The Twitter timeline vs. Pritish Nandy

Yesterday morning, there was a huge flurry of activity on Twitter around one article (The people vs N.Srinivasan). On Mumbai Mirror. By Pritish Nandy.

Yes, it was a very different piece of opinion on N.Srinivasan that took a larger view to the whole tale than every other mainstream news outlet’s perspective. It (to me) seemed to be asking all the right questions and bringing to the fore hitherto unexplored (or explored with very little context) parts of the story.

But, that’s not the point of this post. It is rather about the how the article seemed to be on everyone’s lips, mind and timeline.

About 392,000+ people follow Pritish Nandy. With his legacy, wit and intellect, the man deserves this and more, in my opinion.

But, consider this.

Yesterday morning, he tweeted his Mumbai Mirror article once, at 9:01am. And, followed it up with retweeting 102 people who had good-to-great things said about it. This included only 19 retweets which had the link of the article in question.

So, do the math. Nearly 4 lakh people follow the man. They saw the article link from him once. And saw 100+ more tweets from utterly random people (many of whom I/we don’t follow) who gushed their praise for the article. Result: it ‘looked like’ everybody was reading Pritish Nandy’s article.

Imagine the offline equivalent. You see the snippet of an article on page one of a newspaper with a note, ‘continued on page 7’. And then when you move to page 2, it has 100 people exclaiming how good that page 1 article is about. No, this is not from fellow journalists who write for that publication – this is from aam janta… people who we don’t know at all. That could make one go, ‘Wow! So many people are talking about this piece. I need to read this too!’

Next question – what was those things that he was retweeting? Sample (besides the occasional meaningful opinion being retweeted).

Pritish did take time to explain (after perhaps having seen a lot of people complaining about timeline spam – remember, nearly 4 lakh people follow him) his rapid-fire retweets once.

And then, the people who complained.

I have written about the nature of retweeting self-praise earlier. It was about being choosy in using the PR tool called ‘3rd party validation’. Who endorses you is as much important as what the endorsement is about.

There’s nothing more to add from that one, but for 2 things – one, there is nothing wrong with what Pritish did yesterday with those 100+ retweets. ‘Wrong’ is a wrong word, perhaps – I/we are no one to call it right or wrong; it’s what works for his user base that is right, in a way. Having nearly 4 lakh followers, I’m sure he can afford to lose 25-50 followers over this incident – it is no big deal, really. And, in this case, the article in question is something that is sound and worth the read. So, I was flooded with all those tweets and was tempted to see the article and quite appreciated his point of view. The article, in a way, deserved praise, but it was just that it all felt odd coming from the man himself – that is, the man curating praise for himself, with 80+ retweets not having context on why exactly people were praising him.

I don’t think I’m qualified enough to tell the man how to retweet, but personally, I’d perhaps request him to retweet with some more respect for his followers. For example, he could choose to retweet comments that extend the conversation so as to take the debate outside the article and into Twitter. That would bring in more opinions to the fore and let people indulge in a healthy discussion for and against his point of view. As against retweeting 2-3 word priases that don’t add value to his followers.

That’s what it boils down to, on Twitter, I suppose. Every tweet should perhaps make some sense or add value to your followers for you to remain relevant to them. But even that comes with the caveat – whatever works for the majority of your followers is perhaps what is ‘right’. There would always be a few people who could say that a tweet of yours was pointless – it’s their opinion and you cannot do anything about it. But if these are from 10 people, against 250 people who liked it, you know which constituency you need to focus on.

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  • pa12tha

    Here’s an honest tweet which got a response, but no RT!