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Sreedhar Pillai Headshot

Could Elvis Have Shaped the Social Web Differently?

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Facebook has amassed a gargantuan membership of over a billion people and Twitter aims to catch up with new features like Vine, taking micro-blogging to new levels. This spectacular growth of the social web, no doubt, is largely due to its nature as a free place for social interaction.

However, the role in the growth and evolution of social web, of pop stars and celebrities like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, who have enhanced their fan base and interact with their fans through social web, is also indisputable.

But what about Elvis Presley, who sent millions around the world in a frenzy without hardly ever stepping out of the U.S. soil and just by singing "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You," when no one had even heard of the social web? Could he have shaped the social web to be a totally different place from as we know it today?

There is no denying that without the television neither Elvis Presley nor Lady Gaga would have reached the level of popularity they attained. So the integration of the social web with television by most recent technological advances like social streaming and social DVR, which allows for real time interaction over social media with time shift, would have evolved naturally.

However, the popularity of Lady Gaga, who is a singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer and activist on the social web is largely based on her daring stage appearances, issues like bullying and causes like LGBT rights, which the artist actively support.

Her achievements, like being invited to speak at Harvard, are more of a reflection of her beliefs and support of the issues she has chosen to champion for. As a result, the technology she sought was a means to interact with her fans on the web regarding those issues, enhancing her presence among her fans, which created her famous back room chats with her fans and which rendered her role of counseling her fans possible.


But in the case of Elvis Presley, it was his talent, good looks, sensuality, charisma and good humor which endeared him to millions, as did the humility and human kindness he demonstrated throughout his life. Known the world over by his first name, he is regarded as one of the most important figures of 20th-century popular culture. He has been described as the sexiest man of his generation, so manly yet beautiful!

In the words of music historian John Robertson, Elvis was "a flirtatious teenage idol with a heart of gold; a tempestuous, dangerous lover; a gutbucket blues singer; a sophisticated nightclub entertainer; [a] raucous rocker."

Years after his death, fans continue to yearn for him with comments like, "We will never have someone like him again... Elvis, unique, wonderful, our king forever!!!!"

Obviously, the persona of Elvis Presley, which had no need of a social web for the entire world to swoon for him, might have attracted the entire world to Facebook, if he were to have a fan page!

Given the wild passion and infatuation his fans felt for him as was evident from his concerts, it is conceivable that tactile technologies, like the remote kissing devices, would have found their place in Facebook much head of simple chat.

May be you could have enjoyed an on demand virtual concert by Elvis Presley singing "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You," just for you.

Perhaps a new version of the Aloha from Hawaii music concert, that was headlined by Elvis Presley, and broadcast live via satellite around the world on January 14, 1973, in which fans could rejoice by touching Elvis, using this invention, wherever they happened to be could have been broadcast through Facebook or whatever name the media would have been called.

There is of course many things one can imagine as was possible. The predominant factors would be the key elements that made Elvis irresistibly humane and accessible to millions. One thing is sure, whatever shape the social web would have assumed, it would have done more to bind people of the world in romance, love, passion and compassion, qualities which Elvis was graced with in abundance.