It is fashionable, and all the folks I knew had it. So I decided I too should have a Twitter account.
I picked up a large number of followers within a day. Most of them folks who are a phone call away, but never bother to call. Very politely, I decided to follow them as well.
And then silence, or a few inane messages. One of the folks I was following twittered that he was sad that Michael Jackson was dead. Another wrote that he was delighted with his new car, another twitted about his new house. Then again silence.
Have people forgotten how to converse, and seek recourse in the crypto-messages they can post on Twitter or social networking sites, from the safety of their computers or mobile phones ?
Does Internet communications provide a comfort zone that normal conversation does not ? Is it that you can release online just that little and self-serving information that you care to have others know about yourself, while all your trials, joys and limitations stay your own and private ?
Has counting the number of followers and followed become a substitute measure of social success ?
Curiously, my usual talkativeness had disappeared on Twitter. I didn’t want to broadcast my real thoughts, information on all my real activities, however banal, to the world at large. Anyways my thoughts can’t be confined to a few words or characters allowed on Twitter.
So I was silent.
The people I followed too were generally silent. There were no wise sayings, intense communications of needs and feeelings of joy, sorrow, and betrayal. Nobody twitted that he had a terrible day at work, got fired by his boss, or his girlfriend ditched him. Only silence.
Some guys twittered quite candidly that they didn’t know what to do once they were on Twitter.
Other folks followed the news channels, and the press releases agencies on Twitter. It turns out it works well as an RSS reader.
Twitter to be sure helped people communicate when in time of crisis, and helped take democracy online when regimes crushed popular movements as in Iran.
Is it that we talk freely online only for a functional purpose as in a crisis ? Is it that for the rest of the time we prefer the telephone, or the corner tea shop for a meeting with friends and a belly-full of conversation and laughter ?
Or is it silence all around, as when people have forgotten how to communicate; when most interactions are an act, a pose, an exhibition, and what we expose is an elaborate persona ?
I am still looking for an answer and to some decent Twits to and fro.