Farewell to Orkut

Remember those heady days of sending scraps and giving testimonials? We had just graduated from mass emails and chatting on Yahoo messenger and Orkut was waiting for us. We didn’t have names on Orkut, we had names with special characters. Remember friends who called themselves R@nnd$$, arbaz my sweetie-π u r so kewl’? Instead of walls and timelines, we, good old oldies had scraps (from scrapbooks that we pathetic creatures used in school?). And the ‘friend requests’! Or should I say ‘making frandship’ scraps!!

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Today, 30th of September, Google is shutting down Orkut and there have been many a tearful farewells to the once extremely popular site in India. “Thanks for helping us showoff when we needed the most” says a tweet. “GrandPaa! Thanks for making stalking so easy… ;)” says another. “R.I.P. #Orkut. You did good in your age and time. Thanks for giving me only good memories! :)”… “Someone give him param veer chakra :P”…”I got laid for the first time via #Orkut ”… Among the various eulogies, shining bright is Misguided Bramhastra, a song composed for Orkut’s demise. If you are not crying by now, you will surely be weeping by the time the song ends with “It’s time for you to lie six feet underground”. Crying for relief that the song’s ended, that is. In 2003, Google offered $30 million bucks for Friendster, one of the very first social networking sites founded in 2002 by Jonathan Abrams. (Remember Napster, the godfather of sharing music with pals? Well, add friend to that.) Once declined, Orkut was ready to happen.

 

 On 24 January 2004, Orkut was launched by Google on a single server, that was not even its own. It was built by Google employee and former Stanford graduate Orkut Buyukkokten. Building it entirely on his own, Orkut used whatever tools and servers were available to him, most non-Google. It took some time for Google to even acknowledge it as its own but it did and Orkut took the world (Well, Brazil and India) by storm. India was completely and absolutely besotted with this new social networking baby. So much so it even got the 2007 MTV India Youth Icon award. When you saw the ‘Recent visited’ names, you got a thrill. Don’t deny it, you did! We changed the theme of our page often (Of course we had nothing else to do. There was no Facebook then!)

 

Why Orkut did not work finally has many answers. Maybe it had become too shady, too full of porn profiles with false names, too full of mass scraps (Remember the million ‘Good morning’ scraps you used to get?) and too full of hate groups. The main ‘maybe’ was, however, Facebook. Also founded in 2004, just a few days after Orkut, Facebook hit us hard around 2009. By 2010, Orkut was unofficially quite ‘six feet under’.

 

As I go through my scraps a last time, I come across gems from friends (and no, we can’t see what gems we ourselves have sent to others!!). Some made me smile, some cringe and all made me nostalgic. Go check out Orkut one last time if you haven’t already. Download whatever you have there and bid farewell to an old friend, or old Fr@@nd, rather. We’ll miss you.

Rhinusmita Kakoty Lahkar

Rhinusmita Kakoty Lahkar

Rhinusmita Kakoty Lahkar started off as a reporter cum copyeditor for the magazine North East Sun. She has been an editor with Tata McGraw-Hill and have also been associated as a freelance with publishing houses like Rupa, OUP, Wisdom Tree, Viva. She has been deputy coordinator with Centre for Science and Environment. She is passionate about sports, books and movies.