Fools strike gold every year on the ill-fated April 1. And online jests keep getting more obscure. Twitter, being the deliverer, Bollywood’s top notch decided to poke. The famous handle of iamsrk, belonging to Shah Rukh Khan, decided he had had enough. A news leak on Arpil 1, 2010, read: “Shah Rukh Khan is apparently fed up of Twitter.
He announced some hours ago that he will be closing his Twitter account and today will feature his last few tweets. The actor mentioned that he hates Twitter.” A disclaimer as a statutory warning in bold followed: “This is not an April Fool Joke.” Of course, the Twitter retirement turkeyed. Clearly, Shah Rukh Khan was far from done. His handle could easily add a line on his TV show, ‘tweet with me…’
It’s been quite a while since he peaked the 2,00,000 plus follower count on Twitter and while he gets debating about everything from ‘nudity’ to his IPL rants to his movies (a common cloak all B-town celebs hide under for their reason to be virtually active), we are still reeling from his talks on Twitter.
It’s amusing to watch just how many hours in a day, Khan is willing to spend on his online office. One might diagnose this as an acute addiction. He isn’t alone though. Many others, miles away, are still reeling in the world of social networking sites. And we are totally spoiled for choice. While Facebook makes us look pretty, perched on the online shelf space, Myspace showcases our latent talents.
Twitter keeps us chirping like Robins all day. With a host of options available, a normal consenting adult and confused tween spends nearly 70 per cent of one’s productive time online. In a class of sexual deviant behaviour, online mingling and Facebooking can now be equated with soft porn. However, many are gradually giving in to boredom and anxiety. Post the war of maximising friend lists and followers, we are now leaving Facebook and Twitter. The detox has started.
And one of its first victims is Abhay Deol. The actor has reclused in his offline shell. His plea? ‘Everyone-wants-to-be-my-friend’ syndrome. And it is getting to him. “I had some 600 friends initially. Every few minutes, my inbox would be filled with requests. Everybody I knew started tagging pictures, videos and I felt I was being stalked. I couldn’t do it anymore. I quit Facebook. Now my publicist uses a fan page,” Deol rants. He never even made it to Twitter.
Stalking is something Lara Datta was wary of as well, when she joined Twitter. Hate tweets and lewd messaging become all the more uncensored and easily distributed, considering you are just that much closer to your fans. The actor ended up blocking many of her followers. “These people were posting nasty messages on my Twitter page. Many of my colleagues, who have faced the same thing, are doing that. I don’t want any hate messages on my Twitter account,” says Lara.
In this highly communicative era, it’s not cool to not have a status. A boring profile picture is an unforgivable sin, frequent updates are a must. Less than 500 followers is shameful and an empty inbox should just read into suicide. Says this popular actress, who doesn’t want to be named: “Yesterday, my boyfriend was here at the shoot and I was tweeting. He got angry and left. But I can’t help it. I have to tweet. I simply have to.”
The compulsive disorder has set in deep… Status Update Anxiety. Sometimes, you just run out of things to say. Pritish Nandy is a perfect example. “When I just started out on Twitter, I was very active. I’d push myself to updating status messages. I’d even keep work aside to do it. But, now I’m sort of fatigued. You see, the situation is like a stamp collectors’; initially you put in a lot of effort, but you become selective eventually.
I’m not on maintenance mode now. I anyway find the telephone culture very intrusive. I don’t like strangers calling me up and acting friendly. I hated Facebook from the time it was introduced, so I never went on it. I make it a point to respond to SMSes and all the tweets though. But I don’t know if I will leave it.”
Gul Panag, who was one of the first few to be bitten by the Twitter bug, says, “Yes, I was addicted. But now if I have nothing to say, I don’t tweet. Neither am I followed, nor do I follow your average celebrity. So, for an opinionated person like me, I did get carried away. Now although, I am fairly reticent.”
Others like Bipasha Basu just didn’t understand what the online networking fuss was all about. “I have a Facebook account, but I’m not active on it. I’m still trying to figure out how people make time for social networking sites. I’m not on Twitter.”
Saif Ali Khan thinks it’s a teen thing. “These are youth created social mechanisms and the under-20 group is completely hooked. It’s a medium to keep track of family and friends. And when I have a film coming up for release, I’ll use it as a means of promotion. But otherwise, I’m too private a person to share my thoughts with the world. I’d rather keep my distance from strangers,” Khan points out.
While the Facebook fatigue is getting to our stars, there are some who are still hooked to it. TV actor Gaurav Gera is getting caught in the frequent update anxiety already. “If I don’t update my Facebook status every few hours, I get disappointed comments. I have a long friends list. But I am not complaining,” says Gera, proudly showing off his Facebook page, which went temporarily unavailable, when he was attending IIFA at Macau last year.
He put up videos of the Bachchans, Hrithik Roshan, Bispasha Basu, Farhan Akhtar and Priyanka Chopra, saying ‘Hi’ to his Facebook friends. “I can’t disappoint my friends. Even when I’m shooting, I’m online,” Gera is the incurable addict.Does this mean that five years into its boom, the social networking site is the breeding ground of our newest anxiety? We hope not.