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Politics to celebrities. Gossip to controversies. Twitter is fast becoming the most preferred social network for Gen-Now. LAVANYA MOHAN tells you why.

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

When Barack Obama announced his win with a tweet before he addressed the press, it was official; Twitter has taken over our lives like never before.

For the uninitiated, Twitter is an online social network where users can put up short messages or “tweets” restricted to 140 characters. Users can “follow” or subscribe to each other’s tweets, as well as interact with one another. It’s as simple as it’s addictive.

Today, Twitter is more than just another website that has been blocked by our office firewalls; it is an incredible resource for news, networking, and (for some of us, at least), entertainment! It is fast becoming the most preferred social network of the young and the restless.

Connecting ground

“Twitter is the only social network I log on to these days” says Abhishek Swaminathan, an engineering student from Chennai who has recently moved to New York to pursue his Masters Degree. Needless to say, his latest tweets essentially talk about how much he misses the city, its atmosphere and its sambar-vadai .

So what is it about this medium that sets it apart from every other social network? May be it’s the fact that there is no great barrier on interaction between two users, unlike other social networks where one has to jump through multiple hoops to get a point across.

“There’s no restriction on who you can follow and there’s no Friend Request hassle. The social etiquette about conversation is much more laidback. I can approach people more easily here,” says Abhishek.

This no-holds-barred approach to networking means that Twitter isn’t about keeping in touch; it’s about creating new connections.

“There are so many diverse and interesting people out here. The world is shrinking every day so I think it helps to know more people!” says Virupa Kantamneni, an architect who uses Twitter primarily as a networking tool. “I generally follow people I have common interests with. The conversations I have with them is fun and, truth be told, I’ve made quite a few friends this way!” she adds.

Of course, conversations on Twitter aren’t just restricted to other users with similar interests. There has been a major influx of celebrities, politicians and newsmakers who now use this platform to air their opinions and interact with other users. This has made Twitter the most credible gossip mill, resulting in quite a few (entertaining) controversies involving celebrity foot-in-mouth episodes.

“Twitter makes them human!” says Varsha Mohan, a Standard XI student. “It’s like Twitter opens up a side to celebrities that you don’t often see in public. I like reading what they have to say about things; it’s so much more interesting.”

Range of topics

One of the network’s most unique selling points is the 140 character limit. “Twitter keeps things short and sweet,” says Vivek Parthasarathy, a final year student at IIT Madras. Initially thought to be a hindrance, it has ensured that everything shared on Twitter doesn’t have any extra fittings or fluff but is precise and to the point.

From philosophy to sports, from religion to literature, from IRCTC ticket booking woes to the U.S. Presidential elections, from bad jokes to even worse jokes, nothing exceeds the 140 mark. Twitter humour deserves a special mention here, because it is constantly evolving and has even become a reason for people to sign up.

“Even if it is not information that you’re looking for, rest assured that the continuous stream of wisecracks will have you constantly entertained!” says Virupa.

Twitter’s capacity for information is the reason why this social network is the perfect definition for “now.” Reactions are immediate, discussions are instant and each opinion is as different as the next.

The variety of information one has access to, as Vivek puts it, is “mind-blowing”. More people are now discovering that Twitter has answers to questions that even Google may not and that this network is the best place to ask anything because it isn’t a search engine that is giving you an answer; instead it’s a community.

The range of answers that one gets, although not always accurate, is quite remarkable, making Twitter one of the most prominent sources for information today, and the best place to do any kind of crowd sourcing.

There is a darker side to things, though. The ease of use that Twitter boasts of is also its curse. While it’s easy to be outspoken and have a strong opinion, it’s even easier to be anonymous while doing the same.

Plenty of users, celebrity and non-celebrity alike, face this issue of what is fondly referred to as “trolling” by anonymous users who insist on not just shoving their opinions on everyone, but also put down other people’s ideas in the most malicious ways.

For keeps

At this point, I’d like to say that, having been a Twitter user for the last three and a half years, it is absolutely impossible to not fall in love with it. It is like carrying a virtual water cooler in your pocket; everyone is always ready for conversation and there’s always something new to read, or to learn. Twitter has become my very own kaleidoscope to the world, and, suffice to say that since I joined, I’ve never run out of things to discover.

Personally, the one prominent reason that I would attribute for Gen-Now flocking to Twitter would be for the sheer sense of fraternity it offers. Nobody is a stranger, and there are new surprises every day. There are endless opportunities to interact and meet people you never would have had a chance to otherwise.

It’s a world where no one is left out, and everyone belongs. So in case you haven’t signed up already, come on in, the twitter’s fine!

Lavanya is full-time CA

and a part-time Twitter celeb.

Celebs on Twitter

@madhankarky (Madhan Karky):

Followers: 42, 238*

This lyricist, writer, teacher and poet is full of only good things to say and shares a lot of interesting news from all over the world and around the city!

@chinmayi (Chinmayi):

Followers: 1,13,279*

This opinionated singer/entrepreneur is one of the most active users from the city on this space.

@arrahman (A.R. Rahman):

Followers: 16,01,124*

The Mozart of Madras, now on Twitter!

@ashwin99ravi

(Ravichandran Ashwin):

Followers: 60,409*

Our very own Chennai Super King has a dynamic presence on twitter and is always up for a post match chat.

@ash_r_dhanush (Aishwarya Dhanush):

Followers: 1,07,849*

Daughter of the Superstar, but now a Director in her own right, she uses Twitter to share snippets from her life.

Twitter-made Celebs

@krishashok:

Followers: 18,967*

Humorist, techie, blogger and general super whiz at all things web 2.0

@ABVan:

Followers: 3,639*

Hilarious commentaries on sports, movies, music and the universe in general. 

@namefieldmt:

Followers: 4,261*

Entertaining tweets and views about everything happening in the world and around the city.

@localteaparty:

Followers: 5,214*

Funny tweets made funnier because of his “local” flavoured English. 

@lavsmohan:

Followers: 11,388*

Bad jokes, blogging and helpful tips on how to waste time effectively. 

*Followers as on November 14.

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