Tag Archives: social media

What Blog Is

Sometimes a blog is just what a blog is. The recording of a moment, a sudden attempt to capture what is by nature ephemeral, to grasp at the truth as though it can be held back as it slips through the sieve. Sometimes, a blog is just talking to yourself, catching something that made you smile, pouring out something that would make you burst otherwise, as is, half formed, half lived, half tested. For the heart is what it is. Continue reading What Blog Is

Writing Memoir on Social Media

I’m doing something in the room and The Boy walks in stealthily from behind me and suddenly there is a shower of bubbles in the air and lots of childish laughter. I turn my face and I see a host of bubbles floating up and up and up towards the light, their shiny surfaces catching the light and turning them into iridescent rainbow hues. It’s hard to tell how each bubble will float away, where it will stick and when it will burst.  But together they transform the room.

Actually I’m not just sitting here doing something. I’m writing yet another blog post. It isn’t unusual at all, while I’m writing, for a childish face to peek in and insist on typing a word or two or close a window or want to check out a blinking light below the touchpad. But bubbles? They are new.

The bubbles floating around me make me think of a lot of writing I’ve been doing lately. Light, beautiful, polished, iridescent and ephemeral.

What really has been the end goal of these pieces? To live for a bit, to catch the light, to stick in someone’s mind for a moment and then to disappear? To float directionless, to dazzle and to die? Continue reading Writing Memoir on Social Media

Friends down memory lane

It is in the thirties that we want friends. In the forties we know they won’t save us any more than love did. ―F. Scott Fitzgerald

We sit around a huge bed covered in a thick, rough, cotton fabric next to huge windows overlooking wide expanses of this city of asbestos roofs, open dumpsters, pretty apartment buildings with AC’s hanging off the walls and rickshaws and BMW’s parked next to each other spanning a vista that looks almost pretty in the bright sunlight if you had the eyes to see it.

We’re still sitting in a circle, almost happy, almost young, almost twenty.

Some of us (who can) look over our shoulders in a familiar gesture to see if auntie (one of our mothers) is at the door to supervise us. But she has become too old now and retires to her room in the afternoons.

At first, we start talking like we always did whenever we met for the past ten to twenty years, since the steady decline of opportunities in the city and this age of globalization showered it’s bounties upon some of us and catapulted us to various parts of the globe.

Other schools, other cities, other jobs, other husbands, other children, other friends, other neighbours, other colleagues, other languages and other ways of life while some continued here in the city, swaying with the pull of distant lands or staying steadily rooted, yet none being able to ignore the loss and gain of bonds in our new and changed world. Continue reading Friends down memory lane

Home on the Interweb

At the end of play or at the end of work, when the sun is rising in the wee hours of the day or when the sun is going down, when you pull the curtains on prying eyes at last or when you display your exploits in their splendour on the wall to envious eyes, you want to return home.

Home is where work gets done, or no work gets done at all, where a thousand voices descend on you the moment you enter the door or where you sit still in solitude deep in thought. It is where you are thankful for today or you wait for a hopeful tomorrow or you sit and wonder if this is all there is where one day fades into the next quite silently with indistinguishable footsteps where not even a mouse clicks in the dark.

When you stare into the distance of a blue river or a blank screen from your window or when you spot a poster on the wall (of paper or pixel) next door, you float up and down memory lane or look into the crystal ball of time from your couch at home.

Home has the old and the familiar box from where you shake out a dusty album or it houses the kaleidoscope of friends and relatives, living or dead, floating down a timeline at the click of a mouse, as though they were all there in your living room sipping tea and munching sugary biscuits this afternoon. [Such as when a pop-up floats about a sidebar and says “Say Happy Birthday to S today” when you know that that smiling S left both the world of humans and Netpeople three years ago and left her profile active to haunt us forever every year on this very day.]

Thoughts of homelessness spring to mind as you get away from home for home in another part of the world on a huge airplane. You look down from the window at the familiar skyscrapers and trees and river fading into the billowing clouds.

When you’ve moved many times, between home here and home there, so many homes are scattered in different places that there is no getting away from home although there is no living at home without all those other homes knocking at your door always to come home.

Continue reading Home on the Interweb

Is blogging bad for writing?

Do you want to become a good writer? Keep writing! Practice makes perfect.

Or does it?

Keep writing is usually the advice new writers are given to help them launch a journey onto the uncharted waters of how to write well, a practice that doesn’t usually have any proven rules of success although there’s plenty of advice going around.

I realized that as in every good thing in life, blogging too comes with its own share of pitfalls. Where there is opportunity for improvement in writing, there is also a need for tremendous caution.
Continue reading Is blogging bad for writing?

Like vs. Silence on Social Media

I have never seen the Taj Mahal awash with moonlight on a Full Moon day. Or the Great Pyramid in the desert rising in grandeur in the yellow sands in front of me. I have never heard the lion’s roar in the wild. Nor can I remember what it must have been like to have seen the ocean for the first time.

But I can imagine what some of it must feel like.

It must be sublime. It must be spellbounding. It must be a moment so full of wonder that it must be the most difficult to express anything at all at the moment.

Now imagine that the Taj is virtual with a discreet like button next to it. Also imagine that you are a virtual tourist on your way to another site of attraction.

Would you pause a while spellbound in wonder at the beauty of it all or would you casually hit the like before moving on to the next site?
Continue reading Like vs. Silence on Social Media

Freshly Pressed!

Freshly Pressed
Freshly Pressed

And I am now featured on WordPress’s Freshly Pressed! Hope this post generates some more good discussion. Do Bloggers Have Choices?

The following posts were featured in the past. Can you figure out some commonality between them?

My Blog Audience

Sounds of the Blogosphere

Characters from the Inside of Your Head

Social Media and Sharing Reality

I was walking around West Village yesterday when I turned a corner. It was not as cold as when the polar vortex had assailed us last week. Yet it wasn’t as sunny as the day before here in Manhattan. In fact, it was pretty foggy even for a winter’s day.

The fog on a different day seen from across the Hudson.
The fog on a different day seen from across the Hudson.

The fog was making striking patterns in the sky as it swirled around the tall buildings making them look like slim black mountains or gigantic arthropods with their front feet buried in the fog and their antennae pointed towards me as they looked down from their lofty heights.

If you knew the landscape in these parts, you’d know that those antennae were really enormous cranes or pullies perched atop the terraces. The World Trade Center, the most gigantic arthropod of all, stood like the leader of the pack looking down from the foggy heavens like a creature from the myths and legends of yore.

It was a day of epic poetry about cities and civilizations and battles and  mountains and fog and about the rise and fall of civilizations past and present.

Then I turned that corner suddenly and encountered a strikingly different sight. Continue reading Social Media and Sharing Reality

New Year’s Resolutions for the Blog

Develop focus

It’s been quite a while for the blog now. From day one, I thought it might be necessary to have a plan for the blog. A year-and-a-half into it, I’m still planning to have a plan. What themes do I focus on? What character do I develop for the blog?

If nothing else, this plan to have a plan has made me think a lot about myself and my writing. So it’s not been all strife and missed targets but perhaps a little trimming of subject matter and presentation might help. Continue reading New Year’s Resolutions for the Blog

Time

As I wake up this morning with the harsh beeps of the phone alarm, I notice that time has changed. Even though the clockface says 6 am, it’s not. 6 am morning last week is 6 am night today here in New York.

The river is inky black outside, the lights are still twinkling on the bank, the boats that are criss-crossing the river are sparkling on the dark water like jewels.

The morning ferry is one of the boats that is crossing the river, distinct by its two rows of jewel-like lights that I’ve come to know like a diamond-studded brooch on black silk.

The ferry doesn’t start until morning. So is it morning already?
Continue reading Time

Why we share and what can go viral

What makes some quality pieces of writing more shareable than others? What makes some writing go viral while others stay quietly dormant where they started?

Good content is a must for a strong chance at being shared (I can see some rolling their eyes here and I agree. “Good” is a term subject to interpretation. Good here would be a measure of how far the writing has met its own goals which might not not necessarily be aligned with a universal standard of wholesome writing.)

There are too many “how to write viral content” articles out there for me to rehash here again. What intrigues me today is not so much the writing itself but the people involved with the writing in some form or the other–the readers who read, discuss and share–with or without having read the article. 

The desire to share

Jadavpur university bookstore
Jadavpur university bookstore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Where does this desire to share come from? Do we gain anything from sharing an article written by somebody else, most often a total stranger? Could we understand the shareability factor of writing by not just looking at the writing itself but at the people who share? Is this new phenomenon really as new as it sounds?
Continue reading Why we share and what can go viral

Topics that make you popular

I’ve been meaning to find a topic to write about that will make people sit up immediately and say, “Here! I can’t ignore this. I can’t scroll down. I have to read this. You can’t stop me from reading this!”

But alas, as I’m rummaging through topics, turning them in my head, checking them for possibilities, I can’t think of a single one that can prove to be the common denominator between me and other people. Continue reading Topics that make you popular

Are relationships becoming shallower online?

If you’re reading my post you’re a denizen of the online world just like me. C’mon, there’s no denying it. [insert smiley face here]

We’re all here. There are those of us who are writing things online. Others are reading us. Many of us spend hours on social media connecting and reconnecting with friends. Yet others spend time here learning, informing themselves, mis-informing themselves, finding partners, finding their way, playing games, snooping on people and doing pretty much most of the functions we could perform in the good ol’ real world.
Continue reading Are relationships becoming shallower online?

Writing and online experience

Imagine a moment in a story in which the protagonist finds his ex-girlfriend on Facebook. Imagine a story in which a woman falls in love with a guy through chats and comments and pictures and fantasizes about the rest of her lover in her mind. Imagine a story involving an online stalker who is everywhere and nowhere. Imagine a story of artistic melancholy where life feels fragmented and fake like a Facebook wall.

Would these stories be comprehensible to a reader without any online experience? As Lloyd Alexander has said, “Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.” While our fantasies stretch beyond our imaginations, their raw materials have to have their foundation in experience. The sensibilities that the above stories depend on can only exist because our online worlds exist and we have some experience of it. These experiences can hardly be separated from the form and content of these stories.
Continue reading Writing and online experience

Who *are* you behind your online words?

A friend I knew had made her first foray into the online dating scene a few years ago. A confident urban young woman with a lot of poise, she was receiving a lot of requests for connections. One guy in a particular profile managed to email her directly. She showed it to me with a giggle. It read something like this:

Every morning I wake up smiling with the sun shining on my face and a smile and a song on my lips. I drive dancing to the tune of the radio on my way to work. I bring joy and happiness to those around me all day at work and when the sun goes down I get in touch with my spiritual side as my (light) head hits the pillow at the end of a glorious day.

Okay. Perhaps he didn’t mention his light head but the email was something very much like the one above.

English: A photo of a sun hot air balloon.

I seem to remember that with all that sunshine in his life, he was wearing a pair of very dark glasses in the profile picture heroically holding a fish that he had caught from some water body behind him.

What can a person’s written language tell us about them as people if we don’t know them at all? Are we right to make an assessment about a person solely based on the way they come across through their writing? For example, would it be right to assume that the guy above is either silly or over-the-top or working too hard to impress? Were we right to giggle? Continue reading Who *are* you behind your online words?

Why I don’t read literature

njoy! 4get wastin tym @ lit class LOL!

I was looking to widen my horizons through reading literature recently and look what I found outside the book!

An animated world map
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A stretched world that’s already shrunk so small that I don’t know where to look to expand my mind anymore.

I saw people in Washington Square Park yesterday eating South Indian dosas wrapped like a Mexican burrito from a street vendor  and I read in the news that they got 3G on top of mount Everest at last.
Continue reading Why I don’t read literature

Digital Writing and Diversity of Audience

internet users around the world
internet users around the world (Photo credit: Septem Trionis)

In my early days of blogging, I was often overwhelmed by a sense of wonder at how far my writing traveled. When I saw the names of all those countries listed on the stats page about where people were reading my blog from and sending me heartwarming comments, I was amazed. I expressed my new-found wonder in a post called My Blog Audience where many readers shared similar feelings about their writing.

 As I progressed with my blog through the months, I got more and more used to the fact that while it was my day, my reader could be reading at night. While it was summer where I was, my reader could be shaking off snow from his boots somewhere. While the country I was in might be at peace or engaged in a distant war, my reader might be not be in such fortunate circumstances.

Getting used to the novelty of an experience is inevitable but it can be very dangerous for one’s writing. Leaving aside other considerations where a sense of wonder aids the writing process in today’s digital age, failure to remember the diversity of your readers and their backgrounds can take away important nuances from your writing and prevent it from reaching its potential for readers.

But here is a paradox. As a writer you must be comfortable showing who you are or where you’re coming from or what your own concerns are because there is nothing so boring as a colourless, generic piece of writing. The writer’s identity remains important in digital spaces while the potential reader’s identity needs to be given more of a free range than earlier in our digital age.
Continue reading Digital Writing and Diversity of Audience