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To Tweet or Not To Tweet

A Romantic JourneyEvery morning as soon as I get up and on the way to the office I update my status on my mobile Twitter with words on the lines of ‘good morning people’ or ‘on my way to the office, traffic not so bad this morning’. Throughout the day as I go through my daily activities I duly tweet what I do, what I eat, my opinions on current issues, my responses to what other Twitterers post and from time to time, my ideas and from time to time, some words or wisdom that cross my mind.

The last thing I do before retiring for the night is to check my Twitter Timeline and post a final tweet for the day, usually not forgetting to wish people goodnight.

I notice that I’m not the only one who in the last few months has developed this new habit. As a matter of fact, if anything other people tweet their statuses (which mostly consist of re-tweeting other people’s messages and a variation of the content I listed above) with even greater frequency.

I have a niece, who in real life is not a someone of many words, proving herself extremely chatty and opinionated on Twitter, posting her 140 character opinions on fashion, boys, gossips, parents, current affairs and a bunch of other topics that could generate lively discussions practically every hour. As a matter of fact, I believe she could even text from her mobile phone and update her status with one hand as she drives with the other, while airing her views on the appalling condition of Jakarta’s traffic.

So why, I often ask myself, am I doing it too?

It is not, in all honesty, to accumulate followers (people who follow your status updates, though not necessarily responding or reacting to them) though I must admit that I have quite a large number of these followers now (almost hitting the ten thousand marks!), and knowing that I have a huge number of strangers following my every move does boost my Ego somewhat. However, these days I am careful not to post anything that is too blatantly controversial or offensive just to be on the safe side.

It is not because I think I am a person of some importance or have a lot of interesting things to dish out worthy of mass publication (though you’d be surprised how fascinating someone’s lunch or dinner menu could be especially when you have a craving) or because I’m following a trend that the whole world (or at least a lot of Indonesians) are adopting for the moment.

One reason is that being on Twitter means you can get your news or information faster than, say, waiting until the newspaper gets delivered, you’re in front of the television or surfing the Internet for headlines. This is because all those other forms of traditional media post snippets of their latest headlines or teasers on Twitter to drive users to their sites as soon as their editors publish them.

For this reason I follow updates of a handful of quality media organisations and news websites as well as interesting newsmakers. With only one glance I could practically get a hologram of what is going on in the world: Oprah is tearful as she announced her final season talk show, 30 people drowned when a ferry capsized in Bangladesh, four police gunned down in Tacoma, tight trousers banned in West Aceh, Papuan women protest against alcohol, the film New Moon is grossing a record box office earnings etc.

Some of Indonesian ministers are now also avid Twitterers, our Minister of Communication and Information Tifatul Sembiring being one of the more active ones. Tifatul has accumulated a large number of followers in a relatively short space of time and I notice that he actually goes out of his way to respond to his followers’ feedback and comments, which is something that I’m often quite lazy about. In any case, here is a way to exert some influence on our lawmaker and other ministers would do well to follow suit if they wish to make better decisions about the fate of the country.

And when I follow Twitterers such as Oprah, Ellen, Christiane Amanpour, Deepak Chopra and Anderson Cooper, it’s nice to feel that you’re only one degree away from these world icons and that you could have instant insight into their activities and their opinions on things.

But, why do I myself post my updates, since I am neither a public official nor a newsmaker?
Perhaps because these so called regular updates of my activities and my thoughts are the equivalent of me talking to myself; my attempt to capture and crystallize those moments however insignificant they might be, before they fizzle and disappear swallowed by the passing of time.

My less than 140 character postings are like micro biographies, the Timeline, that is reminds even myself that I exist and somehow have to make a mark for myself before I too disappear for good.

(Desi Anwar)