Girl, Interrupted

Niharika M

Bidding the baap, a Goodbye

| Updated on September 26, 2014

Orkut 2

All that is presently right with the world can be traced back to one invention: Orkut. The fable goes, dangerously close to a Bollywood movie with a dukhi ending of course, that Orkut Büyükkökten started this social networking site to search for his lost/missing/dead/absconding girlfriend. However, what started as a selfish search for love and happiness ended up becoming an act of self-sacrifice. (Yes, that is a perfectly legitimate interpretation in the age of sensationalism.) While Orkut never really found the girl, he did help bring together many, many who were meant-to-be. First, let us take a moment to pray for and thank this girl.

Orkut stands for a lot of firsts that social media pundits fail to credit it with. The absolute and complete murder of English (guilty): from hiiiiiiiiiiiii to fraaaanship with me, and hi baby, to sexxxxxy, and other distortions of a more serious nature such as |-|R|$|-|| - F!N/\L YR !! and ☻ŋįšђ☻ on a song♪♪♪ . Some names like Anu……………, Radha Life is Beautiful, Mohit SiNgInG SpaRROW, emanated so much sadness that one was immediately overcome with pity, laying the foundation for a lifetime of unhealthy relationships. Some failed to carry forward these names to successor Facebook and the next generation may mourn the loss of this legacy, which will, however, be buried in a well-insulated, e-graveyard.

Cyber stalking is a crime now, punishable by law. But in the time of Orkut, we would befriend strangers with a carefree innocence. There was so much trust and faith in human goodness that even when some pictures of a friend’s turned up, terribly morphed, on a porn site, we just shrugged our shoulders and laughed it off. These things happen, don’t they?

The Orkuters (or Orkutians, if you may) worshipped the real heroes through their profile pictures, i.e. big screen actors, with a kind of sincerity that has been completely replaced by the narcissistic selfie-culture. Now, artificiality, greed for likes and a voyeuristic Instagram have taken over pure and simple celebrity love. I think I now understand why my parents and grandparents harp on about “the good old days”.

Expression is integral to human life and it was no different on Orkut. One could show an unabashed love for another through “testis” (Testimonials). In a testi, you talked about your long friendship with the person you were writing it for, a leverage for future blackmail, threat, obligation and forms of bargain in the off-chance that your relationship fell apart. Most people had to ask, plead and for the promise of one in return, one earned their testi. In the testi, you said things such as: you rock, don eva change, luv u loadsss or used superlatives like bestest, coolest, smartest, etc. And then the whole world would see the light shining on that beautiful testi at the bottom of your profile.

Talking about profiles, the information that one chose to reveal in them was the best way to find way into someone’s heart. Orkut was quite the provider of opportunities for finding one’s intellectual soulmate. Favourite books, movies, music, TV shows, you name it, they had it. You could also rate yourself on parameters of looks, body size, hair and best features because Orkut knew that most people studied themselves fairly objectively and were honest about it. And, because, the creep-quotient behind these questions was really negligible, it was widely responded to.

It strikes me that I am probably being a little too critical. Afterall, Orkut is soon going to be dumped into a black hole of e-waste, perhaps never to surface again. As a thank you cum goodbye gesture, I plan to go through my profile, my scrapbook and most importantly, the testimonials, and hope my self-esteem will raise to impossible levels. After this rite of passage, I will make a promise to myself that one ought never to forget the place where it all began: the beginning of the end.

Published on September 26, 2014

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