Social Media ID Portability, a thought

We already have MNP or mobile number portability in India. That is, the ability to keep the same phone number but freely moving across different Service Providers. That helps us to choose the best plan for ourselves and keeps the Service Provider companies’ exorbitant price hikes in-check. We also have multiple Cloud Services providers, Data Storage providers, Banks, and so forth where we can change our service providers to choose what suits us.

apps blur button close up
Photo by Pixabay on

I was listening to this podcast by Guy Kawasaki where he was interviewing Dr. Sinan Aral, who is an MIT Professor and has written a book called: The Hype Machine: How Social Media Disrupts Our Elections, Our Economy, and Our Health–and How We Must Adapt.

Dr. Aral suggested this strange-sounding but still worth paying attention to idea: Why can’t Social Media companies act like Social Service Provider? Each of their users (i.e. us) should be free to change the service and move over to another while taking all of their data and friend lists with them.

For example, say I have 800 friends on Facebook (I had 1000+ but one day I cleaned it up) and say I am not on Twitter (I am but I just tweet about the weather). But I am done with Facebook’s privacy rules and constantly showing up of ads on my Timeline. So, if I want to move on to somewhere else, I have to lose all my data then and there. I would lose all my private messages, photos, comments, and so on. Instead, I should have the ability to either download everything that Facebook has recorded with my account (which is after all a unique ID). Or, I should be able to port it all to another social media website, say Twitter. Of course, each one has its own functionalities but in general, they all have Text, Photos, Replies, and private messages as their primary functionality. Moreover, I should also be able to connect to (via APIs) any user (or block them everywhere) from any other social media website.

This idea would help regulate not only the companies who just flaunt the monopoly and power they have over people’s lives, but it would also increase accountability on part of the user. Basically, all these companies are just service providers and they should behave in such a manner. Really interesting if this happens!

One downside from user’s perspective is that this would need a user to lose their anonymity to an extent if they show up with their real name on Facebook but you want to say whatever comes to their mind on Twitter as anonymous. But we need to choose what we find more precious, our data or our freedom of expression.

You can listen to the full podcast here where he talks further about other things which make Social Media what a behemoth it is:

So I recently watched: The Social Dilemma

Most probably you will read this on your phone with numerous notifications lurking around for your attention which will prevent you from reading this completely. If you had clicked a link to reach here, the link would be from Facebook, or Twitter, or LinkedIn, or some other social media site. There is nothing I can write here which can make you use social media sites less frequently. I have close to zero persuasive power to ask you to keep your phone away and do something better with your life. But, let me give another try.

Continue reading “So I recently watched: The Social Dilemma”

So I recently read: Deep Work by Cal Newport

Imagine you’re working in your office cubicle. There is a looming deadline at hand and whenever you are trying to concentrate, someone laughs hysterically loud from a distant corner. You mutter some abuses under your breath and try to concentrate harder. You try to mentally block the unnecessary noises along with stuffing your fingers into your ears, to added effect. Even now you can hear the printer, someone walking behind, and generally distracting lights but you tell yourself, it is okay and that you can still read the very important document without which finishing work would be difficult. As soon as you reach the second paragraph, a pop-up window shows up and the right-hand corner of the desktop. That can be ignored, for now, you assure yourself. You reach the third paragraph and then your phone lightens up. There is another joke on your family WhatsApp group which is there just for ruining whatever concentration you had built till now. You move on but before you reach the next chapter, notifications galore. Someone visited someplace on the company’s money and want you to see their airport check-ins on Facebook. Or some political upheaval has happened in the capital, your news alert shouts. Or twitter has just lost it’s, what do they say, collective shit, for the 109th time today. And there goes your concentration out of the window and gives up on you.

Has it ever happened to you?

Or as they show in ads, are you fully frustrated with distractions, notifications, social media nonsense, and inability to concentrate for the attention span now almost nonexistent?

If yes, this book is the perfect antidote you need for your addiction to social media, the poison of modern-day life.

Does your office appear like a fair to you where people are just moving incessantly for no reason whatsoever?
Does your office appear like a fair to you where people are just moving incessantly for no reason whatsoever?

Deep Work by Cal Newport tries to do only one thing. It tries to reassure and encourage you that if you really want to do some productive work, which he calls ‘Deep Work’, you have to really boycott everything you think isn’t relevant to the work. The book has several examples of people who really mastered the art of Deep Work and produced astonishing work of literature, science, art, and so on. All they did was to cut themselves off from the material world and concentrate. They trusted their brain to do the knowledge work, they had set out to do and when their brain got free from all the mess around, it produced the desired results and the satisfaction which is often missing from the work. For example,

“Mark Twain wrote much of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in a shed on the property of the Quarry Farm in New York, where he was spending the summer. Twain’s study was so isolated from the main house that his family took to blowing a horn to attract his attention for meals.”

The book repeats several times, that social networking (and mobile phone), is nothing but a poison which is damaging our culture and innate mindset of humans that we are getting consumed by it and not the other way around. It mostly takes the example of modern knowledge workers, say, people who code, write, think, and create.

It also tries to propagate a beautiful fact which is totally unlike what you have been told till now. We are told to be approachable and we are expected to reply to every message, email, text immediately. Deep Work suggests becoming hard to reach. Not only it would make you better at what you’re currently doing instead of wasting time replying to things which can easily be dealt with later. But it also makes others understand that you treasure your time as equally as money.

Reading this book coincided with my getting fed up with social media and I feel no remorse whatsoever not being a regular on Facebook and Twitter.

You can buy it from here:

Getting Viral is Good/Bad?

Don’t worry. I am not going to post the latest (as on date you read this) meme here which just went viral on social media. You might have already got fed up with it and 10000s of versions of it. It might have been done and dusted by now. Or you might not have encountered that yet. It will hit you soon then. With this Viral popularity, someone would get a huge exponential surge in their follower’s list. Some viral people would get economic benefits too. Some will try to be viral explicitly by sharing explicit content, or dead bodies in a Japanese forest, or just by playing with one eyebrow, they will get unexpected fame. Even my content had gone mildly viral once. I felt generally happy out of it for some time surely. But that also leaves me with a question.

Something else will get viral tomorrow and the older viral thing would be less viral. Once the hoopla goes down, once people are done with you, once your stardom has seen the end of the curve, how do you deal with it?

I have a concern about the younger people (as well as the older people) regarding this subject. If you don’t know about the most recent viral thing, have you missed out badly? FOMO and all. How does that work out on campuses nowadays? How are you treated if you are not on all the hip-social-media-sites? Or maybe if you are not on anything, maybe that’s hip. Such a difficult time to be a student nowadays.

Concern about older generation is that they were slightly late to jump on the bandwagon but they are finally everywhere. So, when some new viral thing comes, or a new tech comes, how do they deal with this? Is it just cynicism and general contempt about the new generation or do they also feel that they have missed the bus already so at least now they should feel updated?

A few days back I saw a tweet from Amitabh Bachchan worrying about his Twitter follower count.

Or maybe, when one gets older, they become more childish.

I am now neither old nor young and I have not even hit the mid-life crisis yet. And my viral days are already over. What do I do now to stay relevant? Heh.

Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash

What’s Social Media for you?

What’s Social Media for you? A place to connect with friends and like-minded people? Right. That’s the original definition though which was somewhat true a few years ago.

What is it now really?

  1. A place where your friends and like-minded people give their opinions all day long.
  2. A place where your friends (read acquaintances) and (so-called) like-minded people share what they had for lunch.
  3. A place where all your friends have become highly political and ready to chop everyone down from their armchair via WiFi if there’s any disagreement.
  4. A place where you are given a notification about your as distant as Pluto relatives  liking the photos of their as close as Charon relatives whom you don’t care about.
  5. A place where you hate to go now… You get the drift. Right?

In my previous few posts I have shared that I have been successful in, to a good extent, subsiding myself from the main crowd. I have tried to curb my FOMO if I may by indulging in discussing irrelevant things with strangers. I have basically made myself distant from the happenings, trendings and the agree-to-disagree endings.

Today, I came across a very interesting episode of the Ask Gary Vee show where his guest was Seth Godin. The show format is mostly audience asking the guests questions and them replying to that.

Here’s the episode for your entertainment and enlightenment:

In this, Seth Godin said a beautiful thing when asked about how he can only blog in today’s day and age and why not he is on all the social media platform which could further enhance his brand. As in, who doesn’t want that?

I will try to summarise his answer to that below:

On the Internet (or even in traditional media format), there are 2 kinds of people: Consumers (for whom the modern day algorithms of social media sites are optimized on regular basis) and the Creators (who have to work hard in order to get noticed).

Are you a Consumer?
Are you a Consumer?

All websites want to keep the consumer addicted and stuck to their sites. They make logging out difficult by keep feeding stuff to Like and Retweet. There has been so much said already about this so I don’t even need to say anything more. Even Facebook recently admitted to the fact that people who just like others end up feeling depressed.

or are You a Creator?
or are You a Creator?

Creators, on the other hand, are people who are trying hard to create worthy stuff. They are the producers. They are constantly learning and updating themselves so that they can be better. If creators only consume, they won’t be able to create. This is as simple as that.

Seth went on to give the examples after examples. But he also mentioned that if you are consuming things for your entertainment and for self-improvement, then that’s understandable. However, there must be a limit of how much one should consume if one wants to be a creator.

Check that video out and ponder, whether you are a consumer or a creator?


टीवी कम देखिए

I was told to watch less TV so I decided to get a BV instead of a TV [wink]. Actually, the TV was owned by my roommate and he had to move to a different city altogether so I am now TV less since last 3 weeks. Moreover, I haven’t watched TV actively since the starting of 2016 itself as I was involved in some life altering activities one indulges in when one comes of age or there is nothing else left to be done. Sigh.

But believe me, life has been a lot better without TV. Life without TV is like being in a super heavy traffic jam but without the noise. It is like standing beneath a hand dryer and the dryer is pumping out cool breeze softly and someone is shooting this scene for a energy drink commercial. It is like an ice cream cone in which the chocolate part at the bottom of the cone never ends. It’s like speed of download increasing instead of decreasing even if you keep on staring at it/jinxing it by staring. But then you can run away from TV but you can’t escape news coming at you if you happen to be on the Internet.

The Intelligent Box

There has been a lot going on around our country and as usual TV and Social Media has got stuck on a couple of things worth outraging only. So let me put my point across as someone who was spared of these events due to lack of TV and had no reaction to it whatsoever but now everyone is peddling their views so why shouldn’t I?

Well before I start my rant, let me digress for a second: It always brings the best out of people when they vent out of their feelings on Social Media on issues which they feel something about. By best I mean worst. Since last few years, you can easily classify people (and also fail at it miserably) based on their inclinations politically and socially. You can succeed if a person is relentlessly posting about some cause they care about and you know that they truly believe in it (or are they just jobless venting out stuff because free time). And you will fail if you just assume a person’s political inclination based on a vague number of posts just because it helps you to be more biased towards the cause you care about and your favorite pastime is to judge people and assume yourself as morally upright. On TV you still try to present yourself decent as much as possible, but online you are the Hulk and your keyboard is Loki.

Anyways, a lot of things happened on (for) TV lately, the one involving a case of sedition on few gentlemen and ladies from JNU, Delhi. Some things were said. Some things weren’t. But the videos went viral. Viral to the extent that police had to intervene and arrest one of the student leaders. Then some people thought that they could teach that student a lesson and act as the sole saviors of the country. And then you know what and all happened.

Now my point of view on it.

For most of us, we who have average IQs, we tend to be an emotional bunch. TV for us is like a family member. We might live alone, but we still want to have a TV in front of us. Even if we want it in our room just for the sake of aesthetics of the house. We might keep our heads soaked into the 5″ screen of our mobile phones but we must have the sound of TV going into our ears. Even if one doesn’t own a personal TV of their own but in some way or the other, one would get attracted to it. We must have our dinner with Prime Time TV as one of the dishes otherwise the meal seems a bit incomplete. TV makes a house, a home.

When it comes to News on TV, that also happens to be a major prime time event. Most of the things happen either in the evening so that Prime Time is ready to pounce on it, or on a weekend so that everyone can watch scenes of disasters from their drawing rooms with the comfort of their sofas. Unless you are too saintly and watch saas-bahu still in 2016, people watch News on TV and base their primary opinions from it. This is also important that TV is one of the major opinion making body because one, newspapers are dying and second, people don’t have time to spoil their eyes on a paper which has static text and images when they can spoil their eyes on, you know what. And Internet is an extension of the TV. A tool from which we can re-affirm our social and political beliefs. Although we could totally get opposite views from the Internet too but who goes beyond page 1 of Google.

So what the news about latest events in JNU told me, is that TV is trying desperately hard to gather your attention. By keeping it colorful and then taking colors off it. And then painting it red, saffron and what not! It is trying very hard to make nobodies heroes and make heroes (who were also nobody sometime ago) as nobodies. It is, holding your collars, pulling you to watch it, get outraged, enrage your senses and take the blood pressure of yours to newer heights. It is up to us now to decide on how and what do we want to comprehend from it, although we can’t do a thing about it beyond a certain point. Because we need someone to spoonfeed us. We want some leaders who die for our cause. We keep seeking someone, some messiah, some demagogue to tell us that our lives are going very bad. We need someone to remind us that emergency is just lurking around the corner. And TV gives us all that fodder. But if you just come out of the room where TV is sitting, you see mostly everything is just fine. People say that politicians are fools. No sir, you are a fool. Politicians know how to use TV (or say the most prevalent media of the time) to make a fool out of you. They saw few words and you start clapping. They tell you that your life sucks, and you nod your head in sombre agreement. TV is not an idiot box, we are idiots sitting inside a box believing everything on it.

I am not asking you to be indifferent. I am just asking you to learn to move on. Just go outside and switch off your TV for sometime. Or watch Saas bahu serials.

P.S.: And one more thing. We live in a huge country where each and every day, something happens which tries to break the social accord. Do we need to fuel the fire which wants to break our society or do we want to work together to make it better? If someone says even a single bad thing about our family, at least half of the recipients will give it back verbally, some will resort to violence. Some will move on and actually all of them should move on but what’s ideal in this world. It is not that our country is so fragile that it would break into pieces just because of some slogans. But it is prone to suffer some bruises in other parts too surely if one side gets amputated, either from within or due to some external factors. Do we have to encourage those who want to cut off our arms from the outside or do we, join hands, and make internal organs work better and be more immune?

Please Like my Baby

Please like my baby for my baby is so cute,
Look at its* cho-chweet cheeks, and at its tiny snoot…
How cuddly it is, so plump and fluffy, don’t you think so?
So adorable no? The eyes, don’t you think they glow?
The sound it makes, gagagogo gulp, isn’t that music to your ear,
It might be difficult to decipher for you, should I translate to make it clear?

Hey like my baby alright, don’t like it more than necessary…
Although, I’ve applied kala tika protection but I’m wary to keep evils at bay,
No no, don’t ever dare to make that annoyed face, for my baby is a dude,
Doesn’t matter if it wets your lap, don’t complain, no, it’s rude…
How dare you showed discomfort on the running nose of my baby…
Even if it drools more than its weight, why are you going so crazy,

Are you jealous that it is my baby and yours are going down the drain,
You have to like mine on all social media even if it inflicts any pain…
Yes, you are a nobody, what you know you dumbo, still I need your approval,
I’m going to send my baby to this baby beauty contest, if I don’t someone else will…
Do you realize how important is it, to get these social media validations…
Baby will need them in school admission and other important certifications,

I’ve changed my DP to my baby’s pics to show my honesty and intimacy…
Why should I fear, when it grows old, it will take care of its own privacy,
So praise it now and then, please like my baby for my baby is so cute,
It’s an opportunity for you to prove your friendliness, O’ my friend so astute,
Do like the pic where the baby is asleep with father/mother, that’s the pic with the juice…
Yes, do the job you have been asked to do as baby is the best thing we could (re)produce.

(* Using its because we don’t differentiate between boy and girl child on this blog)

P.S.: I thought I am going to offend many people with this post but nobody is going to read this anyway so I am safe. I hope.