Twitterific

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Watching NDTV’s We the Tweeple was fun if not for anything else but because one got to see a few familiar faces, people I have met in real life (@samitbasu, [His latest book, from what I have heard and based on the sample chapter provided, is a must-read] and @nilanjanaroy)  and also because one got to hear India’s most famous anchor, someone known to never take herself seriously, concluding the segment by saying that the lesson of Twitter was not to take ourselves seriously. I felt this was also as good a time as any to do a post on Twitter, one that I have been meaning to do for a while.

The question I have been asked the second most number of times during my book tour  (the first one being of course “Do you give ipods for the first comment?) was why I do not follow anyone on Twitter.

When I joined twitter, I felt there were two options open to me with regards to my follow policy.

To be truly equitable, and to make the social interaction be based on “friendship” rather than the  rather weird-sounding follower-followee (I am the only Prophet type) relationship, I figured I should follow back everyone who follows me. That however would simply flood my time-line leading me not be able to read most of what was coming on the stream.

The other option would be to do what most people do—–follow a selective few.

Given how “personally” people take the whole concept of “following” [much more than say subscribing or not subscribing to someone’s blog feed], I figured that this selection would essentially make a very public distinction between two kinds of people—-those whose opinions I think I want to hear and those whose I do not want to (even though they want to hear mine). This I felt would be kind of impolite.

And so I decided to follow no one.

Unfortunately most people take that a show of arrogance and I have been told multiple times that the reason why many people don’t like me (one of course being because I am not “politically sound” i.e. “left liberal” ) is precisely because I do not follow anyone.( I still read people’s tweets but not through the act of “following”.)

Many months later, I was still struggling to handle this since visiting people’s twitter pages (which is what I do) is not an optimal solution. The reason I struggle is because  the Indian Twitter-o-sphere confuses me, being a eco-pyramid of Amazonian complexity.

At the top there are the Olympian Gods—the Zeuses and the Heras. These consist of the uber holy cows —-political, sporting and cinematic mega-idols who use the medium to i) inform us about their latest release and how everyone on the sets of movie XYZ was like family and how @Mega-idol1 played a prank on @Mega-idol2 on the sets of said movie ii) tell us of their harrowing experience of being stuck in a toilet and tweeting their way out of it and iii) provide us intellectual nourishment of the kind “Muaah my darlings. Off to Cannes.” and “Back from Cannes. Too much work. Need a holiday.”

They can easily be recognized by the fact that they only follow other Olympian Gods. The only exceptions to that rule are international mega-mega Yoda celebrities like Dalai Lama and OBama [because they are cool],  and literary giants like Paulo Coelho [because they are, ahem, intellectual]. The only other type they follow and converse with are the Grand Poobah Journalists (those who say things like “Is there space for space in today’s India?” and conduct analysis of the type “Germany defeated England because they are more multi-cultural ) and movie-reviewers (“This flick is for the masses and the classes). Why? Perhaps because even Gods need to keep their messengers in good humor.

Just below them, are the Angels Descended from Heaven. These are the lesser celebrities, who despite their extremely busy schedules (a fact that frequently tell us ), do want to keep in touch with their fans. Their tweets run the gamut from self-promotion (I will be on so-and-so show at 8 pm on Colors), to pithy intellectualisms (“Be the change” and “Politicians are our problem”) and cause-espousal (the fashionable ones only—like LGBT, PETA etc).  They have conversations (as opposed to oracular pronouncements of the Olympian Gods) with those-with-some-influence either in the twitter world or in the newspaper one.  They, however, only follow Olympian Gods, Grand Poobah-Journalists and even Little Poobah-Journalists and also other Angels.

Below them is the Noah’ s Ark of life, the unwashed masses—– celebrity junkies (those who keep on sending messages to Olympian Gods like devotees sending prayers), social media gurus (I have not the foggiest idea of what they do), echo chambers of friends/media people who have met through tweetups and who seem eager for more, politically conscious twits (those who send tweets to  Grand Poobah Journalists applauding their pearly words of wisdom), Internet Hindus (they are the ones who use Sonia Gandhi’s maiden name and Arundhati Roy’s middle name when they refer to them), Internet Liberals (we know the type) and trolls (who favor direct abuse as a means of getting attention, taking advantage of the fact that blocking someone is a toothless gesture in Twitter ) and assorted other lifeforms.

Now my confusion was simply— whom to follow among all these. I am of course dreadfully interested in Priyanka Chopra’s broken toe-nail but for that I do not need to follow the Olympians—I merely read the newspapers, who have developed the fine art of twernalism (a neologism I claim to have coined) which entails taking a celebrity’s tweets and making it into a news report. That leaves me the truly mindboggling segment—-the ones at the bottom of the pyramid.

But after a year on Twitter, now I believe I have resolved the confusion. I am now going to follow. And the people who I am going to follow will be 1) those who make the medium of Twitter  a form of expression, producing compelling content in one hundred forty characters (people like @rameshsrivats) 2) those who post intelligent links that I generally find interesting. The number will be small and it will have nothing to do with personal friendships (people who want to be friends are requested to add me on Facebook).

Thank you for letting me make this clarification (hopefully now I wont have to do any further explanations).

And now let us enjoy the offside goals.

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53 thoughts on “Twitterific

  1. You should have made clear as to what exactly do you consider as “interesting links”, that way I’ll try to send you some in hope of you “staalking” moi someday…or is that called following? Stalking however sounds cool…

    First…also…

  2. Seriously,What You have detailed is very very true..There are certain class of celebrity who even post their time to time snaps and even that of the views from room.As If they have all the time in the world but then there are certain people who really tweet to express not just to declare their on-moment activity..Hence its all upto us to demarcate between the worthless ones and useful ones.
    As far as your explanation(clarification) as to why you donot follow anybody on Twitter is Accepted :)
    Btw, This post is an excellent perspective on Twitter!

  3. Did you really need a blog post to announce to the world that you’ll start following people on Twitter? Your blog makes a good read, but really, most of your tweets are just ToI links, definitely not the compelling content that you wish to follow.

  4. Jay Talwar,

    I wonder where should I write about things I want to say if not on my own blog? You got any suggestion? And where did I say I create the kind of compelling content I want to follow? By the way a lot of my tweets were made during IPL during KKR matches where there was not a single link in what I said.

  5. I have no followers and I follow a lot of people. Well, I am a commoner anyway and happy to be a folower of sensible people.
    I really feel sorry for the “stars” who have to say shabba khair, muah and and spout copycated lines from philosphy textsbooks..or those who have to wage follower number twars ( like SRK and Big B’s unsaid competition).
    People fit to be followed on twitter are those who are witty enough to use 140 chars to make others laugh or think, and of course those who share fresh information.
    The rest are just wannabes. Let them be.

  6. Hello GB,

    Nice write-up on the Indian Twitter eco-system (tweeco-system?).

    If you’re planning to follow people who has given saying things in 140 characters a new voice, I would suggest one name: @natashabadhwar (in case you’re not already aware of her tweets). She writes poetry in 140 characters!

    Just my 0.50 cents… :)

  7. My personal favourites for some really great content:

    Writers: @amitvarma @nilanjanaroy @sidin @samitbasu @arjunbasu

    Sharp wit, humor & wordplay: @rameshsrivats, @manuscrypts  @gau3 @cgawker @neo_indian @krishashok @bigfatphoenix @sahilriz @flyyoufools @comicproject and most mallus

    Political insight: @acorn @pragmatic_d @filter_c @retributions @varnam_blog @swaraj_india

    Other quality content: @pritishnandy @priyaramani @atulchitnis @madversity @gauravsabnis @sadoldbong @sachinkalbag @sumants @nehavish @lekhni

    Random must-have celebrities: @mashable @gulpanag @jhunjhunwala @sagarika_ghose @shashitharoor @rajdeepsardesai @kamlabhatt @netra @surekhapillai @twilightfairy @ebertchicago @sachin_rt @bdutt

    Tech: @labnol @

    Tip: If you can’t tell from the profile, check out the “Favorites” on the side, that has their best tweets, or lists of your favorite tweeters.

    Hope this helps…enjoy ye twitter experience!

  8. Sharp wit, humor & wordplay: @rameshsrivats, @manuscrypts @gau3 @cgawker @neo_indian @krishashok @bigfatphoenix @sahilriz @flyyoufools @comicproject and most mallus

    Most Mallus? Haha !!! Senthil, can I follow you? Do tell me your twitter id. You seem to be the funniest of them all. What a list of morons you have provided.

  9. Just to clarify. The list I quoted is nice. There are other names on Senthil’s list which are the morons.

  10. I am surprised how people here have overlooked ‘The Good of The Twitter World’, Chetan “Look at me I am so Intellectual’ Bhagat.

    His latest tweet- ‘Slovakia with a population equivalent to that of Bangalore, beats Italy in Soccer, why can’t India make it to World Cup’. Some one please tell him that large population does not equal to sporting excellence.

  11. Awesome read…I personally think that every line you write is laced with sarcasm and humor of the highest order…

  12. My suggestions –

    @majorbuttretd for best of pakistani world.

    @fakingnews for best in news.

    @bhogleharsha for general sporting insights.

    @AutomaticEarth for financial happenings around the world. Mostly doom & gloom though.

    @prempanicker One of my fav sports writers.

  13. Do you really believe people care about whom you follow or don’t follow on Twitter? that you need to justify to the world that you are following or not following somebody? don’t take your popularity so seriously…that is a problem with a lot of writers…they become too self obsessed…parts of your book suffered from it as well

  14. Ruchik, Someonestupid,

    I guess if noone cared who I followed I wouldnt be asked the question “Why dont you follow anyone?” repeatedly, who I follow and who I dont being ideally a personal question.

  15. those saying GB is being pompous or egotistical… just lay off. This is his blog. He writes about what he feels. He was asked about not following anyone repeatedly. He is responding to that. i see nothing wrong with that. Given GB’s long record of providing such good quality humour, let’s take a more charitable view. Don’t be in a hurry to find fault.

  16. :) I usually follow people who are witty. GB, fakingnews, amit varma, ramesh srivats and the like. along with them i also follow sardesai, bdutt, gosh, roy!! and few wannabe journos just to know how their stupid minds work. I have un-followed few people who try hard to tweet funny by using filthy language and people who crib endlessly ( some twilightfairy). Twitter is a great medium for social networking.

    And there is nothing wrong in what celebrities tweet (i do not follow them). we can’t expect everyone to tweet about socio economic problems. can we? i have friends who never follow news, but watch movies, read gossips. yet they are more happy than me.

    do not take twitter seriously. choose what’s good for you.

  17. You are just like someone who has got popular enough to enjoy it.
    You can write about your shitting experience and people would be there
    to justify it and defend you.I guess it all falls under “Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind”.
    The only thing being that we(ok majority of us) are here for something that would be either important enough to be given a deep thought or witty enough to be laughed about.

    Please do justice to yourslef.

    p.s. I am yet looking forward to your next post :-D

  18. Your insights are quite remarkable. The popular gods of the twitter-world are using it for publicity.

    The comments space has few people with meaningful replies, many fans, and equally pissed off “trolls.” After reading quite a few of them, the manifesto reads – We are limited by our thoughts.

  19. Seriously, what’s the big deal about GB clarifying his views on Twitter? (Must admit, I thought the zero follower thing was a bit cocky myself).

    Isn’t RTDM basically a blog about his views on everything?

  20. Nice post, GB.

    I thought you’d be writing a “sad” post to honor your fond memories of the deceased K-sutra girl : “Goodbye Viveka Babajee… (RIP)… We will never forget those moments…” – in a way only you can articulate.

    If DesiBABA got an elegy, don’t you think BABAjee deserves to get one too?

    I’m sure many of your readers, esp. the male ones, will support me on this. ;)

  21. “I guess if noone cared who I followed I wouldnt be asked the question “Why dont you follow anyone?” repeatedly, who I follow and who I dont being ideally a personal question.”

    @gb, my advice would be to stop taking such fawning fans seriously rather than dignifying their meaningless question by dedicating an entire post to address it. I have seen this “taking the fans seriously” aspect affect your writing too at times. And you could have simply followed some of the better tweeters (like rameshsrivats etc) without this explanatory post. I think most people would have understood your criteria without being offended by it. And if someone did take offense, well, no need to indulge them with an explanation. Just my two cents.

  22. Arnab, even if some guys did ask you why do you not follow others? but should you have made the justification the substance of the post on twitter; When I saw the title I was expecting a sort of different post from you; like how twitter is changing media, will it replace newspapers, how it has become the biggest hub of crowd sourced content, I was expecting your take on various sub groups on twitter; Noah’s Ark as you call them; the hindus sub group, the PR gang sub group, may be a bit on the manufactured controversies a little more the so called social media consultants, the way people make fun of dumb journos who think they are too smart like Sagarika and Priya Ramani; there was so much material and fodder ; and you come up with a post on why you follow X and don’t follow Y….Heck may be I should start a blog…

  23. I just follow people who i think are interesting….common people, no celbs, except you GB.
    People who follow me are normally bots… But then…Who cares anyway? :D

  24. I think everyone of us is sane enough to agree that a person is free to express his/her opinions in his/her own blog space. Whether others think it to be useful & mention worthy or not is another matter. If you don’t like it, that doesn’t entitle you to abuse the author in any way. Particularly terms like “Himalayan Ego” etc can’t be part of any civil discussion forum…

  25. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=troll

    5. Troll
    One of many unsung internet heroes who are almost entirely misunderstood. Contrary to popular belief, many trolls are actually quite intelligent. Their habitual attacks on forums is usually a result of their awareness of the pretentiousness and excessive self-importance of many forum enthusiasts.

    get that f***ing great bong? dont insult internet hindus and trolls you sickular bangali commie missionary. bangal is a beggar state. screw all bangalis…mera bharat mahan

  26. I follow most of the Olympian Gods you have mentioned here for the sake of following.But the tweets which I seriously follow are those of cricket experts like prempanicker and bhogleharsha.Most of the cricketers are also there in my following list.

  27. As a regular reader who likes your writing style, for the first time i enjoyed the comments more than the post. Intellectualism is a virus it seems. BTW a post of only these comments of truly ON !

  28. And you forgot those that are six-feet under in the (ugh!) tworld. Folks like me that only have brazilian bots following them. Maybe one day there’ll be enough of them for me to compete with ashton kutcher.

  29. Arnab_da , as usual you are very able and very ruthless when you want to make a point. “assorted life forms” is that big round cherry on the dessert.

  30. Re:- “they are the ones who use Sonia Gandhi’s maiden name and Arundhati Roy’s middle name when they refer to them”

    @GB,

    Suzanna happens to be Arundhati Roy’s first name, not middle name.

    Here are four reasons why using Sonia Gandhi’s maiden name is not the main issue. The issue is whether Indians know the real story of the person who controls India.

    “Do You Know Your Sonia?” by Dr.Subramanian Swamy

    “Know your Sonia – Part 2” by the late Arvind Ghosh

    “Unmasking Sonia Gandhi” by S. Gurumurthy

    “Where was Sonia when India was at war? And after Mrs Gandhi lost in 1977?” By Kanchan Gupta

  31. Torino,

    Akismet killed it because of too many links. And for someone peddling so much truth, do try to comment under a single moniker instead of the many you use. Being so concerned about the truth, thats the least you can do. So many monikers….all one IP address….

  32. Thanks for permitting my comment. My comment wasn’t meant to sound the way it did. Nor was it directed against you.

    I felt the 4 article links were too explosive, figuratively speaking. So, I wanted my last line to read: “Too many links or too much truth for the Indian peepul to digest?”. But thanks to Murphy’s Freaking Laws, I accidentally left out these four key words “for the Indian peepul” while cutting/rearranging the text before pressing the Submit button.

    As far as using various monikers/names go, cheeky moi figured if Edvige Antonia Albina Maino can get away with it so successfully, then why not moi?

    Speaking of IP addresses, what do you think of this one?

  33. Nicely done.

    I’m 12 weeks old on Twitter. I follow people who provide the best content most frequently covering various topics of my interest but mostly related to news and politics in India. I don’t automatically follow back. I don’t mix up real life with my online presence. I do engage in conversations, especially debates over politics, but I don’t treat Twitter like a chat room, like most of the Indian twitterrati.

    I just watched the NDTV show. I find myself most in agreement with the views of Samit Basu, Nilanjana Roy and Rahul Roshan.

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