The Asocial Networking – an Author’s Perspective

Wed, Feb 1, 2012

Alumni Speak

Some three months back when I used to search on Google with the keyword – ‘The Asocial Networking’, I used to get suggestions like, ‘did you mean, the social networking’ from Google. Now in the same Google I get quite a few search results for my very first book which has just been released and is available in leading book retail shops and on many e-commerce websites. The name of the book is ‘The Asocial Networking; Musings on the real and online world’. This I consider the greatest testimony to my work. I won’t call myself an author as yet, but a budding writer, whose first book has been published by Leadstart publishing – a leading name in the India’s reputed literary scene which has the largest distribution network of small and big bookstores.

Few words about the book

This most unusual book looks at the newfound obsession driving people of all classes, countries and age groups – ‘the asocial networking’ – a must do mode of entry into a new social order. If not adopted and mastered quickly, will it cause us to miss out on one of the greatest forms of modern human experience? It is also interesting and ironical to see ourselves socializing with the help of gadgets when we could actually step forward and socialize with the person standing next to us. For the benefit of those who exhibit their social lives online, this book offers little tricks of the trade to master the art of networking and garner tangible gains in the real world. I have discussed about our vulnerabilities and weaknesses, which are often reflected in the way we socialize on the web. Some people have, however, mastered the art of masking their inhibitions – has this made them desirable and irresistible in both the electronic and real worlds? The ephemeral nature of our fantasy of socializing online, also poses the danger of obsolescence to the current rulers of social networking, while presenting an open window of opportunity to any innovative and enterprising entrepreneur who can better our societal experiences. I have also attempted to look into the future of mankind and its changing priorities, through the future of social networking.

Book Reviews

The book has managed to generate quite a good interest among people who are regular to internet and social networking in general. The book is doing good business and is awaiting institutional reviews from business magazines, newspapers and book review websites/blogs.

In the words of Mr. Akshay Pandey, a friend, literary critic and senior consultant at a Sapient Consulting, “This book provides a fascinating glimpse into the big, bad world of social networking, the biggest craze of our time. This book is collection of articles on various facets of Social networking, both good and bad. Each of the articles is though provoking, written with a tinge of humor, sarcasm and witticism which keeps the reader interested throughout. Each article discusses a new facet of Social networking and has enough material to be discussed and debated among friends. This book need not be read from beginning to end, the reader can choose any article which interests him and straightaway start from there. The author’s ability to cover he complex world of social networking in a style layman can understand and appreciate it is praiseworthy. At no point of time does the book become geeky or preachy. It’s a must read for those interested in Social Networking and wish to ensure that they do not miss the bus. The writing style of author is reminiscent of the greats like R.K.Narayan, Ruskin Bond (Though too early to draw comparisons with the greats). The author displays his ability to convert the small and ordinary things of everyday life into memorable literary anecdotes. The book reminds one of tea/coffee which should be shipped through cherishing each sip rather than like lunch which has to be complete at one go. To summarize, it’s a typical coffee table book which should be read in small bits, thought about and discussed. To me, it is the best coffee table book of the year.”

In the words of Ms. Tina Shamli from SAWYERS copy-editing service, “The Asocial Networking- The subject is very relevant to the present context. The book touches on aspects of social networking that are often swept under the carpet. A good relaxing and humorous read.

My Motivation for writing

I would say it is never too late to achieve your dreams, and it is always the best time to start afresh to go for the kill. The desire to choose professional degree for most of us is often fueled by the necessity to earn good money and lead a decent living in the society. And as MBA grads we are best positioned in the industry to achieve most of these mundane goals. However, when we would grow quite old enough and try to recount the moments which were different, then very a few of those memoirs are left to be relished. This is where our hobbies and passion come in and add a completely different flavor to our otherwise predictable lives. If we could realize this potential early-on in our lives, then I believe that most of us can make it big by simple-thinking and intelligent execution.

So getting to what motivated and inspired me to write the book on ‘social networking’ is social networking itself. The world out there is so very vast, so infinite and so unpredictable, that it presents an entirely new gamut of ‘friendly society’ and animated events loaded with possibilities and opportunities. And given the fact that so many of us are so enthused by this entirely new concept which came out of nowhere and swept us all off our feet- provided me enough material to write  a dedicated book.

The other fact that played more important role is that in India very few people take up full-time writing as compared to other western countries, where there is a whole culture of writing and reading. In world-over (excepting India and few other countries), 1 out of 200 people write a book, whereas in India only 1 out of 10,000 person writes a book. I think, this startling fact of skewed writer to reader ratio in India would be enough even to incite the writerly-buds in readers of this article! However, I have always aspired to reach wider audience through my work. Book-writing certainly proved to be the most convenient and important medium for this.

Also, as I contemplate my past, I had always desired to write a novel but never really got hold of any good story to write about. Besides this, I got this feeling that any works of fiction has a reach and appeal limited to a particular set of people. Or you can also put it like this that I found a glut in terms of content available, which dealt solely in social networking.I wouldn’t say that my book is the best of the lot, but it does have the advantage of dealing in a topic that has few predecessors to compare with. However this first mover advantage is like more of a responsibility to do justice to this gargantuan topic, which is now a rage among all the internet groups.

I would thank AG for having provided me the opportunity to write this article and reach more and more people in the MBA community. I must also thank my friends and colleagues at IIT Kanpur for all the love and support. I credit all my learning to the interactions with my world-class professors as well as my  fellow students, friends and seniors, as the driving force to do something different and break the clutter that has mono-chromatically awed everyone into the buzz-world, social networking.

Few words for the budding writers

I have learned the skill of book writing the hard way and it is always a very slow, arduous and lonely path. To be a writer, at first, you must have the patience of penning down all your thoughts in the manuscript and structure it nicely. Once it is done, you will have to start searching for the publishers who can publish your book and most importantly, do justice to your book as well as your literary career.

Excerpts from the book exclusively for the AG readers!

“It is a surprising thing. How can so many of us be so willing to network in a virtual society? We are fooled into believing that another world exists, which can be the extension of our real lives – so much so, that we are always glued to the blue screen and Facebook – irrespective of whether we are at work, at home or on the fly. We all socialize with aplomb through the exchanges of whatever blabber, gibberish or issues we wish to discuss, by plastering them on our walls – only to be retrieved later in exactly the same format, adulterated with the additives of ‘Likes’ and ‘Comments’ of people on whom we affably confer the term ‘Friend’.”

“Most of these friends of mine only exist in a virtual habitat as they rarely have the time to actually meet me. Still, I keep up with them like a good friend should, by occasionally visiting their homepages, sometimes by stalking their profiles and updates, fearful of waking them up, and sometimes by poaching their friends and family members. These friends have a tendency to show up in thumbnail-sized photographs alongside some text or as names abutting some numbers indicative of my popularity. Whenever they drop in, they carry the gift of glowing numbers that appear on the top left corner of my homepage. They help me fight boredom and ennui by existing in their hundreds and thousands, but most of the time they are in a dormant state and rarely do anything special to attract my attention. Sometime I feel bad about not having time  for everybody, but my close friends make up for inadequacy by constantly keeping me on my toes with their likes and updates in the world of social networking.”

“The world out there is strangely upbeat, with so-called ‘life changing’, ‘only one of its kinds’, ‘the best ever’ categories of material – which in normal parlance is termed ‘multimedia content’. I am often awed, sometimes stupefied, and most of the time listlessly lost, in this world – frenetically pressing the refresh button for some more interesting stuff to pop up. I rarely have the time to do anything in reality, for I know irrefutably that whatever I do on the web will have more widespread repercussions than anything that I could do in the actual world. It is like a bonanza for an action lover like me. I rarely go offline as electronic gadget manufacturers have empowered me with some of their latest gizmos, which helps me to socialize even when I am not hooked to my PC. For an addict like me, it means multiplying my entire lifespan by two – a windfall gain to my longevity.”

“Anyone can fall prey to it – and many have already. We all believe that we get a brand new home when we open a Facebook account. Then we adorn it with our photographs, hobbies, interests, and of course, testimonials from friends who still uphold the virtues of the barter system in our modern world. Then we invite friends and families to our ‘homes’ and exchange freebies. We socialize with others and comment on their thoughts – we blare through the loudspeaker when we have some achievement to share. We also force others to know the mood we are in. We visit friends and acquaintance and stalk strangers with insidiously and innocuous regularity. In short, we exhibit the most sophisticated and suave of all societal characteristics by spending as much time on the web as in the real world, exchanging favours.”

“Perhaps we are all unsatisfied with the one real life we are all blessed with? We are all deprived of an audience, we are unsatisfied by our ‘lesser than life’ image; we are unsatisfied with the normal course of events that fill our days; we are all unhappy with only a few people knowing about us; we are weary that we have to spend most of our life in day-to-day drudgery. We all want to escape this social boredom so that we can liberate ourselves in the relentless world of networking, where we are fooled into believing that we can magnify and often glorify even the little achievements and lead the life of a shooting star.”

“We are also lonely people who wish to share our feelings with the world at large. As a result, we are on an unceasing pursuit to express ourselves in a manner that reflects our personality and charisma. We often go overboard when we are upbeat, sometime diminutive when we are down, and clueless most of the time about why we are so overwhelmed with the concept of social networking. We wish to be heard, thanked and appreciated. We tease our friends; rebuke our adversaries; and appreciate our acquaintances. We are all doubly ‘humane’ when we are glued to the screen, continually hitting buttons and listening for updates that could titillate our inner selves. We post something on the wall and wait for the whole world to respond. We are overjoyed when we see the glowing number at the top left which indicates somebody has tried to connect us. We comment on somebody’s status and expect the whole world to marvel how intelligent and ‘out of box’ we are.”

“It has made me into an introvert. It has also made me look inward through the eyes of others. I hate Facebook. It keeps me occupied even when I am not logged in. The bottom-line is that most of us are having a so-called ‘great time’, while socializing on the web. It brings out the most verbose and outspoken part of ourselves, thereby often driving us to extremes – sometimes to ecstasy, or pleasantly surprising us; or causing amusement; or keeping us engrossed. But most of the time, it instills absolute listlessness and an indifferent obsession with the new virtual reality – social networking.”

“Let’s also talk about Facebook‘s vulnerability, of losing its hegemony owing to the growing numbers of demanding customers who everyday seek new experiences. The fickle minded human poses a great danger to these early captors – who are now making hay in social and financial world – so much so that every investor worth his salt wants a piece of the pie of this networking mania. With technological advancement and growing awareness among common people, the day is not far when more and more PC and mobile manufacturing companies will jump into the fray to outdo each other in providing the best social networking on our palmtops and androids when we are offline.”

“The game of networking has intensified so much and the power shared by three players (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn), that any change of status quo would require huge investment along with ingenuousness from new players. These players would also need the financial wherewithal, charisma, resourcefulness and above all, understanding of the human mind, in order to cajole and manipulate human minds by conjuring up something better than what everyone has become accustomed to. It will be interesting and ironical to see people going the extra mile to socialize on the web with the help of these gadgets when they can actually step forward and socialize with the person standing next to them!”

“Let us attempt to look into the future of humankind and its changing priorities by explaining the future of social networking. In my view, people will become more and more demanding and search for real time experiences as they grow accustomed to the digital mode of socializing. This will lead to a demand for physical meeting places where people can congregate and share their thoughts and experiences. The same places will help people interact in small interest groups, bound by common beliefs, ideologies, hobbies, interests etc. To provide these services, social networking would have to invest heavily in opening brick-n-mortar offices (multi-storey buildings with different floors dedicated to different hobbies or interests), in every major city. I do believe that in future, social networking will not be free as it is now. Once people get used to it, they will not mind paying a user fee in – which is likely to happen.”

“To benefit those who exhibit their social lives on the web, the book also educates one on the small tricks of the trade in mastering the art of networking in order to garner tangible gains in the real world. Let us also look at our vulnerabilities and weaknesses which are often reflected in the way we socialize on the web. Of course, some people have mastered the art of masking their inhibitions, which has worked in their favor and made them desirable and irresistible, both in the electronic world and real world.”

“I present a glimpse into the social order in a hundred years time. With growing industrialization and exploitation of natural resources, industry will move to the most economical locations. This will lead to reaching the highest level of efficiency in every sector. And so will begin a horrendous rate of exploitation of resources, leading in turn to surplus capacity in every sector. The balance of power will slowly collect in the hands of powerful conglomerates, who in a few years time will acquire almost all ownership rights over these natural resources.”

“The world will move in exactly the opposite direction – from perfect competition to the oligopolistic or even monopolistic system that existed two or three centuries ago. What will remain will be small nuclei of power, in the hands of either States or corporations – who will have the operational wherewithal to exhaust almost all the world’s natural resources, if they are allowed to work in isolation.”

“Additionally, every State would be equipped with a repertoire of devastative weaponry, which would have the capability of destroying the entire human race at the word ‘go’. So this will lead to another sort of world democracy building up, where players will be united by their right of equitable distribution of natural resources – not for their growth and prosperity, but for their survival. Every country would be wary of irritating another. State boundaries would all have to go in favor of one nation that will be the Earth. Citizens of the World This entire scenario will, however, develop in its own time. But why should we stop ourselves from gazing into the crystal ball in order to avoid Armageddon?”

I can be contacted at: dhirajmba.iitk@gmail.com

Good luck and happy reading!!

Dhiraj Kumar

MBA (Batch of 2011)

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