I discovered The Pioneer a couple of months back via Kanchan Gupta’s twitter page. If the ugly lay out doesn’t put you off and you dig deeper, you would be pleasantly surprised to find that they are a good news source and a great Op-ed and food for thought site. So I was looking forward to an invigorating read when Kanchan Gupta announced that his boss, Mr. Chandan Mitra was going to write about his (low) opinion of twitter. Unfortunately the post, titled Tweeting is silly, read like a rant more than anything else.
His arguments against twitter can be summarized as:
Twitter is silly because;
- People mostly use it to share mundane stuff like what they have for breakfast
- 140 characters is too little to write anything good
- All/most twitter users are youngsters who are lonely and want validation/connection
- Twitter will kill or is killing serious thought and dialogue
While he give no evidence to back up his claims, underlying his assertions seem to be a belief that online social networks are somehow inferior to real world ones, and that these networks are a sign of degeneration of the society.
What he gets wrong:
- Confusing the user with the media. Mobile phones are used by terrorists to talk about killing people, are mobile phones evil? Even if it is granted that tweeting about ones breakfast is silly, how does it make twitter silly?
- The mundane is not. I don’t know Mr Chandan personally but I doubt he can get through a day if he does no “mundane” talk at all. Sharing how your day was with your friends and family is one of the commonest and greatest forms of “bonding” exchanges. If we only spoke of policy, politics and philosophy, we shall either go mad, or turn into fanatics.
- Ignorance of social media and what makes it great. I think Mr Chandan has not understood why facebook, twitter and blogs have taken the world by storm; the power of social media lies in the centrality of the individual. No longer must he be limited by the tools given to him by traditional mediums of thought exchange. What can be done by social media is limited purely by the ability of its users.
- Bad basic research. If he had dug just a little beneath the surface, he would have realized that an immense amount of good is being done via twitter, from raising funds for Africa to creating awareness about domestic violence in India. His own associate editor recently managed to expose the hypocrisy and shallowness of the ruling party (ref: cattlegate)
I sincerely hope, that as a member of the main stream media he will give twitter more serious thought, or at least be informed in his derision.
Here are some further readings for those who wish to know that twitter can be used for and what brevity can do.