i am no expert on digital media or social media, but it’s part of environment now in most urban centres, even rural and remote places, on our planet, so one gets thoughts about it. when my space came into our lives, i started an account i remember, never quite got into it though. and then in quick succession, it was facebook, whatsapp, twitter, instagram. there was snapchat for a while, and now tiktok. for many of us, these would change our day in ways we’d never imagined.

and it would change us. or maybe, not change, but reveal sides of us we had no clue of. or even, we did, but we hid it well, and then, here was a cool, even sexy, way of making legit things we were previously encouraged to carefully conceal.

a friend of mine first told me about instagram a couple of years ago. see, you can have an account and post pictures, he said and he showed me his page. i was flummoxed. why? why would i want to do that? you can see pictures from everyone, he said. everyone? who everyone, i wondered. friends and strangers. i was lost. never could figure out why i’d want to see visuals posted by random folks out there.

if it was a matter of connecting to friends and family in far flung areas, from one’s near and distant past, wasn’t facebook already doing that? so why this? i barely looked at facebook, what would i do with instagram? twitter at least let me see some current news and reintroduced me to snark every day.

nonetheless, i got an instagram account. and in time, started to scan it regularly, and post shots now and then. soon it went beyond browsing pretty pictures. i was shopping for sarees, a great interest of mine, reading tales of fabulous wildlife, observing the sides of people that facebook, twitter, even personal interaction don’t show. last year, during one of the strangest times of my life, when i was practically in exile, my happy light chatty posts on insta helped me live through not very light things. i was genuinely grateful for the non linear, a-3D, almost parallel and curiously existent but not there space facebook and insta offered.

story. insta was the first to get it, if i’m not wrong. of course, now that facebook owns it and whatsapp, they all have the same features, and are becoming almost indistinguishable. i wish big corp thought wouldn’t homogenise so much, the little sharp ideas are so much more relevant and have meaning. and individuality, that priceless thing, why kill it off?

anyway, so now everyone has story. but the insta story somehow i think still holds sway. people seem to have much more connection to it. i rarely opened or read stories. i have missed important messaging because of that… and people don’t only post happy stuff there, there are even calls for help. a story might have saved someone i love a lot once.

the messaging in story is complex i get the feeling. why someone would not make a post of it but go for story i can’t quite figure out. something that is temporary, will disappear in twenty four hours, is passing… is that almost instinctively attractive? because whether we say it or not, whether we register it consciously or not, we know everything in life, everything, is temporary.

deep thought. or maybe it’s simply, there are some things you want to say just then, just the way it is, a thought, a feeling… and you quickly hit story, add a picture, key in something, format, and off you send it. a transient moment taking a form and flying across space to the world out there. see it if you like.

that fleetingness.

yes, it’s nice.

to hold a present moment even as it’s becoming the past, something about it.

people say all kinds of things on story, most of it is blithely inconsequential and even inane. now, why am i not frowning at that? isn’t inconsequential also sometimes needed? if it weren’t, would it exist?

but yesterday, when i posted one of my first stories (i’ve posted maybe one or two before), i was not thinking all this.

as i mentioned, i am into sarees. nowadays, i am trying to increase the frequency of donning them. having lost some weight over the past three years, i feel the need to capitalise on the moment, and dress up in my lovely sarees as often as i can. so yesterday, i was going for lunch and chose a pink tussar silk. i usually wear sarees in the evenings, here was a chance to take some photographs in natural sunlight.

i ran outside and got some pictures take on the phone. my photographer always shoots as she pleases, not always waiting for me to get the right smile and angle. flipping through the pictures, some pleased me, some didn’t, but they all had something shots taken indoors rarely have, unless it’s a professional shoot. the saree doesn’t swirl about, the free end, or pallu, doesn’t fly, there’s no play of saree and you. your expression is more practiced, there’s no crease on your brow thanks to the sun, no red hibiscus accidentally gets framed to the right of your head as you pose in pink.

as i looked at the pictures, i felt a need to show them to someone. yes, definitely a little exhibitionist thing there. but i wasn’t looking for “oh, beautiful” comments, i wanted to share the non stiff, playful air, the interaction with fluttering in the breeze saree, the beauty of a garment that can take you to many moods, never quite obedient and falling in line. and the fun of it.

i knew i’d post them on my saree blog (hardly anyone reads it) but i wanted to do something now. took me a couple of minutes and the story was out.

it is now about to expire. fifty three people including strangers have seen it. friends have said “oh, beautiful’ (duty bound hehe) but they’ve also sensed the fun, gotten involved for a moment, and there’s been repartee.

this is an insignificant, absolutely unimportant communication from me. yet i’m glad it happened.

did i show off? maybe.

but i know you felt a skip of lightness as you browsed. that means something, i am sure.

there will be much studying of social media, many insights, and we will keep changing along with the technologies we create. this was just a para from that experience.

indrani’s index

sarees tell stories | printed tussar from toontooni, kolkata, bought around 2012