Why did I join Twitter? That’s an easy one. You see, those were the days when I was reluctant to use the common noun “blogger” to describe the pronoun “me” as I had succumbed to blogging anew. I would write, experiment, stumble, sulk, write, post and sulk again at the low traffic to my blog. I was obviously a late comer. The Southeast and North Western Monsoon drift had only exits, no easy entry into the haloed portals of blog-dom anymore. I was destined to watch from the outside. The writing was clear on the wall, ‘you can be a blogger but the crowns have already been taken, so fame cannot be yours’. Nevertheless I sallied on. And one such expedition into the unknown depths of the net by this idle blogger revealed a new world called Twitter, a 140 – character micro-blogging site – characterized by “a short burst of inconsequential information,” similar to “chirps from birds.”
And around the same time an invitation arrived from a friend to “follow” him and “tweet” on Twitter.
A first look at Twitter reminded me of a murder of crows, sitting on the overhead wires crisscrossing a twilight sky. The cawing would continue, sometimes in a chorus and sometimes in sudden spurts with a few crows taking turns in “cawing” their opinion.
And on 13th of January, 2009 my first tweet read:
“Well, one always starts somewhere. So here I am. I will follow and be followed. And learn the ropes along the way”.
Why? Because Twitter was novel. It had the mystery of anonymity; the 140 character long, short “tweets” in which you had to express yourself; the proximity to celebrities (they replied, in person I was told!); and my chance to be almost famous if I did get a couple of replies from them – I couldn’t deny the thrill. At the time it seemed a lot less to pay attention to, just write “what’s on your mind” and you are done. So it was decided, now more than ever before and this more than anything, I wanted to be a part of “Twistory” in the making. I wanted to arrive before the know-it-alls arrived and took over Twitter.
*Wait, I’ll be right back…*
I can’t claim that I was among the first, not at all. My friend had close to 1500 followers already. He had been “on Twitter since 2007”, he said. The odd fairies and nymphs had started to tweet from their higher perches and were already being followed by tweeple in droves. The bloggers had made the micro-blogging site their second home and had already formed their “we-are-eminent-bloggers-and–Twitter-belongs-to-us” nexus. But Twitter was relatively new among my friends, so I gingerly stepped into the first alley leading into the labyrinths of Twitter. Little did I know that I was walking in to never walk out again.
*No new followers, one retweet, no @replies… okay, I’m back*
So, where was I? Oh, yes, so I was learning the ropes on Twitter, one tweet a day. Every day was a new lesson. Follow, Unfollow, Block, @reply, add to favourites – were becoming part and parcel of my life on Twitter. For a while I was happy, Twitter actually helped me kick my “excessive-social-networking” addiction. I was effectively staying away from other networks.
*Finally a new follower! Oh, no, a bot, …. die bot, I block you. Bad!*
Early days were dull. I would follow people and most wouldn’t care to follow me back, especially the “pseudo-twitterati” folks, who, even in those days commanded a four figure follower count. I would try to talk to them and they wouldn’t reply back. So I joined the Twitter Quitters, ‘and for good’ I told myself. Sure that this was the end of the road for me. I was lonely, nobody tweeted back, I didn’t have too many followers, what would I have done otherwise? (In retrospect, how I wish it would have remained thus!) But sometime in early March, out of sheer curiosity I signed in, yet again. And was I in for a surprise, I actually had a large number of followers, 30 to be precise! And some of the people I had started to follow were following me back!
Life was “happening” at Twitter and I saw no reason good enough to stay away anymore. That was the right plunge at the right time. (And now I think I should have stood upon that shore a little longer, sigh!)
*Good heavens! Nobody cares about my tweets anymore. Everyone seems to be busy trending silly topics while the celebs scratch itchy spots on each other’s back!!! No replies, no retweets, 2 followers! Hmph!*
And soon even the duck seemed to take to water the way I to Twitter. My ticket to fame was almost in the delivered slot. I was hobnobbing with the real Twitterati. Now there was no stopping me. My ever-increasing followers list had swollen from 30 to 330. I was almost famous!
*I’m back! I haven’t missed out on much today, four tweeple are competing at trending their respective hash-tagged “topics” – including that writer-by-popular-choice and the So-Bo queen of melodrama, a mad-hatter editor and a crazy I-tweet-30-tweets-per-hour twit… And I’m not a trending topic person*
Today my followers have crossed the three figure mark quite a few times over. I’m almost in the “famous tweeple” zone now.
A typical morning starts with my “Good morning!” tweet at around 7:30 a.m., yes, that’s when I switch on the computer and throw open my first browser window upon Twitter. Thanks to certain third-party Twitter apps, I don’t have to keep three tabs open on Twitter today! Earlier it did get cumbersome switching between so many tabs. Twitter in the morning is like my newspaper and my radio (all those blip.fm songs!). You see, socially I have always been shy and inept. Forever elders have asked me to “get a life!” and now for the first time, I seem to have suddenly found life on Twitter. I don’t feel the urge to get another social life anymore. I don’t need it! I have it all here.
There are teachers tweeting great philosophies of great thinkers; every leading national daily; wire services, tweeting headlines even before the paper is actually put to bed; book reviews, movie reviews, music reviews; and all the gossip you may (actually!) want. I have friends to banter with and I take part in healthy debates on subjects ranging from politics to porn. There are also times when I get into serious discussions with friends in the West. Those are nights when I make do with a short power nap (yeah! I loved the idea that @pwryogi tweeted that 4 hours of sleep is all the mind requires for refreshing itself).
*Refresh reminds me, that I need to refresh the homepage and see whether anybody replied to my last tweet, be back…*
Sometimes things do get out of hand, I agree. I do feel unfocused. Of course, there have even been hilarious instances that I have dreamt about what to write on Twitter, in other words I have dreamt in tweets. I don’t get to speak to friends quite as often. Work does get piled up. At times, it gets a tad bit boring as well. But I can never complain about Twitter, not me. I love tweeting, you see and anything and everything becomes a tweet, be it my breakfast, the traffic, a joke or even a movie clip, everything, in my opinion, has tweet value. What did you just ask? Whether I’m addicted to Twitter? Of course not! True, I do spend close to 12/14 hours on it each day, from the net as well as from my Blackberry, but that doesn’t make me an addict. I have a job to keep. After all, I don’t earn a salary for nothing! I’m learning my social skills here. What does a person do when one is feeling lonely in a gathering,? Tweet! What would you do if you saw an amazing sunset? Tweet! If someone needs help,? Retweet!
Where else would I have the opportunity to hob-nob with so many people (especially, the noteworthy)? Tell me, what use are friends in real life who flock around you when they need attention or a favour? I have in the past tried to coax a few friends to join Twitter and see what they are missing out on (I actually wanted them to realize that this is my turf. Here I am the Real McCoy!). But then, their loss is my gain.
*Finally the SoBo queen decides to follow me! I’m loving this day! Wait, I need to favourite that tweet!*
My aspirations in life? I want to be followed by the likes of the Tharoors, Sanghvis, Nandys, Dutts and the Bachchans of Twitter. I want my “intelligence” re-tweeted by tweeple. A day will come when the new generation tweeple will find my name to reckon with. Maybe someday I’ll get to win the Shorty Award! And, yes, I need to have my first novel published by the end of this year. That’s it and I’ll be famous!
*So is the interview finally over? That’s it right? I need to get to Twitter now. I have missed a whole hour of tweeting fun. In case you need anything else, just tweet me! GTG! BYE!*