Speaking of babies to ogle at without having to coo...have given you rights to Mia's m5 album.

Anita said...

pigglemum - Hmmm. I can totally see how that would be a tempting but very frightening tool.

Oh good good. Z was telling Mia is growing cuter by the day.

Soma said...

very insightful anita - liked the dig at the marketing folks at google!