This year, in just under two months, the Internet has thrown up many new juggernauts. Lakshmi Krupa on all that’s making news now

If there’s one thing the social media has done, it is doing away with the difference between the ‘tech-savvy’ and the ‘not-so-tech savvy’. Just ask Facebook, the great leveller, which has been in the news for — among other things — the fact that more ‘old people’ are on it now than ever before. For even an admittedly tech illiterate person such as yours truly, 2014 has already thrown up many a surprise. The New Year has brought with it a whole new perspective on the power of the ‘viral’. Its ‘happy as sunshine’ side is almost too cute to handle (read as ‘100 Happy Days’ project) while a deadly drinking game, is almost making me want to quit social media sooner than later.

A gone goose

A while ago, I read this cryptic status message from someone on my timeline on Facebook. “'Describe your life in two words.' 'Flappy Bird’.” Soon I was reading stories and watching Youtube videos on how annoyingly simple and tough at the same time this game was. The story of Flappy Bird is, in a sense, the story of our times.

For the uninitiated, Flappy Bird is a mobile game that indie developer Dong Nguyen from Vietnam launched in 2013. With a vintage ‘Mario’ like look, the game requires you to move a bird forward without hitting the green pipes that dot its digital landscape. Sounds simple enough, but it is (was) a frustratingly tough game to play. And as games go, the simpler it seemed (deceptively so) the more addictive it was. And everywhere I went, I heard of this annoying bird! All was well and Flappy Birds seemed headed towards a happy ending that could earn Nguyen a lot of green when a tweet shook the world. “I am sorry 'Flappy Bird' users, 22 hours from now I will take 'Flappy Bird' down. I cannot take this anymore,” he announced on Twitter. It was shared more than 1.44 lakh times on the social media site. The developer explained that he created the game so that people could relax and was deleting it because people were getting addicted to it. At a time when every new technological business is looking for ways to keep people hooked to their gadgets, Nguyen’s move is at once bizarre and reassuring. Even as others say ‘there must be more to this than meets the eye’, I am happy enough with his explanation. Rumour has it that phones with the Flappy Bird game are now selling like hotcakes.

My new motto…

…is to not feel tempted into buying a phone while my old phone works perfectly fine. Well that does not seem like a motto that will last, what with Motorola and Flipkart going on an aggressively feel good campaign. What is so ‘feel good’ about it you ask? The new Moto G (cue jokes about the phone that commands our respect so much that we need to suffix a ‘ji’ to its name) available exclusively on Flipkart for Rs.12,499 (8GB) and Rs. 13,999 (16GB), sold several thousand units within hours of being launched. The 16GB version has been sold out and you can now pre-book it if you want to and get on a queue.

Reviews have been pouring in from all corners, and so far they all seem to say, paisa vasool! Apart from the pricing, what has drawn a lot of admiration for the phone has been its strong battery support. Now all of us with a smartphone know how annoying it is to have a phone that is constantly instructing us to connect the phone to a charger. (I also think we should all consider starting a change.org campaign asking Android phone companies to make polite phones that will say things like, ‘Kindly charge me’, ‘Please give me some food’. Honestly, ‘Connect your phone to a charger’ sounds like an instruction. We could all do with one less instruction in life. No?)

And the Oscar goes to…

Ok, admit it, you found that meme on Facebook that says “Thanks for sharing your Facebook movie. Here’s your (insert expletive) Oscar” hilarious even if you did share your movie. When Facebook turned 10 this year they decided to do something they do best. Make it seem like it’s all about us. Well it worked. The “movie” set to a soaring background score showcased snippets from our first post to most popular photos! While for some of us this was a lot of fun, there were also others who found the movie irrelevant. For instance, some photographer friends on my list complained about how their entire movie was about other ten married couples’ best moments. Ouch.

The most heartening thing to have come out of this entire affair is the story of John Berlin whose 21-year-old son died two years ago. He made a very emotional video requesting Facebook and Zuckerberg to let him see his son’s movie. Berlin had seen his as well as others’ movies in which his son’s photo popped up and then wanted to see his son’s movie! The video went viral and in no time Facebook had released his son’s ‘lookback’ movie.

Gulp!

From the heartening to the scary. A college student recently told me about this “insane” new game called neknomination. “A lot of my friends have been posting it. It’s just madness!” he said. The game requires you to down alcohol and attempt a dare, recording it all as a video. You then post the game online and name two people and then they each attempt the dare!

There have been four shocking reports of people dying while attempting the game. There has also been concern on underage drinking and here’s the worst part, its popularity has only been rising. Form underage drinking to threat to life, the game is symptomatic of how the Internet need not always advocate what’s best. Take it with a pinch of salt, and when it sounds ridiculous give it a miss. Here’s hoping the game morphs into something better, such as the South African and Canadian version where instead of performing risky tasks people are encouraged to perform a random act of kindness and post a video!

Oh happy days

We will end on a happy note of course. If you haven’t already heard, the 100 Happy Days Project challenges you to ask yourself if you can be happy for 100 days on a row. “We live in times when super-busy schedules have become something to boast about. While the speed of life increases, there is less and less time to enjoy the moment that you are in. The ability to appreciate the moment, the environment and yourself in it, isthe base for the bridge towards long term happiness of any human being. 71 per cent of people tried to complete this challenge, but failed quoting lack of time as the main reason. These people simply did not have time to be happy. Do you?” the website http://100happydays.com/ asks.

While you may wonder what happiness has to do with taking a picture and displaying it for all and sundry, it is still a fun project and will also tell you a little bit about yourself.

For instance, two days into the project I discovered that the thing that truly brings me joy almost always is good food. Bring on that Tiramisu.