It all started out really well, broadband became available in boon town dial up Pakistan and with its advent we discovered social networking. It began with orkut, which was probably everyoneâ€™s first experience with this kind of a forum. Now bored housewives and the working and active strata of our society all had one thing in common, we became narcissistic. We wanted to tell the world each and every minute detail of our lives, who was marrying who, what happened last night, what should have happened and so on.
Right around this time the mother of all networking sites started out and pretty soon it spread like wildfire, where orkut was too accessible by our society face book was elitist. You had to be invited to someones list; you had to be accepted as a friend before the voyeurism and poking could begin. Everyone knows what happens when you limit access to something in Pakistan right? So everyone got on the bandwagon and found new and uncanny ways to get into Face book. This gave more sections of our society something to do, all damn day. It also became the local grapevine, pickup spot and zaroorate rishta column all rolled into one. However sooner rather than later this became seriously irritating as well and before you skip over to the next article, let me illustrate what this one is about. Itâ€™s an announcement that twitter rather than facebook is the future of social networking, and here is why
There are several reasons the geeks and the tech darlings as well as most parts of our media have switched their daily dose of digital activism and over all nonsense to twitter instead of face book. Face book has become passÃ©. First of all itâ€™s too much information period. I understand that it appeals to the exhibitionist in all of us but we Pakistaniâ€™s are an emotional sort and thus when given a portal or mike or the spotlight tend to get a little over excited. The result is noise, too much of it in fact coming in a steady stream of pictures of how baby x had a hard time eating last night to every mundane minute of every life categorized in clean detail and tagged with pictures and kitschy remarks like â€œwe love our kids, look how much we love themâ€ cue 26 pictures of a couple hugging their children puhleeze!! Add to that the fact that people have started adding sordid details of their personal lives as well as emoting on Fbook and you have a social portal gone out of control. People in Pakistan are breaking their marriages on face book everyday. Plus how much of a voyeur is hiding in everyone of us anyways? Sooner and later even that fix evaporates and you start ducking as the barrage of info continues.
The main difference between â€œTwitterâ€ and â€œFacebookâ€? Where Facebook over excels, twitter limits, that is to a space of 140 characters, just status updates, live streaming bits of lightning fast info which are tweeted and retweeted the world over within minutes. By re tweeting I
mean echoed because that is one of the options of this networking tool. Not just that, surprisingly enough twitter has millions and millions of users all across the world connected to one another without actually being able to peer into each and every aspect of a â€œfriendsâ€ life. Basically what you share is up to you, true thatâ€™s the point of Facebook also but where there are so many options to show every little thing in your life off who will resist? Twitter does away with all the options except that of communication, links or wordplay. Itâ€™s what made those old bulletin boards back in the day so popular remember? Think of twitter as an old B.B.S board on an energy drink, because that’s what it is in its spirit at least. Take my example, I started tweeting some four months ago, right now I have around 825 followers & interact with local and international journalists on a regular basis. In short I get all sorts of ideas for my writeups from this network. Heck I have even managed to find out what the local grocery store is stocking before making my way to it to buy, its that fast and useful. Think about it, a flaming hot cheetos packet can never grace a shelf in Karachi without me knowing about it.
Plus twitter has the added advantage of being a very very good marketing tool, because the info stream is so limited, the bandwidth used is small and low cost by comparison and thus the updating super fast. Itâ€™s got full functionality on cell phones also. When I say marketing I mean target marketing off course, because you can identify what people are talking about by the current trending topics and then market according to the demographic you need. For example #blaggers is the hashtag/topic Pakistani bloggers use, so if you want to advertise a geek toy rather than sending it all over twitter u can send it straight to the hashtag/topic and thus everyone relevant will read it. It also as mentioned before gives a twitter-er(person who uses twitter) the chance to interact with many knowledgeable people and celebrities as well as social media gurus through it. Where face bookâ€™s primary purpose was to find old friends, twitterâ€™s is to make new ones as there are no digital social barriers in-between talking to someone. The most a user can do is block you if you irritate them too much. Just including someoneâ€™s nick in your message means that your tweet/post will appear on their page instantly. For instance I can speak to Oprah , imagine getting through her filters on face book? Yet I could just talk to her, not go through her pictures get it?
Since there is less personal info available from a persons profile on twitter the security risks are hereby lessened as well. Yes I do know you can have people on limited profiles on face book, but that means selection no? That means time and deciding whose cool enough and whose not, twitter takes away the whole process by limiting everyone to just what they want to share. Plus your friendâ€™s dad or uncle is not thinking of making an account on this social media platform yet, in fact most of them havenâ€™t even heard of it as it flits somewhere between instant messaging and email. So whatâ€™s holding you back?? Tweet away!!
As published in the Friday times on 02/10/2009