Created on January 24th, 2004 and deactivated on September 30th, 2014, the social network Orkut was a pioneer in Brazil, reaching more than 300 million users around the world. Scraps, testimonials, reviews, people who visited the profile, communities with fun names, BuddyPoke and Colheita Feliz are some of the nostalgic resources left by the social network.
The social network was named after the creator of the platform, the Turkish Orkut Buyukkokten, who resides in the United States and has already worked at Google. Currently, the engineer is CEO of hello.com and, since 2019, he is a columnist for GAY BLOG BR.
Gay and an activist of diversity and equality, Orkut is a frequent commentator on the positive and negative impacts of social networks. He is also an avid programmer, bartender and professional massage therapist. He loves to dance and interact, especially with Brazilians. Buyukkokten, even, comes annually to the country to drink caipirinhas and meet people.
In an exclusive interview with GAY BLOG BR in 2019, Orkut Buyukkokten spoke about relationships in the digital age and his view on gay culture. Remember the interview:
Being gay is something you’ve been dealing with transparently since Orkut.com. Do you consider yourself an activist? And when you were in Brazil, did you went to any party/nightclub?
I actively participate in LGBT events and causes and I also host many events. In the United States, I have been involved with organizations StartOut, GLAAD, Dot429 and REAF. I haven’t had the opportunity to go to any LGBT event in Brazil yet. However, I look forward to participating and being part of the gay community in Brazil.
The recent Human Technology study shows that using social networking apps can be quite toxic. How is this scenario on gay apps?
The Center of Human Technology has monitored the time of use on smartphones and the degree of happiness of users. The number one app that makes people most unhappy is Grindr. In apps like Grindr, you are not a person; you are a figure or a body part. The experience of using these apps desensitizes us and makes us dumb. This reduces us to our bodies. The negative impact of mutual objectification that we experience in these apps makes dating, romance and sex insignificant, unsatisfactory. My advice would be to delete and stop using apps that focus on instant gratification, casual sex and “fast fuck”.
The time spent using relationship apps was considered disproportionate to happiness. At what point should the user realize that it is time to disconnect and take a break?
People use apps like Grindr for an average of hours per day. And that time is spent feeling unhappy and bad about ourselves. Spending time on these apps makes us feel insecure, isolated, desperate, anxious and unhappy. Often, the longer you chat online with someone, the more expectations you can create. My recommendation would be to personally transcend these experiences as early as possible: a cup of coffee or a walk in a park to share real life experiences.
What is the main difference from flirting ten years ago and now, via social networks?
A decade ago, it was enough to just go out on the street to flirt, receive a smile and start a conversation. The flowing conversation could lead to something more: a drink, a dinner or maybe a party. If we liked each other’s company, we would consider the meeting a success. We could end the night with a kiss: a sign that we were both interested in each other and that we possibly wanted to see each other again. We live in a time when most flirting and dating experiences in the real world have been replaced by likes-oriented dating apps. These apps essentially make our relationships disposable. It also allows us to maintain the illusion that there is always someone better out there around the corner. It has never been easier for us to connect with other people, we have never had more options for people to love, and perhaps it is this same possibility and choice that makes our feelings of loneliness more acute, more present and real.
About the orkut.com platform, what was the biggest challenge?
We were not anticipating how fast orkut.com would grow when we launched. The architecture and infrastructure were initially not designed to handle millions of users. As a result, we had a major engineering challenge to make the application scalable with an active platform that already had a huge user base.
What function or feature did you like the most on Orkut? Is there anything you regret?
My favorite part of orkut.com was communities. They provided a space where everyone felt safe and could genuinely express how they felt and what they thought. It brought people together around shared passions and made it possible to create meaningful relationships. Something I would have liked to do at that time is to launch an app version for mobile devices.
What’s new about Hello? What should we expect from the app this year?
We are currently working on our web version of Hello and a new design. Expect exciting updates. We also have personalities who embrace LGBT culture, as well as countless popular communities like Gays From Brazil and Gays From São Paulo, created and moderated by our LGBT members.
Overall, how do you evaluate the LGBT community today?
I think that, more than ever, it is important to practice kindness in our community. Gays are generally not kind to each other – unless there is some interest: be it a business contact, a dating or to be a fuck friend. Often, you go to a club or bar and meet people who simply judge you on your clothes. At nightlife, people seem to have a lot of anxiety, exaggerate with hard drugs and focus on casual sex. You realize that it is a jungle out there and you hate that it has become your community. Even drag queens, who are often references to gays, can embody hateful and unpleasant characters. I can understand the occasional humor, but I don’t understand putting a “standard” on a pedestal, knowing that they’re being mean, and knowingly or not, they spread hate. Is this really how we want to portray our culture? There are so many fantastic gay men who are role models for all of us, who have had an unquestionably good impact on the world. Sometimes, when I think about how we treat ourselves, I feel that we have diminished our achievements. The covers of many gay magazines are always praising movie stars or celebrities who came out of the closet. I have friends who came out when they were 13. What makes celebrity stories and movie stories so important? Why can’t we celebrate and put people with creative or intellectual achievements on the covers instead of pretty models? The gay community is incredibly creative, compassionate, intelligent and generous. We produce some of the most talented entrepreneurs, designers, engineers, athletes and artists in the world. We need to focus on that, too. We don’t need to have a community revolving around dick size, clubber culture, working, jock-straps, go-go dancers and 30cm dildos. Be proud and happy to be who you are. Don’t settle for less. Don’t offer your body to someone who won’t text or call you the next day. Live and breathe your values and be the person you aspire to be. Get out of the closet, be proud, be smart, be committed. Be strong. Don’t let anyone sabotage your light. Express yourself.
Please come to Brazil!
I will definitely be there later this year. We are in the process of finalizing my itinerary.
Read the texts in the Orkut column at this link.