‘140 characters should be fine. The mind functions randomly, it hardly stays for more than 140 characters on one topic anyways. Just put the immediate thoughts down on your profile and let people retweet and like it,’ this is what I said to myself while opening my twitter account @BGroundwest. Facebook had already become a best friend, given the amount of time one spent on it. And now the social friend group was supposed to have a new member.
But twitter turned out to be a rebel with an independent mind of its own. Not the kind which would join a group and acclimatise fast with the group members. Working with it raised questions. Why doesn’t anybody like my tweets or retweet me? Before the dawn of twitter, there was the dusk of one’s own company where thoughts would pass through your mind like updates on the twitter wall. I was almost alone on twitter, like I was before it, and hence no value addition seemed to have taken place.
Another goal of joining twitter, almost as a secret wish, was the promotion of my first novel B Ground West. I did try advertising and few cheesy tweets (including tweeting Orhan Pamuk whose novel Snow is mentioned in BGW) but they did not work to bring the bees to honey. Now I realize that there are many writers on twitter who promote their books and it takes time to get your profile recognised. This meant huge competition and nowadays one has learnt how to deal with situations like these.
My twitter enthusiasm crashed in a few days.
Later one day I had an epiphany. Just like our ancestors who had not taken troubles to document the Indian society, I had not taken troubles to document what I read. Which means if you read 5-6 articles a day and there is no documentation, it would just take 2-3 days for one to forget most of what has been read. This is bad, especially if you are a writer and may need to go back to one of them. When there are moments that something read earlier hits your memory and you want to go back to it, an archive of sorts would help. A place where all of these articles can be shared is your twitter account. Hence for me, I had found a value of twitter to keep me going. One can argue that bookmarking the articles will serve the purpose but then synergies of sharing on twitter and reading related articles is not possible through bookmarks. Plus there is a faint chance (and a wish) that years down the line, a group of people may be interested in what you are reading.
This is something I started 2 weeks back. And it does work fine. With the hashtag, you can keep tab on the subject matter you are most interested in. For me, climate change, auctions and writing are the prominent hashtags. You get few followers of similar interests whose tweets can enhance your knowledge on these subjects. A special help has come in the area of writing. As it is a lonely profession and one can easily get stuck for long periods of drought, connecting with fellow writers does help. Some of them are really active with their work and are busy tweeting quotes and tips from every nook and corner of the world. Apart from that, there are also recent trends on climate change and auctions that come to your twitter wall like fresh fruits plucked in the morning from a nearby orchard.
Of course it would be better if there is greater number of followers, who would at least get a glimpse of what is happening in the mind of a PhD student who writes occasionally. By the way, I have decided that I will keep my follower count higher than following. There is no particular reason for it, just a nail of irrationality stuck on the walls of my mind, refusing to get out. Hence this has restricted my activities a bit. But one is hopeful that in the course of time, the numbers will grow. Till then I am happy with the one important function my twitter account @BGroundwest is performing that is acting as my archive.