When I was asked to attend Pakistan’s first ever social media summit earlier this month, I jumped to it. Because not only it gave me a chance to visit the old country (for me, Karachi would always be old country), it also gave me the opportunity to meet some old friends and make some brand new ones.
|VJ Mathira (Baji Online) with one of her admirers|
The organizers held an informal dinner for the participants to mingle and get to know each other before the summit. Though stand up comedienne Saad Haroon made us all laugh, the star of the show was VJ Mathira who was there in all her sartorial glory including blue contact lenses and leopard print wedge heels. Most men wanted to get their pictures taken with Mathira and she graciously obliged. (The men must be all be silently thanking Tristram Perry for inviting Mathira over)
The summit started next morning and during the opening session, US Consul General in Karachi William Martin said Pakistan is one of the fastest-growing Facebook- and Twitter-using nations in the world but he also lamented the fact that a lot of Pakistanis love to come up with conspiracy theories implicating US in all kinds of wrongdoings in Pakistan which makes his job a tad more difficult.
The opening session was followed by 3 panel discussions on ‘Education and Good Governance: Going Digital’, ‘Women and Social Activism in the New Media Era’ and ‘Monetizing your Social Media Space.’ Knowing that no matter what I do, learning to monetize my social media space is something I won’t learn in an hour and half, I decided to attend the panel on Education and good governance because it has some relevance to my day job.
There were several breakout sessions following the panel discussions on various topics. One of the sessions that I was looking forward to attend to was on “Humor in cyberspace” but the speaker pulled a joke on us and decided not to show up. As we were waiting for the speaker to show up, Jahanzeb Haque of Jay Toons got up and decided to talk about how he started his xkcd inspired stick figures cartoon strip. When he introduced himself, there were audible gasps among the female audience with “OMG, you are Jay Toons guy?” He drew a couple of his strips, including one of his self censored cartoons for the participants and discussed whether art should be created just for the sake of art or does it has to have a higher message. Jahanzeb Haque, or Jay Toons are he was called during the session, was obviously the rock star of the summit. At least I have not heard girls gasping and going breathless at the mention of any other name.
What did I take away from the event? Even though I have been blogging for 4 years now, I never took my blog seriously; for me it was a place where I vent without any editorial guidelines and delays. But the response by some of the participants at the summit made me realize that there are people who not only care what I write, but they do attach a lot of importance to my opinion and I am truly grateful to all of you guys. I am still reeling from the fact that a very smart and intelligent young reader of my blog wanted to get his picture taken with me. I now know how Meera feels and can empathize with her.
PS: Must thank Raza and Tristram publicly for inviting me and giving me an opportunity to feel like a celebrity.
PPS: A special shout out to @pishipotty for his twitter handle.
PPPS: I made it to the Tribune’s twitterati of Pakistan but they called me brainchild behind A Reluctant Mind. I thought A Reluctant Mind was MY brainchild.
Find the complete version on The Friday Times