Not only the geeks but glitterati too are hooked to the micro- blogging networking site
IT TOOK just 140 characters to change the way our celebrities talk to us. You no longer need Page 3 to know who Mallika Sherawat is flirting with, when Shashi Tharoor gets a haircut, and the kind of music that helps Rahul Gandhi unwind.
All you need is to follow their ‘ tweets’ — 140- character- long updates on what they think of life, the universe and everything.
Congress general secretary Rahul tweets under the name RGamethi, describing himself as Congress MP/ Youth Congress/ AICC Gen Sec. At last count, he had 2,625 followers.
He is behind minister of state for external affairs Shashi Tharoor, who has 3,550 followers. Perhaps because he tweets far more frequently from his ‘ Twitterberry’ as against Rahul’s infrequent forays from the Web.
Tech- savvy Tharoor has smartly leveraged the microblogging service to be seen both as an interesting person and a responsible politician. At a meet organised by Delhi Bloggers’s Bloc, he said: “ Twitter is extremely addictive. I have never had the time to keep a dairy. The next best thing is sending out three tweets a day.” Some of his recent tweets read: “ Managed to visit a tailor for some bandhgalas . When Natwar Singh became a pol, Indira Gandhi told him ‘ a thicker skin would be more useful’!” In the midst of the elections, he let it be known that he is an IPL fan by tweeting: “ Mumbai vs Royals! Got to be one of the most exciting matches I’ve ever watched — am a huge fan of the T20 format.” Things have come a long way since India’s first ‘ tweetup’, or Twitter meet- up, happened in Mumbai on December 29, 2007. Only nine persons turned up, remembers Gaurav Mishra, who is now the 2008- 09 Yahoo! Fellow at Georgetown University, Washington, D. C. “ Most of us who turned up were early adapters of technology. Some of us had more online than offline friends,” he remembers.
Over two years on, it’s super cool to tweet from your mobile phone.
Twitter co- founder Biz Stone is very upbeat about the future of Twitter in India. “ People of India are very sophisticated when it comes to using SMS to stay connected,” he says.
Rajesh Jain, who runs the microblogging service MyToday Mobs in India, points out that the key challenge for Twitter — which is still working on its business model — is to get itself a monetisation plan for India.
But business plan or not, social media enthusiasts are a- twitter with this latest service. Priyanka Sachar, who organises ‘ tweetups’ in the city, said: “ Twitter is here to stay, and now everyone from politicians to actors and actresses is realising this. We live in the age of SMS, so getting your point across in 140 characters works well,” she says.
That’s something former Miss India and actor Gul Panag has understood well. “ I use Twitter as an image tool to stay in touch with fans. I’m also fond of blogging, but I like to blog on serious issues. Which is why Twitter is very useful, for when I don’t have the time, or when I just want to be frivolous, it works as a short blog post.” With 2,674 followers, Panag has established herself as the reigning Bollywood diva on Twitter. She describes herself as an “ actor, animal lover, adrenaline junkie, adventurer” on her Twitter page and tweets about her love for fitness and biking. Panag writes about her love for Enfield, which she learnt to ride at 15.
“ So so looking forward to riding home on empty roads at 2 AM:))))),” she tweets.
There are saucier nuggets from Mallika Sherawat, who tweets from her new base in LA. She is unabashedly promoting her movie Hisssss in which she plays a nagin and she also peppers her posts with plenty of self- praise: “ Gosh! Ram Gopal Verma called me the Marilyn Monroe of the east… blush blush.” And then she tweets that her Hollywood costar Jackie Chan told her, “ Babe, if u were to walk past a graveyard — you’d raise the dead!” In Hollywood, Ashton Kutcher and wife Demi Moore have been the microblogging service’s unofficial brand ambassadors for a while now.
Both have over a million followers.
Elizabeth Taylor hasn’t let her 77 years take away from her new- found love for tweeting, and makes it a point to tweet even while getting hospital check- ups.
US President Barack Obama used Twitter in his campaign.
But he has to be careful. The micro- blogging service can be used to embarrassing effect in politics. A ‘ Twittergate’ scandal broke out in Germany earlier this week, when news of Hörst Köhler’s re- election as German president was published on Twitter 15 minutes before the official result was announced.
The damage was done by an over- zealous Julia Klöckner of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party, who tweeted: “ People, you can watch the football in peace. The vote was a success.” Let’s wait and see if our homegrown celebs write some tweet- nothings — to devastating effect.