I have been spending a lot of time in orkut (also called orkutting). Maybe its the enthusiasm of a new found toy or maybe orkut is really addictive. One of the things that keeps me entertained in orkut (apart from drooling at girl's photographs) is the whole testimonial thingie. If you don't know what a testimonial is - let me explain. If a person has a profile in orkut - a friend of that person writes a testimonial about the profile owner. Testimonial by definition is like an attestation of various attributes of this person (beauty, friendship, character etc) by an other person. It is like those old ladies in Surf detergent advertisement who give testimonials on TV that the detergent is simply awesome. Here people give testimonials about other people in orkut. Ofcourse people give testimonials in courts also but thats a separate story.
"She is a good girl. Absolutely fantastic. If you haven't met her you don't know what you are missing" insists one testimonial writer on a orkut profile. Another person writes in a testimonial "she is so sensitive, helpful, courageous, adjective4, adjective5, adjective6, adjective7, you must get to know her". Then ofcourse there are guys slipping in a semi-droolish "she is so beautiful" under the guise of being cool and frank but secretly hoping the girl noticed their tactful flirt.
As a reader - I am not sure how to react to these testimonials. They make me feel like a customer. I like what I am seeing. I am impressed with the testimonial, written about an unknown person, by other unknown people. I have to say, I completely trust these testimonials because I know that the profile owner would not have censored bad testimonials and would have done her/his best to present a complete opinion of himself/herself -- ;-) (yeah! right!). So I'd like to buy the person. Say if Shailaja's testimonial has glowing praises of her - I want to buy 5 Shailaja's and you can throw in a Suman also. Shailaja is sensitive, courageous, smart and beautiful (and intelligent) and Suman is very helpful around the house. I am looking for a product package that is smart, sensitive etc and one which can help around the house. How much should I pay? Oh! what? You weren't up for sale? Why not? Then what is the deal with the testimonials? Why does Raju have 53 testimonials that sing praises about how 'understanding' and 'helpful' he is? What is the end of this?
But what confuses me more is that these Shailaja's of the world have allowed these testimonials to do a fantastic marketing pitch for her but she wont let boys have 'fraanship' with her. In the 'about me' column she writes 'please dont request friendship from me if you dont know me' (this is really really common in most girl's profiles). And one of her testimonials read "you dont know what you are missing out on, if you arent friends with her" (this sort of a testimonial I found in over 50 profiles). This is too contradictory for a person like me. Yes! I am missing out. I understand the pain of the testimonial writer in imploring me to make 'fraanship' with this girl. I'd like to help him. But I can't do anything about it.
And the boys in orkut. Boys in general. I mean God had a wicked sense of humor when he created such a sex starved species such as the male homosapien. I guess most men in orkut are walking hard-on's. Most men enter orkut , browsing through profiles, internet, skype directory thinking " i need to get laid. will she work". I think the biological circuitry for the entire species is wired that way. Ofcourse girls - your friend (who is a boy) is different, your brothers (both real and created) are different. But they are the same :-). They are different while being the same. I dont mean to condescend (well! I do but thats a separate topic) but in all honesty, I sympathize with my fellow male species. There is this overwhelming desire to make the 'sex' but they have to make the 'fraanship' first. So you see all these guys leaving messages "will you make friends with me" -- "can I be your friend". So what the internet has done is bring out the male stupidity into the public domain. In my college days we had guys hand out landmark greeting cards (with a passionate face), love letters (no email in my college days, no chat, no mobile - can you believe it?). The only messenger in my days was another friend who communicated 'love' and 'feelings' to this girl. The girl tore up these cards or bashed up the messenger. However, it was all well concealed and happened in private. The boy rarely suffered public humiliation.
Things like skype and orkut are irresistable to the male species. On one hand all girls are in a centralized place (imagine a congragation of 'figures' in one place - that is orkut) and there is opportunity to flirt. But on the other hand its ripe and presents enormous scope for public humilaition. But the male of the species still bite it. They have an open profile with testimonials, brothers, sisters etc and they still leave 'fraanship' messages in unknown profiles. I have laughed so loud at certain guys begging, pleading and imploring for 'fraanship' in orkut. And I dont blame him. If you haven't seen orkut, go surf it - there are some seriously good looking girls out there. Would I have done in my 18-25 sex starved age? Yes! But I have the right to hypocrisy as much as the next guy.
Then there is this skype thing. My skype account is in my wife's name and I often get messages asking "would you like to be my friend". I mean the guys can just see a name on the directory. All they can see is a bunch of alphanumeric characters that indicate that the account owner is a female. Imagine how 'turned on' or sex starved the male of the species must be to just go ahead with just a name. Sometimes they call directly on skype and sometimes they send text messages. Depending on my mood I play with him or ignore him. When I play with him, I ask him point blank "are you sex starved? is that why you are messaging me". And you should see the nonsense he throws out as replies. From "I want to be your true friend" to "I want to be your brother" to "arent you a proper indian girl... why do you talk like this" - its a laugh riot. I, ofcourse, am on the other side of the fence and I feel so powerful breaking the ego of these vulnerable men with the sleight of the keyboard. Its an amazing experience. I can now see the dominance that women have over men.
Orkut is a theater. And people play their parts I guess. I think its more relevant to people in school/college than others. Maybe having 570 fans is a status symbol in some colleges. who knows?