The rise of twitter nation
Pritish Nandy, 26 April 2010
The tweet has quietly emerged as one of the most lethal weapons of war today. Humble, easy, seemingly innocuous, it's proving to be amazingly powerful in its reach and impact. Irrespective of whether twitter survives or not in the highly competitive world of social networking where every week sees a new innovation, the tweet will go down in history as one of the most subversive weapons of modern warfare. If you aim it right, it can knock down the mightiest opponent. But if you're not careful, as Lalit Modi wasn't, the tweet can come back and hit you doubly hard. In that sense, contemporary as it may appear to be, the tweet's identical to the old fashioned, double edged sword.
It's ostensibly just another way to chat. Brevity is its defining factor. Whatever you have to say, you must say in 140 characters, which includes even the address of your recipient. That's what sets it apart from all other forms of communication: Cutting edge brevity. That's what allows the tweet to sidestep the noisy clutter of blogs and emails and long, boring stuff we read everywhere, trapped within an archaic edifice of language, grammar, punctuation, etiquette. The tweet needs nothing, absolutely nothing. I get Hindi tweets in Roman. I get poems in Spanish. I even get Deepak Chopra's homilies in 140 characters that others spend hundreds of bucks to buy in big, fat hardbacks. I chat with friends I have no time to meet. And, most important, people from all over the world send me stuff that's keep me informed. Reclusive as I choose to be, I still make friends out there and yes, I learn more from twitter than I have learnt from anywhere else.
All that restricts you on twitter is time zones. You can't easily make friends with someone who sleeps when you're awake or is awake when you're fast asleep. You can attempt a chat but that's not much fun if it's not live. What makes twitter fascinating is that you have can a live dialogue with someone you don't know, have never met, can never imagine access to. You can even intervene in an ongoing dialogue and make it a trialogue or quadrologue as long as others don't mind. If they do, just get off and start your own chat. That's what twitter's for. Not just to sound off, as many celebrities do, and walk away-- but to stay and chat. What's a humbling experience is that many who chat with you don't even know who you are. They are there because the conversation attracts them. So they come with no awe, no baggage.
Tharoor was felled by a tweet. So was Lalit Modi who targeted him. Both knew the power of the tweet but neither knew when to shut up. To start a war on twitter is dangerous, extremely dangerous, however large your following may be, because the enemy is unseen, unknown. Every newspaper, every channel, every magazine have their snoops out there. So does every secret Government agency by now. Many conversations are tracked in the hope they could yield clues to something more. If phones can be tapped, sidestepping the law, tracking a person on twitter is the easiest thing in the world. It's not even illegal. Anonymity provides the perfect cover.
If you think I'm paranoid try and make a comment on twitter that sounds even remotely anti Hindu and you will see how quick the Internet Hindus are. They will be on your case instantly. Say something against Narendra Modi and his followers will swing into action rightaway. Tharoor's followers stood by him like the Rock of Gibraltar during his difficult days. So did Lalit Modi's. But it's not easy. Someone, anyone who dislikes you can get his pack of wolves together and attack you. It requires nerves of steel to face them, fight them, win. That's where your followers may be of help. But usually they are an inert lot. So it's best if you wish to be on twitter, to bring in or make friends who will stay with you and not just come to hear your silly monologues.
I have done a year on twitter. Perhaps I'm not as much on it as I once was but I seriously think it's the place to be. Take some time off when you are busy or feel twitter fatigue. You will be charmed to find your friends still there, ready to welcome you back. It's not just a community. It's like a nation on its own where people from all over come to share ideas, dreams, moments, love, friendship, poetry and, as in the real world, argue over issues, ideas, beliefs. But here everyone's equal. No one expects or demands special status. No one gets it. There's no Taliban, no Pramod Muthalik. No Mulayam Singh either, to ask for a ban on computers and English. No MNS to demand you tweet only in Marathi. At the most you may find a bot that offers you sex and then gives you a virus instead.
source: times of india