Sunday, May 09, 2010

State of the union..

.. it is not. But there are odd thoughts about twitter and facebook.

Amit Varma speaks of Twitter* and Internet Hindus and the alleged Enemy #2** on twitter, and how we shouldn't take people seriously. His point is rather simple, and I quite agree with it. The people who argue passionately on twitter will often not take such extreme positions in the real world. We often argue for the sake of argument, without any objectivity, and sometimes without a clue. We have little to add - voice has indeed entirely become noise.

I recently spotted it again with the Kasab sentencing. Like the incredibly hot SpyMaami said, 90% were talking like right-wing nuts and 70% like Arundhati Roy***. That death sentence led me to have a little flashback to the day it all fell like dominoes on twitter. It was 26/11. That day, we were sitting and chit-chatting like we always do. We discussed failwail, jazz and punkrockers (with flowers in their hair). And then the attacks happened. Twitter came handy, people managed to organize help and resources. It was quite brilliant, the way it all worked, the way it really put power and control in the hands of the common person. Everyone became very involved and suddenly, very serious. For a few days, anyone who would dare to say "Oatmeal for brekkie" was reprimanded. "Be serious, this is no time for frivolity", they said, "a country is in crisis". #Mumbai was trending for days. The aftermath was that the publicity in MSM brought many more curious people to twitter. Soon the mood had almost entirely changed - it became about issues, about making a point, shouting a message out. Some people thought that twitter would give them an opportunity to see their name in print. The lack of care was gone, and twitter, for me, came of age.

Now the place is all herd, all mob, especially when it comes to re-tweets and trending topics. It looks odd when people start talking about topics other than the ones which are already under discussion. People celebrate the arrival of a celebrity on twitter. People re-tweet the celebrity till the comment has lost its context. Often a discussion on a serious issue loses its merit because the objectivity is long lost, and people are relentlessly hashtagging.

Not that all is lost, not just yet. I've met and still meet wonderful people there, who have become some of my close(st) friends. There is still a lot of wit and wisdom -- in fact, way too much of it. I still have a lot of fun, but when there is noise, I tend to run away. Still, somehow, I don't turn and run, I don't quit.

Elsewhere, I find this piece about why one can't quit facebook. The list-maker says:
Sure, Facebook has privacy issues, but you don't care about privacy anymore. Remember when you wouldn't use your real name on the Internet?

I absolutely hate it when they equate lack-of-anonymity with lack-of-privacy. People don't mind using their real names on the Internet only because there are gazillion people out there, and to some people there seems to be little point in hiding a under a name.

Privacy is different. It's more about who you really want to share whatever you want to share with. That's why I have the Internet, so it can make sharing easier, so to me, it's quite strange when people say, "Don't put it on the Internet then!" Don't get it? Picture this - I have a, errm, picture I want to share with my friends. Instead of spamming their inboxes, I want to put it somewhere, so they can see it. I don't want to share the picture with my colleagues. Both these sets of people know my real name. In fact, I don't want these people to ever know my moniker, lest they google me out. See the difference?

*Quite a few sentences are more than 140 chars. Such a noob (sic). :) See, some of us can now naturally write sentence shorter than 140. I'm quite sure the first bit about twitter above is all under 140.
**Who's the enemy #1 that everyone likes to trip on, is anybody's guess.
*** According to me, 35% belong to the third kind - the people on twitter who claim that people on twitter don't know anything.


Kartik said...

"Harmony among chaos" is how i like to describe the Internet, and twitter has become more chaotic then ever.Seems like a small world stored inside a server!But like Amit Varma said, "you will hang around with your own kind" and hopefully the noise will drain out.

manuscrypts said...

public and publics, is how Jeff Jarvis differentiated it..Facebook doesn't want to unfortunately..
most of everything on Twitter is so packaged now, that it is literally a 'status' message :|

Prasoon said...

A very well written piece - seems like that shared article helped :)

Privacy and anonymity are different but well, they are connected too. With anonymity, one doesn't care too much about privacy and without anonymity, these issues with "selective" privacy come wherein you wish to selectively share and selectively make things private..
SpyMaami that ways enjoys that freedom - she could well be someone I know from office but then, thats good as anybody's guess. Now if she had a "name" attached and not an alias with her profile, I could have narrowed down the names to faces and maybe then, as a boss of her company asked her to stop dissing policies/company in public.
[Just an example.. or maybe I don't quite get the point you wrote?]

Mo said...

@Kartik - Yeah. But then if there were too many rules, then it would prevent it from evolving the way it is. Despite hanging around with own kind, sometimes the ambient noises which take over, occasionally.

@Manuscrypts -Sigh.

@Prasoon - Ah thanks for sharing.

Yes and no. Anonymity allows privacy only when you restrict sharing what you share. There are some personal bloggers, like mombloggers, who share every damn picture of their children, their homes, their plants, their everything. They're anonymous, yes, but are they private people? Not knowing their names hasn't prevented you from knowing too much about them.

And on the other hand you have other bloggers like manuscrypts, whose real name is known. But you perhaps can't find much of his personal details on the Internet. Because he's private like that.

Anonymous said...

Nothing to add to the major points in this piece, my world is a little different from yours, I suppose. But as for quitting any medium, as a serial quitter, I would like to mention that it depends on the kind of person one is, rather than any benefits or attributes or inherent traits of the object / medium one is quitting.

Are you the kind that gives off old clothes to the bai or the watchman, throws away old trinkets and deletes old emails and old computer games from the comp? Or are you not?

I believe that if you are not, you might not be able to quit any of the recent fads and fancies (But then again, is facebook just one of those fads and fancies? I am undecided, I have never put in too much thought on that). I was a reasonably regular blogger a long long time ago. And I remember having made friends and acquaintances. Quitting the blog, however, was not difficult.

I throw away old stuff. Old emails. Old blog addresses, even old email addresses. My orkut account. The Age of empires CD. I guess it's just me, not the medium. There were some fine emails there I suppose... AOE was a fine, fine game.

The only blog that I have, has a life of its own. I am just the conduit. I have a facebook account, and I quite like facebook currently. I am not sure whether I will be able to quit when it comes to that. But if I do, that would be because of the way I am, not because of the medium.

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