By Lakshmi Kant Gupta
Chief Marketing Officer, LG Electronics India
Just about everybody I know has got on to social media for a lark. So it was for me. It started with a friend exclaiming, “Man, this Facebook is a hoot!” And I thought, “What does he know that I don’t?”
And so began the saga of initiation, bewilderment, embracing, evangelizing, irreverent fun and finally total addiction. And, as if Facebook wasn’t enough, I discovered Twitter soon after, and life was never the same. Take it from me, if you’re not on Twitter, you’re missing the craziest bunch of pseudo-intellectuals, commentators and comedians in the world! You start following a hundred Tweeps, and suddenly, it’s a whirlwind of opinions, wit, satire, knowledge and general mayhem. You fancy a crackpot doctor who goes by a pseudonym so that his patients don’t recognize him? He’s there spouting wisdom on relationships, sex and politics. You want to know what goes on in the mind of a housewife while she’s tending to her infant? There she is, with her words of wisdom about life, hubby and her mohalla. These and many more. And of course there’s your full house of celebs and wannabe-celebs, celebrating, posturing and in general increasing their tribe.
Don’t mistake it, the addiction is very real. The wife looks at me as if I’ve gone bonkers, tweeting from anywhere I go – funny backof- the-truck lines, strange headlines, and even marketing knowledge from day-to-day run-ins of yours truly. An assortment of applications and tools like Tweetdeck, Twitter for Android and WhoUnfollowedYou.com adorns my smartphone and laptop, while a constant vigil is kept over how many retweets and mentions my profound utterances are getting. Depressingly enough, the addiction also finds expression in lengthy conversations, 140 characters at a time, with people I never met, nor am I likely to meet in future.
Of course, there’s the occasional bright spark that keeps you hooked and interested. A particularly Twitter-active celeb got into conversation with me (I initiated it), and it so turned out that she knew someone I knew in the agency circle. “Oh! You’re that LK Gupta? I’ve seen your Facebook posts!” “Guilty as charged, ma’am.” “Hey, you’re so funny! Why don’t you post more on Twitter?” “I will, if you agree to retweet.” And before I knew it, a celeb with 300,000 followers was following me on Twitter! Me, a humble 9 to 5 manager, being followed by a celeb! You get the drift.
So, what brings all these fine specimens of our race together and keeps them in a tizzy? One word - narcissism. Never before in the history of mankind has the system colluded to make so many individuals heard and seen beyond their humdrum immediate circle. Suddenly you can say what you like, in a manner of your choosing and broadcast it to the far reaches of Alaska and Timbuktoo. The time for everyone being famous for 15 minutes is Now. The age of I, me and myself. You can have an opinion on everything. In fact, you have to have an opinion of everything. In the process, everyone’s knowledge has grown manifold; people know a lot more now about World Pi Day than they could about dividing 22 by 7 at school. They get to disseminate their valuable thoughts about the latest political scam and about the Indian cricket team’s coach all in the same breath. Where else but Twitter!
And I have, I’m ashamed to say, fallen prey to this very same narcissistic urge. I am more at home on my Twitter timeline than home. Even as I type these 600 words, I keep a sly lookout for tweets and retweets. Wife can remonstrate, kids can scream, friends can roll their eyes, but I must tell the 130 people on my TL what’s going on with me. And if you happen to read this online, don’t forget to tweet the link and mention my handle alongside. I promise to retweet you. What a hoot!