When I sat waiting for the event held by the Economics and Administration School of the University of São Paulo among a crowd of less than 50, in the first months of 2007, along with Olivia and my roommate sitting right behind us, none understood how big of a deal it was to hear Orkut Büyükkökten in person, but I assume that one or two knew what that meant to his country of origin. 12 years later, the self-proclaimed biggest online news show in the world would be commenting on a various scope of entertainment, culture, politics and sociolinguistics themes, working with donations to maintain a streaming service with the same quality of well-established media outlets, platforms, channels, vehicles or whatever people call them these days.
This young man had a theory. Everyone you know can connect you to a handful of people you don’t know; on the other hand, you have to say hi. Enter Omegle, the network I grew up in, invented by an underage genius. Few people know his name, but most parents will agree, with an obvious observation to other parents who don’t care about interaction classification, that before Instagram went mainstream definitely, that place would tell you everything you need to know about the web. Eric Cartman would agree, although his friends would secretly think he was there to rate performances.
I’m aware that half of the people I know want a longer text on this topic, but the other half, as pointed out by a childhood friend named Alec, wants me to explain why I can’t acknowledge I was extremely lucky in the last few years. We all meet random people, but when you stumble upon the right one, you’ll have a connection that’s very real, and spend years making people see what you saw in it (edit: in them). The problem is some of them are thinking about marriage; the majority, perhaps, are not.
I’m not online to be the founder of a scary book club. I could create a “let’s make boring long texts close to being ok for social media” kind of circle, but that’s pretty much what everyone does, except I just killed the entire concept of hierarchy with that statement. Wouldn’t it be better if people knew who I was following? They can click my profile, I don’t care if they screenshot my conversations, but they see what I care about and they try to follow the same kind of thing — unless the exact date when the word “stalker” made it in a dictionary needs a thesis to explain I just needed a fun conversation starter.
And haven’t we seen this before? “Who to follow”, “because you follow”, and even “you will never know love unless you follow”. We’re all supposed to be curators, free users and friendly neighbors, but we’re stupid to the point of making people believe machines won the chess game, not people. Where’s my brick-laying robot?