Neither does he produce any content, nor does he makes any of those funny memes he posts. He does not even necessarily ideate. But he has a good eye, great insights and a hilarious sense of humour. He makes people smile by simply sharing fun content from across the Internet. The surprising bit is this: he has more than 65,000 followers on his Facebook page, and even a Quora question asking who he is.
Meet Shashank Thala, born Shashank Ravi, a research scientist in the US by profession, and a Facebook celebrity by passion. All he does is share interesting and entertaining content, but he is famous internet persona now, “I generally share posts that I find interesting on the internet, mostly the ones that are positive, feel good and humorous. The posts usually can be related by local Tamil Nadu audience such as my opinions on Tamil movies, CSK, childhood memories and breaking news in Chennai ,” he says, speaking to The News Minute.
Shashank had never planned to make his Facebook page popular, it just happened. “The number of followers gradually increased in last three years.” He says it was mainly because of a few of his tweets which got published in newspapers and aired during IPL, which got him few thousand followers instantly.
“The blog about my journey in and out of Master of Science also helped several prospective students to apply for MS and they have later thanked me for inspiring them. I also share my cooking photos, stress on how life style changes when you are away from home.”
But the phenomenon is more than just him – he is among the several individuals and pages who have amassed thousands of followers online being active on social media, and being a general smartass.
He started his Facebook profile like any other youngster in 2009, and in two years, he realized that his posts were frequently being shared by people. In 2012, he changed his privacy option to public. “This provided the follow button on to my profile. Hence people started subscribing and hence here I am,” he says. He is a Chemical Engineer from SVCE in Chennai and completed his Masters in Environmental Engineering in Iowa State University.
He shares content from internet and memes created by notable creators. “I try my best to ensure these posts are accurately credited. In case I miss crediting someone, subscribers help me with tagging the actual creators,” he says.
But his page is not just a source of entertainment, but was also very helpful to people during the Chennai floods. “I ensured I regularly posted requesting info about power, phone network, water logging and traffic. in different areas, and several thousand subscribers pitched in and shared the info they knew about their locality. It was a tremendous team effort,” he says.
Even so, the cult status he has achieved is somewhat staggering. For instance, this answer on Quora to a question asking who he is, has more than 10,000 views. And here is how a user described him –
Shashank Thala can be split into 2 parts. Shashank Thala the phenomenon, and Shashank Thala the person.
Shashank Thala the phenomenon was one who came into the public eye sometime soon after the Ramesh Srivats phenomenon, alongside Sarcasan and a few others, when the idea of witty Facebook and Twitter statuses began trending. I realized much later that he had been extremely active on places like Orkut as well, but I think his popularity soared during the boom of witty statuses. One thing which makes me feel is the reason he connects so easily with so many people, is that his statuses are laden with facts that were the matter-of-fact for the 90s kids, and therefore, anyone who grew up in the 90s has been able to relate very easily to his statuses. Another reason is that he is an active proponent of funny and witty ideas of not just himself, So, effectively, his page is the one stop shop to any humorous or relatable take on current issue.
Now onto Shashank Thala the person. I've been fortunate to get to know him a little better over the last couple of months. From what I've known, he is a fantastic human being with no airs whatsoever of his online standing. He is someone who relates to most issues in a manner we all do, and that makes him extremely approachable. That's about almost everything I know about "Who" Shashank Thala is. :)
What explains this phenomenon? Well, we like memes, we like having fun online and we have a lot of time on our hands.