Opinion | Off the Cuff

The not-so-social side of social networking

I think the reason you need followers is that you then know that someone is interested in what you are tweeting

  • By Mahmood Saberi, Senior Reporter
  • Published: 20:00 November 20, 2012
  • Gulf News

I asked my wife to log on to Twitter to get the latest news, but she said she didn’t want to get addicted like me.

She said she gets her latest news from the feeds from the various newspapers and TV stations and didn’t wish to become someone sitting on the sofa with his face into his smartphone all the time.

I didn’t know I was seriously addicted to Twitter till my wife told me she would have to take away my phone from me like she did with my son’s iPod. It was then that I realised that I was reaching out for my phone every free time and scrolling down to see what everybody was saying.

While some people play games on their phones, I, on the other hand, tell people about a bomb blast somewhere and how terrible some leader is. I realised that I was becoming worse than a gossip-mongering bore. It’s been a year since I have been seriously addicted to this mini-blogging social network and found that I need more and more people to follow me. It took me a year or so to get a couple of hundreds of people to follow me and let me tell you that trying to get popular on this network can be very exhausting.

I have followers mostly from the US and India and I am now trying to reach to other nationalities. For some reason, entrepreneurs seem to like me and feel that I am either a public speaker on leadership or own a small business and want to expand.

The people I follow are mostly actors or doctors, mainly because I am movie-mad and because of my field of interest, which is health.

I think the reason you need followers is that you then know that someone is interested in what you are tweeting or it becomes like someone you see sitting on a park bench and muttering to himself. I sometimes feel like that person as I send what I think are interesting news tidbits that I feel people will like. The thrill of this addiction is that when people resend or RT (Re-Tweet) your message across the wires.

Since people are so involved with who is following you or Re-Tweeting that a new software is available to help you keep track. So if someone was following and decided to drop you, you will know instantly and you drop him and her also.

If you don’t know what Twitter is by now, you must have been in a coma or you are just not a techie nerd. It is known as the SMS of the Internet and instantly connects you to celebrities, leaders and many times right into an event as it is happening.

Recently for instance, the tweets started dropping into my phone very late in the night about a fire in Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT). People were sending pictures of a tower on fire and you could instantly connect to anyone on the scene.

You could see tweets from reporters asking the bloggers if they could quote them for their newspaper report.

The tough part about Twitter is that you have to say whatever you want to say in 140 characters. Initially, I found that difficult for a verbose and “mouthy” person like me. It’s like telling a bore to cut the story short and get to the point.

I told my colleague about Twitter and how useful it is for a reporter, but she said she would prefer being on Facebook instead.

I have never been on Facebook, but I believe you get to see the pictures everyone posts on their “wall” and what a wonderful time they had at a holiday and you start to feel that your life is miserable and boring.

Social networking sometimes certainly doesn’t seem so social.

Gulf News
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