The Sunbaked King


What is it that compels us to Tweet? What drives us to state, in 140 characters or less, the minute happenings of the day, the smallest thoughts that cross our mind?

The Twitter phenomenon (or Plurk phenomenon, if you insist) can be considered as an interesting development in the realm of interpersonal relationships in particular, and poses as a more astounding leap when looked as a societal movement in general. What was once text messaging between people who know each other has been amplified to a bigger level. With Twitter, you can broadcast yourself to the world (that sounds like a YouTube slogan, but it fits), with almost no limits as to who can receive your updates, and no boundaries as to what your issues are going to be like. It’s like blogging in bite-sized, easy-to-digest pieces.

The wonderful thing about Twitter is that it allows you as much leeway as you want in expressing yourself, but at the same time provides you with enough protection so that you don’t put yourself out there as much. In other words, it’s a public avenue for people who wish to remain private. Consider celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Ryan Seacrest, Ellen DeGeneres, and the American Idol lads. Why has Twitter become so popular with them? It’s because they can maintain their public image (update their fans with their latest gigs, the type of tea they like, or whether they think so-and-so is an ass) without letting the public come too close to them. There’s always that “Block” link, and there’s always the option of reading the Tweets at your own sweet leisurely time.

But of course those are celebrities. They are almost required to be forever present; it’s their job, after all. But what about us? What drives us to Tweet?

Could it be driven by a celebrity complex that we all innately have? With Twitter, you are the star of your own page. The limelight is on you. You can be criticized, but you are shielded by the physical distance and the barrier afforded by a computer screen. As long as the protections are in place, you, yes, you, can update your “fans” with whatever you think is relevant. Because you think you are relevant.

Could it be dictated by a need to reach out to people? As far as societal movements go, “no man is an island” is still pretty much applicable, and this may drive our need to express ourselves to both friends and virtual strangers. Which is probably why the quality of details don’t matter. You can broadcast your lunch, the little incident in the elevator, or what you overheard in a cafe, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that these details exist. There is a sense of security in knowing that there’s a probability that people know that you are out there, somewhere.


I have been Twitterless for the most part during the past few days because my mobile phone bill each month threatened to swallow me whole. Now, I Tweet nights when I get home, on my laptop. Which sort of defeats the entire purpose of Tweeting, because really, Tweets are meant to be on-the-go, or at the very least, sent on a regular basis.

If there’s one thing I realized with this exercise in Twitter reduction, it’s this: I don’t really miss it. Whatever symptoms of withdrawal I feared I may encounter with my conscious decision to disconnect from the Twitterverse did not happen. There were no misty eyes, no shortage of breath, no tempting pull to whip out my phone and blast the world with my updates.

I guess not all phenomena are intended for everyone. I guess relevancy and security can be taken somewhere else. And I guess there’s really no need to ask myself each time:

What are you doing?


Filed under: Mindlifting, Them

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