Ignorance! It’s the one word that describes the outpourings of certain writers in the MSM who have absolutely no clue what Social Media (SM) is really all about. Lately, a certain Radia parrot seems to have joined the battle in concocting conspiracies and plots about the SM that can make Don Quixote proud. Vir Sanghvi is desperately trying to get back into TV studios through the bathroom window. HeadlinesToday is trying to help but like RahulG would have said: “Boss, not happening”! We will get to VS but first let’s go through some delightful blasts from the past.
Vikram Chandra of NDTV is more or less conducting an outreach programme trying to reach out to Tweeple from the Right Wing to appear on his shows. NDTV’s group editor Barkha Dutt has long held the SM in contempt. After all, she made no secret about her dislike for bloggers and Facebookers in the past. Sometime back Vikram Chandra lamented the degeneration of TV news. He stopped short of naming those responsible for it, but I did. Then there’s another guy who called me a ‘terrorist’ at an SM event and then asked me to a debate and then disappeared. Then again, remember the rants against SM by the comic duo of Rajdeep and Sagarika? Add Sanjay Pinto, of NDTV again, who mourned the social network with alarming contempt. Some of these people seem to be slowly starting to realise that SM is here to stay and may even dictate the course of discussions in the national MSM. They lived in fear of “power to the people” so far but there is an air of inevitability to uncontrollable events and technology. News reports even suggest SM may impact elections in as many as 160 Lok Sabha seats. Does that explain the sudden interest of the MSM in SM people?
In the post “How to buy friends & influence elections” I had tried to explain why the 100Cr programme of the Congress to influence the SM may not produce the desire results. The party has already accepted not getting very far and there were reports of outsourcing the task to ‘professionals’. After the recent speeches by Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi at various events many MSM writers have been crowing about how the Congress supporters have attained puberty on the SM. There is one such writer who goes beyond that, he imagines there are organised gangs operating on Twitter. That Vir Sanghvi is prejudiced against BJP is not such a big secret, after all he is the one who originally came up with the “mass murderer” tag for Modi. He is also one of Radia’s parrots. It is his ignorance about SM and Twitter that now convinces me the man belongs where he is; in the kitchen and not in the news media. Here’s what he writes (In “This means war: BJP, Congress get nasty on Twitter”):
“It has long been suspected that the preponderance of so-called Internet Hindus on social media is not an entirely spontaneous phenomenon. Thanks to journalistic stories and TV discussions, we now know that the Sangh coordinates strategy with several hundred ‘volunteers’ and tells them what the targets for the day are. This has been admitted to, on television, by the head of the BJP’s Internet wing. We also know, thanks to investigative articles in such magazines as India Today, that the BJP runs control rooms staffed by hundreds of boffins who are directed to create Twitter storms. When the boffins succeed, BJP leaders go on television to announce that as the Sanghi targets are trending on Twitter, the people of India have spoken”.
IH is not a spontaneous phenomenon? Haha! Sanghvi, the ignoramus, first uses a term coined by a CNN reporter to describe a bunch of unconnected people and then calls it a spurious phenomenon. Okay! Then he claims India Today ran an investigation to discover the BJP runs control rooms who direct Twitter storms. I always knew these MSM celebs were hollow and lacked intelligence but VS just about confirms it. I have no connections with the BJP or Congress or any political party as anyone knowing me will tell you. I have not even met any political leader of any standing at all. My limited interactions with politicians have been on Twitter with people like Shashi Tharoor or Smriti Irani who are both on Twitter. So let us educate these media morons on how topics trend on Twitter.
Any trend cannot be dictated by a group of people whether in a control room or in the Ministry of Twitter Affairs. Satire and cheeky tweets spread like wildfire on Twitter. Take a look at this tweet from February 24. If I recall right, it was on a slow Sunday evening that I used the tag #IfMahabharatHappenedNow for a sarcastic tweet about a media diva. Before one knew it had caught the fancy of Tweeple and they started using the tag to describe a Congress-BJP battle where Congress took most of the stick. The hashtag trended on top for nearly 2 days. Is VS suggesting the BJP “control room” invents these hashtags? If he does, he must be an idiot of the first water. Maybe VS would like to read how this happened at the Chirpstory page by @Equateall where he has listed a treasure of related tweets.
Next, when RahulG spoke at CII, I wasn’t aware of any trending hashtag. I was tweeting under #RaGaCII, RaGa being the nickname given to him by TimesNow. But I saw many tweets with #PappuCII so I shifted to that tag which also trended for almost 2 days. Even Sagarika Ghose was tweeting with that hashtag. Is she too directed by the BJP Control room dear VS? Is the Social Genius part of the BJP Twitter conspiracy? Now Pappu is not really a new name for RahulG, it has been used for him from the time I have been on Twitter and there are other tags like #YoRahulSoDumb which had trended in the past because of RahulG’s silly utterances. Is VS really crediting BJP control room with such great intelligence in creating funny hashtags? If he does, then I have to admire the party’s control room. Twitter started gaining currency in India during the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai in 2008. Most people, including me, have joined Twitter much later.
The BJP IT cell is not something new it has existed since the days of Pramod Mahajan but may have added a lot of new activities to it. The Congress too may have an IT cell but its activities are not very well known. So on April 8, when Modi gave his twin speeches at FICCI and ThinkIndia the MSM came up with a spurious theory about #Feku Vs #Pappu. Mind you, there was no Pappu trending on that day. If #Feku was trending at the top it was merely because both Congress and BJP supporters were fighting and tweeting under the same hashtag. Nothing wrong in a good fight, is there? Don’t the MSM love it? I hadn’t tweeted one single tweet under #Feku until much later when HeadlinesToday and NDTV were doing spurious programmes on this battle, which I called ‘Fekulogy’. But what was the other trend during Modi’s speech? It was #ModiStormsFICCI which started with this tweet I made while a discussion was being conducted on TimesNow before Modi’s speech when there were other tweets with the tag #TrustNaMo. Now, is VS the parrot seriously suggesting the BJP control room dictates these tags like #ModiStormsFICCI? It seems evident that VS thinks that like his MSM world everyone can be bought. No dear VS, not everyone is up for sale.
There is often a Twitter discussion on what could be the opposite of InternetHindus (IH). Some have jokingly coined IM (to imply Indian Mujahideen). Some have joked with other tags. On April 10, someone sent a tweet to me with a suggestion on the clueless tweets of some Congress supporters and a name for them. I turned it into a hashtag and started using #InternetPappus in my tweets starting with the one in the pic. Given the funny tag it naturally caught the fancy of Tweeple and became and remained the top trend for 2 days. I wonder if VS thinks this #InternetPappus is also a conspiracy by the BJP control room. I can assure you #InternetPappus is going to be used frequently. Even an SC lawyer referred to some in the judiciary as “Pappus” in another context. So the Pappu tag is not going away anytime soon till such time RahulG shows some performance or his supporters on Twitter show some humour.
While the MSM and their parrots see conspiracies and wars on Twitter I see this is as an extremely good sign. It is better for both sides to fight battles on Twitter and SM than to fight on the ground killing people, destroying property and burning furniture as they are currently doing in Bengal. This is the way ahead for political battles by ordinary people and will get refined as it goes along. The MSM’s basic fears stem from the fact that the SM is gaining influence and dictating public discourse. It probably worries them that even elections may be impacted by SM and eat into advertising share. Why is that not a nice thing? The MSM finds it hard to believe that there are ordinary people in the world who are on SM whose conscience is not up for sale unlike their own Hammam. In the meantime, Vir Sanghvi, and others like him in the MSM, may like to find a cure for their schizophrenia.
PS: The book “Social media as watchdog” is now available. You can order a copy from HERE.