Friday, July 18, 2014

Why it was a mistake to write on Quora ...

I loved Quora. It felt very liberating to write answers for questions in the small chunks of free time during school hours . Writing helps me think better and when I am angry, it helps me figure out who I am angry at and if I am being reasonable.

Quora had enough audience to stoke my ego. Enough people who didn't quite know me all that well. It was perfect, considering it was a way to give back the Quora community and all that.

This went for a bit, until this really long day when I was thinking about Google food in a bout of nostalgia. I had just come back from home to a fridge filled with soggy rotten vegetables and gooey stuff that I hadn't bothered to clear out in a long time. It is then I answered a question, in elaborate detail, on what it feels like to work at Google on Quora, focussing only on the food. The answer became super popular.

I should have been really pleased about it. However, I knew that it wasn't really for the quality of the answer that people liked the post. It was about the tales from the magic world of amazing food that kind of triggered this reaction.

Then came the stalking. Suddenly, my Linkedin profile had a thousand views a day. People started deluging me with messages in Quora on how to get into Google. Some of the memorable and amusing messages asked me questions like "You are from ECE, how do you know to code" and the assorted variations of how Indians generally view the differences between the branches of engineering.

This was followed by the hundred friend requests on Facebook. I was starting to feel a little creeped out because I didn't quite understand how people would like to connect with a stranger on Facebook just because they liked the said person's answer in Quora.

I was waiting for the wave to die down when I discovered this "other" inbox on Facebook. Apparently, all the messages from people who I have never interacted with gets filed under "other". I discovered about 300 messages from random frandship messages to earnest questions, all about getting into Google. At least, FB did a pretty good job of hiding this from my view up until a few days before.

This is when I realized that I had inadvertently hawked a dimension of Google's awesomeness on the Quora trade floor.

All of this was easy to ignore, until today when I discovered a question under my undergrad alumni page where some anonymous answer seeker had felt compelled to ask "How did Uttara get a job in Google after CIT".

I found this disrespectful on so many many grounds. There is really no need for my job skills to be a topic of conversation. More than that, I knew I wasn't really the model of what people expected out of a mere girl at CIT. I've bruised a lot of macho egos and all these blokes were collectively pissed at me in various points in their time at CIT. I am very well aware how the forum could be used to spew their pent up hatred.

The other reason why I found this insulting was that the person asked this question anonymously. There were so many ways that they could have approached me if they thought I could help, but no - etiquette has never been a part of the stringent moral code that my undergrad institution tried to impart on people. I have known people who had no qualms about copying my Statement of Purpose word for word and sending it out to universities and somehow thought it was okay. Somehow all these things are okay. What is a day in life of a Tamilnadu Engineering student without Plagiarism, right? One can win thousands of money in the ridiculous paper presentation contests by ripping off every word from a famous paper in their field. It is disgusting that all this is deemed completely acceptable.

Funnily enough, what is not acceptable at all, is girls wearing sleeveless tops or guys wearing jeans. I once was asked to write by hand, a request for permitting some students to go off for a competition, because the same letter, when printed instead of being handwritten, was disrespectful

I am sick of this. I am sick of how the likes of my undergrad institution trains people to think what is okay and what is not.

And Oh, I decided to pull off my Google answer. There is really no reason for people not to be happy with whatever they are happy doing, without thinking about all the great food they are missing out on. In retrospect, it was rather childish of me to have written the damn thing in the first place. I should drool at the pictures of the mango festival in the privacy of my apartment if I become hungry.

 I have often wondered about the abuse operations in Quora and how they manage to scale it having worked in G+ abuse myself. Let me see if they do pull down the question I requested to be pulled out.

So, Congratulations Anonymous poster! -you have successfully managed to anger me after years of not letting social media get to me. I thought my experience with the Internet denizens should have taught me better.

P.S: I really don't have time to do the mandatory grammatical error check. All errors are to be attributed to the extreme ire I writing this post in.