Friday, January 20, 2012

Of Twitter and Paper Kingdoms

My profile on Twitter exists since January 2009, first few hundreds to be on Twitter in India. But I honestly cannot tell you, how many times, I have joined and rejoined twitter.

I have many problems with the channel and its ardent fans, but the biggest being, that it makes you feel, its more than what it is. It is, just a social networking site. No, do not take an offense, yet.

Twitter's social norms are suffocating, much like the real world. It's filthy the kind of obsession people get for it. But more filthy, is the power trip. Twitter society has mass followers, say aam junta and then there are 'twitteratis' people with more than 3000 followers, round about. And in such scenarios, you will see aamjunta in their non-fruition repeated attempts to interact with these mega twitterers. Its appalling then, when you see these people with so many followers, shun the others, disrespect, make fun of, but mostly just ignore them. Reminds you of anything?

Twitter is a virtual world, much like Second Life. Virtual worlds are interesting social phenomenons for many. Small fry I am, but it interests me. Many people state different reasons for being on Twitter, news, updates, networking, and these are great uses. But it becomes different and skewed when people are on twitter for other needs. Needs such as belonging, of self-esteem, of recognition, and sometimes, even superiority. To understand it right, think of the two topmost slabs of Maslow's Hierarchy theory of needs, Self Actualization and Esteem. However this may sound to you, you might be at the edge of these for all you know. That's because all this is away from your real life. Nothing you say or do there, can affect you in your real life, unless you're a bollywood celebrity or a politician.

Twitter and similar channels give you an opportunity to be surrounded by people, and yet not be civil to them. Like a, "Who's watching?" "What can you do?". I'm not saying that we as people need to need to to chaperoned at all times, but wont you agree that when all of us are not, some intriguing things happen. Like the unannounced (or are they?!) kings and queens on Twitter? Are you too, mistaking followers for fans? Appreciation and interaction for paparazzi? Its sad mostly that these really young people are being made to believe in this farce. For when they behave like this and nothing really happens after that, what it is essentially doing is validating this behavior. Conditioning one to believe that if such psychopathic thoughts (for example) fetch me only more popularity with these 4500 people, well, this is uniquely me and I will continue this, no wait, I'll up the ante tomorrow. You can understand, how this can go very wrong. Twitter gives way to your self-harming sometimes, but most certain self-deluded narcissism. Being more than who you really are.

This is how you are when you feel you are a twitter celebrity. There is more from where this is coming. What happens to people who follow you/notice you when you act like a celebrity. When you feel it is a ridiculously huge achievement that you have so many followers and that factor, in some mysterious way make your viewpoint more right (or left, if you have more radical political views). In highly competitive people it starts a very serious war for followers. Imagine holding a grudge for someone you dont know, will never meet, for a metric which means nothing in your world and will not get you that promotion or the degree you work towards. But it is there, staring you in the face. For many others, their world views are constantly being shaped by these twitterati. And unfortunately, sex and scandal still rule and notions of a dejected minority clustered on one of the dozen social networking channels that exist, is being taken for a mass reality by an assumed total of twelve thousand for each influencer that exists.

An article I read states it best when it says, "Twitter is a like a human art installation!" . Scary isnt it? Well, there is much more to learn here than meets the eye, I reckon. Will write more as I learn. For now, thanks for reading.