Friday, April 24, 2009

Social network status messages: An insight to the individual

Last night while going through the friend's list on my gtalk desktop client, I couldn't help but notice an 'interesting' phenomenon. Amongst those who were online (active or idle), about 90% of them had something or the other in their status messages. The last 10% had either 'Available' or 'Busy' on their status messages which are the default ones provided by Gtalk to denote the respective states. Now amongst those 90%, the status messages could be divided into various categories:
1) Status messages which wanted to convey some event. These status messages were in general like 'Been promoted', 'Got through to XYZ', 'Back from ABC trip' etc. Many a times they were accompanied by links which could be photo albums or blogs on that event or links that described that event.
2) Status messages which tended to be philosophical in nature. These contain quotations or mere one-liners or some poetry.

The 1st category falls into the group of people who are well off or happy. That is because people don't publicize negative or sad events on gtalk. Its the classic example of sharing happiness with all but sadness with select people.

What I am interested in is the 2nd category. If you ever delve into this category, you will find a lot of emotions plugged in. And they are heavily linked to what that particular person is going through or feeling at that particular moment. Like one message which says 'The greatest pleasure in life is in doing what people say you cannot do'. Guess what happened to this guy? He had been in love with a girl whose parents had been against their marriage. And most people who knew him thought he didn't have the guts to stand up for her. He not only managed to do so, but also married the gal. He proved everyone wrong.

Another one was from a lady who got through to IIM-A and proved herself to her boyfriend and current IIM-C student - 'Men are like bank accounts. Without a lot of money they don't generate a lot of interest'. Attitude! You can forgive her for doing that now.

People who are yearning for success wrote stuff like 'The road to success is always under construction', 'Efficiency is doing things right, effectiveness is doing the right things', 'The desire to succeed means nothing without the will to prepare', 'Tough times don't last, tough people do', 'Some people believe in destiny and some people make their own. Which category are you?' and 'There are no Failures. Just experiences and your reactions to them'. Marvellous. I fell in love with them. How true and how self-reflecting each of them were!

Some guys who just fell in love wrote stuff like 'Sometimes love is for a moment, sometimes love is for the lifetime'. And at times some more philosophical ones like 'Freedom is not worth if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes', 'Happiness is not a station you arrive at but a manner of travelling', 'You see things and you say - Why? I dream things and I say - Why not?'. Amazing. What is fascinating is that these messages are not necessarily their own creations but more or less show what those people are thinking at that point.
I came up with one myself - 'Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn.' Guess what it tells about me?

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Abhishek Saha
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
A NRB (Non Resident Bengali) or rather a 'Probashi Bangali'; born in Kolkata, brought up in Jamshedpur and now trying to make his mark at IIM Lucknow.
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