Here is my article on ‘Waste it or save it, it’s your identity, digitally yours‘ first published in the Daily Post India.
The times are ripe for a digital revolution. Well, wasn’t the Arab Spring too a fine example connecting the masses with social networking? Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Google maps, forums and proxy servers were all in action to connect the fighting Arabs with their brethren, at large. They had a purpose, and they all fared quite well.
So, post Hosni Mubarak’s dethroning and Muammar Gaddafi perishing, what is next? What happens to the blog that saw several hundred posts a day, the Twitter handle that fired 140 characters every minute and the Flicker page that crowdsourced pictures from across the Middle East. Well, as expected things are now quieter and some of these digital outposts have been silenced and others abandoned over the weeks. These unattended user profiles and blogs are considered as digital waste by some experts.
According to the recent estimates, WordPress.com, the famous blogging site, has reached the 60-million mark, and social networking behemoth Facebook is inching closer towards its 1billionth user. Isn’t that a revolution of the masses? Well, it is and it isn’t too.
The number of active members on Facebook can be pegged at 400-500 million, much less than its total strength. So, there is a difference between the total number of users who opt for a social network or blogging service and those who actually go for it. The digital waste is created and fed by us intentionally or otherwise.
Now, while most of us have created a Facebook or Twitter account, how often do we use it for what it’s intended? The abandoned pieces of our digital personality are plenty in number. Remember Orkut? Did you make a crossover to Facebook but still maintain the Orkut account that seldom gets your attention? And now all your college friends are tweeting about the professor’s receding hairline and you feel left out! Okay, so did someone create a blog to celebrate their love for Metallica and you too are feeling the pressure to stamp your personality digitally by taking your photography passion online?
Being socially active on an online network is part of growing up process, courtesy MySpace, Orkut to Facebook and now Google+. However, we are leaving a trail of our digital self in the form of networks, which in time either get ignored or abandoned by us for various reasons. The digital waste of our life tells a story about who we were in a time not so long ago.
This waste could also become something to cherish, when many years from now, a Google search would tell your kids that their dad was almost a rock star in college, posing with that embarrassing picture in the hostel dorm, which got you almost expelled from college!
Waste it or save it, it’s your identity, and it’s always going to be digitally yours.