More than just liking, sharing, subscribing: using social media to create meaningful connections

Join forces for good

In 2018, while browsing Facebook, Kunal Jhawar, 30, came across the profile of Kshitiz Kakodkar, 31, on a networking group. As both were entrepreneurs in the media field, they decided to meet and from there their combined company was born — kalArt. Jhawar is a poet and Kakodkar focuses on art. They joined forces and now both manage and produce spoken word content and also help other spoken word artists.

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Kakodkar lives in Mumbai while Jhawar resides in Pune and they run their business remotely, meeting a few times a year. “I met Kshitiz when I wanted to start my own YouTube channel. But when we started talking things took a different shape and here we are. We met through the internet and are still running our business online,” says Jhawar.

They also connect and meet their customers online, as the spoken word scene has exploded in recent years.

Friendship strikes a chord

Browsing through her timeline, 18-year-old Sukrit Chandel came across the profile of 18-year-old Aastha Johar. They first interacted in July 2021 when Chandel responded to Johar’s tweet. Johar hails from Chandigarh, the hometown of Chandel’s mother and their interactions continued. Chandel says, “I started looking forward to Aastha’s responses.”

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With many common interests, extroverts realized they looked alike. They had tried their hand at stand-up comedy, had been born in the same maternity ward and under the same gynecologist. The friendship blossomed and after “three months of nonstop banter, gossip and study sessions later, I went to Chandigarh to meet her,” Chandel shares. During lunch he met Johar’s parents and he says he didn’t feel like they were meeting for the first time. The two also learned that their mothers were classmates in college, which further strengthened their friendship. “She’s my personal stand-up actress. But she’s also my rock and my support system,” Chandel quipped.

love knows no bounds

Shoaib Ahmed, 26, from Bengaluru, was mesmerized by Aashna Khan, 26, when he first saw her in his mutual friend’s Facebook photo. He sent her a friend request and they started talking. It was in 2011. But over time, they moved away.

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In 2016, Ahmed decided to reach out again and found Khan on Instagram. Even over time, their friendship remained the same and they picked up where they left off. He says, “I was looking through every profile, trying to find her. I liked him, but the intention was always simple, to be friends. In 2021, as everyone around him was getting married, he began to wonder if he was going to have his happily ever after. “In my previous relationships, I never had the kind of feelings I have for Aashna.” He finally told her how he felt in January of this year and the feelings were mutual. While currently in a long-distance relationship, the two plan to get married soon with the blessing of their families.

love bloomed

Jovita, 29, and Shannon Pereira, 35, started talking on Facebook in 2014 when he reached out to her. Mistaking him for a girl, due to his unisex name, she replied to him. As he was working on board, he was “quite straight from the start, because he knew he was only here for a few days,” says Jovita. They both lived in Mumbai in the same locality and met on the same day. The two ended up talking all evening. When Shannon returned to the UAE, they continued to have a long-distance relationship for over three years.

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A few months before they could get married, Shannon quit her job and returned to India. The two have been together for eight years now and are parents to a daughter and a dog. “We often talk about how things have changed. It feels like yesterday when we first met, and now we are married and have a child together. It’s very surreal, especially since it started from a Facebook chat,” says Jovita with a smile.

No business like the blog business

Prarthana Vyavahare, 21, from Pune, took a break from the stress of preparing for her medical exams in 2019. But not one to sit idly by, she rekindled her love for writing and started blogging on the news. She met Ashish Kamble, 25, and Manoj Khetan, civil engineer and graphic designer, respectively, on Twitter.

Kamble reached out to her for writing advice and after a long call, they started working on her blog. Wanting to intern for her, Khetan also sought employment. Since Vyavahare had noticed his work, “we welcomed him into our team”.

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Although they live in different cities – Pune, Aurangabad and Surat – they publish three articles a day. “Our work has allowed us to start growing our team. We are now an artist promotion platform,” says Vyavahare.

Despite the remarkable growth they witnessed and numerous professional calls, they never met in person.

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