Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Herd and its Masters

I was trying to read into online behavior, which happens to be a part of the requirement of the job.

I largely realized then, of how little I actually understood others' behavior at all. And this, despite having consistently flaunted interest in behavioral sciences. Sad. Looks like I was too tightly confined in my own shoes all this while. While I enjoyed deriving from these theories, the explanations for my own questions and confusions, seems like I never looked beyond it to actually understand the aspirations, likes, needs and motivations of those who walk around. Or maybe I was too naive to think that if I understood my needs, aspirations and likes, I could actually generalize it to the whole of humanity! 

Yes, I think that was the problem all along - I thought the world actually ran the way I thought it did; that people functioned the way my mind did. I imagined for so long that everyone found twitter blah, read blogs to introspect, hated Facebook chat and never really got excited about dumb memes. But I was wrong. Big time wrong. Embarrassingly-off-the-mark wrong. 

And as I gear up to start understanding these things all over again in a new light, a voice in me warns me to be very very careful. Because with discovery of differences, comes the deep ingrained inclination to label. To judge. 

Some people actually play that silly game for hours on FB? Geez...Lame!

Folks actually follow and share every picture posted on McDonald's community page?? Get a life dude! 

People actually read these story-behind-Priyanka's-tatooes type stories and comment on it? *No words*

"When you truly care for someone, their mistakes never change your feelings because it's the mind that gets angry but the heart still cares" goes a photo/ post card. In my mind, that simply triggers a big *beep beep beep* for corniness. But apparently, thousands of people have shared it.

So big empathetic bang-head-on-the-wall lesson - People are different. Different. Different.*echoes*

There is this tendency to put myself on a higher pedestal and look down on the lower mortal activity happening on the internet - 'lower' simply because I don't adhere to it. Guilty as accused. And I can only hope I do not succumb to this in future.

But certain areas, I confess, I will never understand. It baffles me as to why people would become fans of brand pages, loyally answer every single brand promotion question and take part in contests whose creators surely had to have assumed that participants were downright stupid. It amazes me that it is possible to place your deep felt values and emotions on things like watches, cars, pizzas and malls. I know many do. Their online activities clearly give it off. 

I always naively thought that commercials have no effect at all. But recently, I realized what a fool I had been - for not having considered the point that marketers wouldn't have wasted millions of dollars without having this one fact assured. 

If everyone were like me, perhaps we would have still been an agricultural society. Or a communist one.

It sometimes makes me sad that the digital sphere has reduced commitment and pledging of loyalty to shallow terms. 'Click like to win a free coupon' or 'Tweet positive feedback with #brandname to become fan of the week'. From when did liking and becoming fans become a matter of commercialism? But people do it. Thousands and thousands of them. Should I call them stupid? I don't want to but whatever they are, they sure are lowering the standards of who a consumer really is. It is important we don't do this because only then would companies start to prod on more respectful ways of creating a platform for interaction.

I am not against business. I am not against marketing. But I hope it becomes a process of engagement rather than one of 'easy catch'  ; that it becomes one of bonding than wooing. A brand or product as it is - whether it is a packet of noodles or a bottle of deodorant - is no life changing gift on its own. But we have all had our moments of enjoyment/ entertainment/ utility because of them. After all, we are not living a neanderthal life. 

Maybe I am still a gullible young woman who still doesn't completely understand the politics of it all but I am hopeful that somewhere in this brand jungle, a little meaning and purpose can be created; and if I can be a part of it, I will try to grasp it by all means. Maybe it is all just another case of a desperate human need to imagine meaning where none exists at all but hey, a few cases among these have actually succeeded! :)

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The author of this post will soon be joining a digital media consultancy and executing social media campaigns for clients. She never thought she will be making a living out of updating statuses on Facebook but also likes to confess to the readers on a serious note that it is a lot more challenging than that and that she is looking forward to it! :)

18 comments:

ganeshputtu said...

Totally beyond my comprehension....which is a good thing i guess, because i am one of "those" people who spend time on the net- facebook/twitter et al liking and commenting...on friends and even random strangers posts if i like what i read/see....btw, thats how i ended up at your blog (serendipity or what?) via Susan Deborah....but i do see one thing..now that you realize that You are not always right (and infallible) - there is at last hope for you. if that sounds harsh, so be it- i take the privilege of a friend in saying so. the world is not of one shade, and people are not always wrong. its intellectual arrogance to assume our infallibility when we have not walked a mile in anyone else's shoes. i learnt his lesson a long time ago- and keep getting reminders of it all the time. for example, i have learnt so much from you even on our short acquaintance (and hope to learn more and more over a very Looong acquaintance - touch wood). anyhow the point i am trying to make here is - the recognition of ignorance is the path to wisdom.....glad to have you join us all mere mortals on this earth Sinduja...welcome...

karthick r said...

//When you truly care for someone.....

Appada, finally, finally. Its not just corny. Its way tooo uncanny.
If someone I know makes a mistake, I will not think twice to punch them hard.
But yeah, people are different. I've learnt it the hard way.
It's like having Sreesanth/Munaf Patel for company. 100% amusement guaranteed.
And reg the foot note - Whatte WoW.! Enjaai. Does this mean that the freq of posts will be reduced? Should the regulars of chaoticm be worried? ;-)

And btw, this is what I typed out in captcha to prove blogger that I'm human - "soucianc gicalmat" hee hee funny to read it.
~ cheers.!

Arumugam said...

Congrats on your new job Sinduja:)

Strange coincidence,but nowadays I am beginning to feel quite the opposite,that all humans behave in fundamentally similar ways,which far outweigh the differences:)

I too found such FB lines corny,until I realized that at some point in time I too believed the same thing.But real life teaches you that it's not so simple.So I actually,wistfully look at such updates,contemplating my loss of innocence and envying them.Similar to how we roll our eyes at the sweet nothings teenage lovers say to each other.

That is just but one example,but yes think of it in this way,the world would be such a boring place if it were filled with my clones,for me,or your clones,for you.

I totally agree with you on the need for meaning in work.I fear everything is for sale.The people at the apex of capitalism like Hedge fund managers make billions by movements of currencies and stocks while people who perform socially useful functions like a teacher or a nurse can just about make ends meet.

Do check out this awesome book on social media,I am currently reading.You might find it interesting with regard to your field.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Church-Facebook-Hyperconnected-Redefining/dp/1434765342/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Vicky Dada (Vikas) said...

Congratulations on your new vocation, Sindu!
Hope you continue to write on your blog.

Sinduja said...

@Ganesh: Erm.. I did not exactly say that liking and commenting on many posts is a bad thing.

"There is at last hope for you" - Ha ha, Ganesh..yen sir? I was not that bad ok? ;( ivvalo thirura alavuku naan ippo enna sollitaen? :)

But yes, Ganesh. I agree. This is a very important lesson and I hope to stick to it for a long time.. :)

Sinduja said...

@Karthick: Enna Sir, orey the ipl fever ah? Sreesanth/Munaf Patel? Lol... lets add Siddhu too there.

Regulars of chaoticm - idhulam over ah theriyala? Edho pona podhu, ponnu comment panranu appappa palla kadichitu comment panna vendiyadhu...no? ;D

Heeyyy, we are the psychaaalagy students ya!

Sinduja said...

@Arumugam: Arumugam, this is interesting! I think you might be right. Though the actions might all be different and vary, perhaps the fundamental inclinations are all the same... hmmm, yeah na?

And yes, what you do might be a better way to handle these thoughts."contemplating my loss of innocence and envying them" - actually a very beautiful way to look at it. :)

And yes, variety is good, definitely. I always believed that if someone were irritating us, the problem is us.

Salaries and incentives are totally unfair. True. A friend of mine does totally mind boggling work in design, spending a lot of hours and get one fifth of what another counterpart gets in IT on bench.

Thanks for the book. Will check it out. :)

Sinduja said...

@Vicky: Thank you so much Vicky! :) Yes, I intend to stick to the blog to the best extent I can!

Anonymous said...

... and here I was thinking that you were a person who accepted people with their differences. :)
And Ganesh, who I thought was pretty fixed in his thoughts, seems more open.

Great to find that you find the challenge of your job exciting.

ATB :)

-V

Sinduja said...

I am human V.

And why this comparison with Ganesh? :D

Thank you for the wishes...:)

Gopala krishnan said...

First of All, Congrats for the job :),
(sollave illa.... eppa ithellam ??)

Facebook is a strange place where we cant't judge what the hell is happening, i know an arrogant person who never ever waste time on smiling in rel life playing all s#@& ville games for hours, one of the few things i fear is his invitation in fb. I know him personally how he is, avanukke intha gathi na, matha yaarayum onnum solla mudiyathu, this how the fb changes a person. And as Ganesh said it has its own uses of bringing ppl into contact, i will chat and rather than just likes i prefer to chat over, that gives me a feel that i am still a human.

on the whole a nice post.

peerlessdeepak said...

Loved the way it ended..I mean you entering to search for a meaning in an activity which appears meaningless on the surface:)! Bravo. Congrats on your job! Wish you the best in your efforts.

harish ram said...

perhaps you are looking for meaning in the wrong place; perhaps.

When emotions comes into the picture seldom do we turn rational in our actions. Why should people stand 4 long hours in 'q' to get tickets for a star movie?

It can be star worship or crazy following for a brand, but it all comes to point that when man devotes himself to an ideal nothing else matters anymore. And this would still come under communalism :)

But then like the wonderful scene in Ramana where he dismisses the offer to be a leader using the support he gets, people who gets these followers should steer their devotees to a brighter part rather than just tapping on their gullible nature.

PS: can you shed more light on why do you need to go back to the agricultural communist society?

Red Handed said...

I read your comment on my blog and then I read your blogpost and one thing struck me. 'SHE MUST HAVE DONE A COURSE IN JOURNALISM' And your ABOUT ME proved me right!!!

Yes I too look down upon those whom u mentioned in ur post. But when a large number of people join tht particular group, then I start questioning myself. Am I different ir are they naive like I think.
Excellent way to delivering the post!

Abhishek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Abhishek said...

Digital Media Consultancy eh ? Well in that case , Good luck , Ms.Author! ^___^

Karthick said...

I have spent lotz of time watching commercials on youtube , especially for their outrageous creativity.(Although I skip the commercials which play before the commercials videos I wait to watch ;))
But then its a baffling fact that companies like coke/pepsi/pizza chains (here I refer to companies who are completely closed on one side, in the sense they dont invent any more, they have a century old product , they some how need to sell it to every generations),yet still after so many decades they still manage to make you gulp down their cough syrup .(Coke formula was originally a cough syrup , am nt kidding google it if you dont believe me :))

Rakesh Balakrishnan said...

a democratic and capitalistic society is bound to become the way it is now.