Goodbye Orkut

Orkut is being shut-down today. It was the most prominent social networking sites before the advent of Facebook. My facebook timeline is flooded with sentimental messages about Orkut being shut down. Oddly, I didn’t feel anything about it. I thought that I have moved on to FB a long back.

When I reflected back, I did have some interesting memories about using Orkut.

I first heard about Orkut in an IT symposium that I attended in IIT Madras. Answer to one of the quiz questions was Orkut. Thousands of students sitting in the hall yelled the answer in chorus. I felt ashamed that I didn’t even know such a site existed and decided to explore it later. That’s how I signed up for Orkut. If I remember correctly, I begged some third degree friend of mine to send invitation.

I spent most of my time in Orkut those days. Scrapping and scrapping back. Beating the scrap count of your friends was the only ambition within the friend’s circle those says. (Nope not the circle as in Google+ J ). We waited eagerly to reach milestone marks like 1000 scraps, 2000 scraps. Then friends will start congratulating you thus increasing the count even more.

If I remember anything other than scrapping, it was profile visitors. One would eagerly check the profile visitors section to see who have checked his/her profile out. They then check the profile back. After few rounds of profile visits, you get a friend request. One would secretly wish a person of opposite gender visit your profile. I terribly missed this one when I migrated to FB first time. But this one is back in Linkedin. Although for professional reasons.

Another aspect that comes into my mind – fake profile pictures. I am not sure if it was only Indian users. But majority of the profile had fake profile pictures. Mostly that of the film personalities they liked. Don’t even mention the fake profiles.

Heights of fun was when people found out few profiles of elderly people (probably fake profiles) seeking alliances for their son/daughter. The kind of obscene scraps they used to get from the younger lot was unbelievable. They were so out of place.

One thing that I would miss terribly would be Orkut Community “Gethu Pasanga”, meaning “Proud Boys”. The main theme of this community was to take a guy’s profile at random and analyse all his scraps and expose any “jollu” scraps (pickup lines) that they post in girls’ profiles. Once that is exposed, a load of community members will shower funny comments/obscenities about the hero’s behaviour. If somebody requests to be part of this community, first they will go through his profile and conduct the same exercise. Then existing members will vote whether to induct him to the community or not. The more scraps a person makes in girls’ profiles, the less proud he is. Only proud boys were allowed to join the community.

The most important feature was Testimonial. If you get a testimonial, that’s it. You will be on cloud nine and world will be under your feet. One will particularly learn the art of negotiation and persuasion while asking others for testimonials. There should be a subtle balance between getting the testimonial and giving one.  The number of new friend requests used to be directly proportional to the number of testimonials. More of a prequel to Linkedin ‘Recommendations’ but more personal than professional.

I think I started losing interest beyond 10k scraps. More so, when Google acquired it and tried to make changes to the classic look. Then FB became the talk of the town and I migrated to FB. All said, I have made quite few friends from Orkut and I am still friends with them. I would thank Orkut for that! Also, it was the first tool through which many people learnt socialising to some extent, although digitally.

Good bye Orkut! You will be missed.