Linkedin wants to be Facebook, Google wants to be FB-like & Facebook wants to emulate Whatsapp!

And why this sucks.

Once upon a time there was Yahoo. We were all dependent on the ting** sound of the yahoo messenger client to interact with our friends from anywhere, and some anonymous friends too. And Yahoo quickly lost ground when one day my big brother told me about “Gmail”.

“What is it”, I asked, and he said, an invite only email service with unlimited email capacity. (Today the email storage capacity is 15Gb, which is what unlimited probably stood for in those days). I quickly asked for an invite and my brother sent it right away.

Since then, it has been my primary source of signing up, subscribing, emailing and everything in between. My Gmail id. Chances are, a lot of you had the exact same experience. We no longer needed to login to Yahoo Client cos’ you could now chat “inside” gmail. Which was epic. So we’d chat away. Show our emotions on gmail status messages. Wish Happy Birthdays to friends and family, publicly on gmail statuses. And sometimes will write philosophical thoughts to engage the audience in thinking that we were so pensive.

Those were simple times.

Later, there was linkedin. Something you had to sign up for if you were in a B-school. At least that’s what I was told. So I signed up. And all the connections which fell in the weird category of, know them but not well enough, and we talk yeah but mostly for professional reasons or while working on a project together only, you now had a place to ADD them.

This was Linkedin. For all your semi-contacts, acquintances, colleagues and classmates from professional institutions. There was no confusion at all.

Somewhere around this time, Facebook was taking over half of the world, starting from the Ivy League educational systems of the west by indicating a new relationship status which nobody had a word for, “It’s complicated”. And Bang, it hit India like a storm. Everyone was on Facebook within days.

Or at least it felt like it. Conversation on the commutes used to be about who sent whom a Friend Request, and serious friends exchanging their Facebook ids to add immediately and then take their relationship/friendship to the next level. Facebook was all the rage. People wanted to “Like” everything they saw.

It was like, the baby and the world. The baby wants to eat everything first and then spit it out if its not eatable. So we were all babies in Facebook land. We didn't know what we were doing, or where our activity lands up. or what are privacy defaults on our accounts. And we were hooked. So much to discover. Yeah, exactly like the baby!

So well, Facebook soared. Made news after news, funding after funding and swamp of “sponsored” posts landed on our timelines tirelessly fighting for our me time, or whatever that meant to our generation. Sure, it ruffled everyone. EveryOne. But still Facebook survived and their ad revenues kept growing over time.

One study suggested,
people are annoyed with the ads sure but they are still clicking them! :O

Anyway, so everyone else figures oh we have to be Facebook too!!! And then linkedin totally became facebook. Google launched its googleplus on the absolutely ripped off feature set like Facebook AND with different names. So nowyou basically had to do the same things twice and also remember the new name for it! I mean how much content do you want us to make and consume. And on how many platforms!

Googleplus didn't at all play Google’s strengths. All they did was play Facebook’s strengths and they were huge weaknesses for G+. Well they hung around, because it’s google you know, and they can afford to keep running ghost towns through their server farms. Obviously a start up would have shut down in the first year. And linkedin was sneaking up on us in the meanwhile.

Guess who became our favorite social network to hangout on in 2008–2009? The professional network: Linkedin, ofcourse. People were out of jobs and they didn’t have any more funny and interesting things to post. They needed a living back, they needed jobs. I needed a job, my friends needed a job and everyone was in a panic mode. And maybe that’s when they thought, we’re like Facebook, we’re addictive. So let’s give our users the feature set they have on Facebook and maybe they will never leave our platform! Dude!

And then what happened?

Linkedin reminders for whose birthday it is today. And they also expect you to wish them on linkedin. Seriously?? Are you nuts!!

There is Work Anniversary. Ok I didn't know we now had to celebrate being dated at an altogether new level!

Those constant updates about your network were always there anyway. Now every time somebody changes their profile picture on linkedin, which is once in a decade! you can “Like” their picture. and their status updates and am I forgetting something??

Now linkedin is a blogging platform as well ☺ How amazing. As if medium wasn’t doing a fabulous job anyway! So you’re now supposed to write on linkedin and flaunt your professional knowledge there instead of a personal blog on professional matters. You see it’s all about choking your network to death with so much content they die of overdose! I have felt compelled at times, to write there, but it is plain exhausting.

And what did they do on the “professional side” of things? On job hunting and recruiting side of things? Or for that matter the way your profile looks? Minimal. So minimal, we don’t even know what they did in those areas. Linkedin profiles look exactly the way they looked 7 years ago. You can add more stuff now, you can even tag them in separate sections but that’s it. The editing options are far from being 2015 standard or let’s say “medium” standard.

In the meanwhile, Facebook itself is still threatened by a company they already acquired and is forcing me to install a messenger on my phone, just to go through the messages in my facebook profile on mobile.

And Google is busy building EVERYTHING that nobody needs and FORCE INSTALLING it on our android phones, whether you want it or not. No wonder people are moving to ios now.

So now, every platform looks the same, every phone looks the same. Every app asks for the same permissions on your phone! The simple human act of communicating with another human being is more complicated than ever. You have plethora of messangers on phone/in browser and their public/private/semi public-private content that can be shared. The choice is so much it is paralysing.

It is the user’s headache to find out privacy defaults and if you are not aware of these, linkedin could well be posting your birth-date details everywhere to your network without realizing that it’s a security question to so many multi-factor authentication processes.

The thing is, there is no more place for any kinds of introverts. Whether they are that way all the time, or they just like a silent me-time or spend their birthday if at all, with a hand-picked set of friends and love meeting the ones they care for instead of going through their “updates”.

Every communication is out there, in the public. Every occasion is supposed to be a “notification” in somebody else’s timeline. And the problem is not that alone. The problem is, now that is the case everywhere. Not just Facebook. Not just twitter. Not just instagram. Everywhere I go, everything is for everyone. And how can everything be for everyone?

Haven’t you heard, a friend to everyone is nobody’s friend.

And now you’ll say, there are options to set privacy levels, share it only with few friends, or a group or public. Exactly. It’s complicated!

Disclaimer: Since I am taking on brands who are multi billion dollar companies, and I still want to continue using the Internet and these services in future, in case and specially if they improve; a disclaimer is in order.

“I am writing this solely as a user of these products/platforms and problems I face because I want to continue using them.”

When we were young, we used to think we could change the world. We grew up to realise we could only crib. Maybe if enough number of people crib about the same thing, something will change.

hit me up @parultongaria

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