Mafia Wars


I woke up to my cellphone’s call for attention – the occasional ping of a social media website that sends a shiver of excitement down anyone’s spine each time it’s heard, only to often end up being an invite from a food group that they had forgotten to unlike.

With partly open eyes and a mind still clouded with the last night’s episode of Game of Thrones, I clamored to find the phone from under my pillow – my hands reaching out as if a drowning man calling for help – frantic and all over the place.

“Fauzia Arif,” the notification read, “has completed 56 levels of Candy Crush. Post on her wall to congratulate her.”

“How difficult is it to have a life these days?” I questioned angrily before, logging in to Sims Freeplay to check if my Sim was well-hydrated after the hours of virtual gardening I had put it through.

Now that I was finally up and getting my daily installment off the newsfeed, I scrolled down to spot familiar faces doing things that I only wished I could.

Sofia “Princess” Mir, the first update read: Just got updated to an iPhone 5, thanks to my hubby to be <3.

This was my friend from school who I had lost touch over the years and what remained of her memory were just the ugly bits that still stung like an evil bee. The status, as if spiraling me back to that time had me wanting to reply, but I couldn’t just comment on her status. That would just prove that she had my attention, which she didn’t of course.

I decided to update a status of my own.

“How cute. People are just beginning to get an iPhone 5. Steve Jobs is dead, folks!” I wrote.

And just as I was thinking my passive aggressive rant was done with, a new notification checked my smile that hadn’t fully appeared on my sleepy face.

“Don’t compare yourself to me. I’m someone they couldn’t even dare to be.”

“Whoa! Who is comparing who? Wait, where is that picture of Ali with that goofy smile of his where everyone thinks he resembles a deer?” I thought immediately scanning my desktop for saved pictures from yesteryears.

I had posted of photo of Ali and I at our best. The caption read, hubby already. It was the only picture of him where he hadn’t lost those few extra strands of hair covering his forehead and when his smile was just a genuine show of good countenance and not a silent question of “What’s for dinner?”.

The photo even though misleading was gold. Contented, I thought this would shut her bitch fit up but here’s the thing about social media: You can never be too sure – about anything.

And sure enough, a new status update from Sophia had followed: “I pity my friend who ended up with someone who has such an ugly face.”

My head was now reeling. I felt betrayed, backstabbed, insulted – all at once. This person, who had more asterisks in her name than my computer password was actually having fun at the expense of me? Me? Who had always scored the highest, got the better job, gotten the guy and had real friends for a change.  Who does she think she was?

My mental blabbering was interrupted by another ping from my cell phone.

“What? Is she not even going to wait for her turn now?”

It was a notification from my high school’s principal who thought tagging both of us in a status would be akin to calling us in to the principal’s room. She had proceeded to give us an online scolding – caps lock and all and said something about how our failed attempts at trolling still gave her nightmares.

If our online spat with each other wasn’t embarrassing enough – well, it wasn’t quite embarrassing, I am known to be more challenging on Facebook, that tagged status took the cake.

I quietly switched my phone off, pretended the online me was going on a hiatus and proceeded to tend to my real life responsibilities – the first of which included me getting out of the bed.

(This was done as part of a creative writing course at SZABIST)

 

 

Into The Vile


It’s so bad, I can smell it!

From extra-long curly toe nails to phantom arms that originate from nowhere, everything that could possibly be disturbing manages to find a way in your newsfeed. You scroll down your Facebook page with a cup of coffee in hand, probably munching your breakfast snack and all of a sudden, a sight as hideous as Voldemort’s poo greets your gaze. What do you do? Scroll down as fast as you could? But it seriously cannot be fast enough. After all, you’re not done scanning the entire feed for weather, traffic and strike updates. For what good is using a social networking website in Karachi if it doesn’t give you the necessary information to start your day with? Err..

An influx of highly disturbing, vile, sometimes utterly gross and often, offensive images seem to have found a way to attract people enough to share them on their profiles for everyone in their list to see. If it’s not your Facebook people, then it’s some “insert-emotional-quote-here” page you had somehow liked for a friend that doesn’t think filtering images for quality is a good enough idea. From comic pages drawing almost real-looking poop to images of people with missing limbs (that seem to be funny to them, for some reason), there really is no knowing what type of content could come up next that you’d have to wash your eyeballs thoroughly for.

If it’s not the outright grotesque, then there are photos “commanding” you to like them or you’re likely to burn in hell. Seriously, isn’t waking up a Monday morning to get eyed angrily by your boss, only to be “surprised” by your favourite relatives while you’re on your way to head out hell enough? Apparently not.

Maybe imagining a world where people would rethink the kind of things they post online is actually day-dreaming, but do we really want to go down the road where everything we lay eyes on is a vomit-in-your-mouth kind of content? Clearly, the day isn’t far when you’d see surgeons uploading pictures of their patients when their stomachs are half cut up and consider it their contribution to the world of daily humour. Who am I kidding. I already have.

Overheard at Social Media Mela


 

“Our national obsession is getting settled” – Sanjay Rajoura, Indian stand up comedian

“We like to think everyone who matters is on Twitter” – Mighty Obvious

“People use Twitter to get to home, not to find out how much crime is happening.” – Norbert Almedia. Pakistani instructor

“What was the question? I’m completely lost” – Mohammad Hanif, Pakistani author

“Yehi hota hai Twitter pe.” Karuna John, Indian Associate Editor

“If people don’t take you seriously, maybe there’s no room for you in this side of space.” – Mighty Obvious

“Most writers make the mistake of writing about themselves in their first book. Not everyone is interested” – Annie Zaidi, Journalist

“There are some really scary opinions on Twitter. Two days ago I woke up and Jinnah was trending.” Mohammad Hanif, Pakistani author

“If you want to write about yourself, make a blog and wait for somebody to read it” Jugal Mody, Indian author

“Foreigner Tourist: Is that a cow?

Sanjay Rajoura: Meray ko to gayay hi dikh rahi hai, tujhe kya dikh rahi hai?”

“Citizen Journalists? Next thing you know we will be having citizen brain specialists! How far is this going to go?” Mohammad Hanif.

Faizan Lakhani, Reporter on releasing news before his TV channel “My employers asked me – salaray hum detay hain ya Twitter?”

“I came to Twitter for a one night stand, then I fell in love with it. Now, Twitter and I are getting married” Karuna John

Mohsin Siddiqui “If you have columnists why do you have blogs?” Bilal Lakhani, Express Tribune “We dont’ pay our bloggers.”

“Is mulk main… Apni mulk ki baat kar raha hun. Kuch ho na ho, settle sab hojatay hain. Har ghar main ek daadi hoti hain jo potay ki shakal dekhay bina marti nahi hai” Sanjay Rajoura

 

Losing out to social media?


Bloggers are random losers who don’t get published.

That’s exactly what my Journalism teacher told the entire class one day. Amidst no retorts and no “you better have a good reason for saying this”, her statement stood like a wall of fact. But was it really?

Recently, a lot of questions and speculations have come up about how print media is dying and while, I’m one of those who firmly believe it not to be so, in my opinion I think it has led to many print media professionals feeling a bit threatened about our increasing reliance on the world wide web  for information and the number of opportunities it has opened up for “non-journalists” to act/feel like they are in actuality, journalists.

It’s almost like how you’d react to a new co-worker who is just younger and better.

However, is there any cause for jealousy?

I think not. For one, I don’t think the social media “intends” to replace the print industry. Even though, more and more people are now relying on Twitter and their Facebook newsfeeds for such thing as weather updates, traffic blockages and new laws and regulations, a considerable number of people still continue to browse through newspapers to acquaint themselves with a particular style of reporting or let’s just say for a “more authentic” feel anyway.

One of the most oft quoted accusation against blogging has been about how it’s unedited and relies heavily upon the judgement or the intelligence of the person writing. While that’s mostly true, the fact that internet is accessible to everyone – blogger or not, sort of arms the readers with the ability to cross-check and make sure for themselves about whether what they are reading is just baseless or holds some weight.

Also, the fact that a number of people can comment right underneath the blog  increases the chances of the reader getting a more unbiased perspective than we think he is getting since he is privy to multiple opinions on the subject – something he normally can’t achieve during a news report on TV or on print.

Besides, with blogging you do have a certain amount of freedom. There are no deadlines, only the need to be relevant at the time of writing. There are no word count limitations or even editorial pressure to present or not present a certain perspective, depending upon the institutional pressures a publication is exposed to.

While that is frowned upon by hardcore journalists, a number of newspapers like The News, Dawn.com and The Express Tribune have taken the decision to publish blogs on their websites. They certainly aren’t put up unedited and unchecked. They go through a certain procedure, checked for authenticity and facts before they are put up.

While some of the factions all over the world continue to look down upon or don’t seriously take the implications of social media on readership habits, it’s true that with time, they are changing. Even though I’m an avid reader and a fan of the classic, I wouldn’t raise a hue and cry about reading  a newspaper on an e-tablet.