Twitter is fun for some people, some people it is a serious business. There are some folks for whom Twitter is a very high priority, which has given them identity. One such person is V Shakthi from Bangalore.
He has some health issues but is undeterred in his ambitions. He tweets and keeps his Twitter followers happy, and claims to reply to all the mentions he get. You might feel this is a no big deal but for a person who has over 60 thousand followers, it is.
He stays on top of all happenings around his interest areas of Business, Technology and (a bit of) politics.
[Bhupendra] Hi Shakthi. Nice to have you with us. How are you?
[Shakthi] I am doing very well and it is a privilege to be featured on Buzzom. Buzzom has been one of my favorite companions right through my journey on twitter .The network I have today on twitter is mostly due to Buzzom and the good guidance from you and other friendly tweeple like @Cheth and @ManiKarthik . The journey has been fun and now I am looking forward to it.
[Bhupendra] Tell us something about yourself.
[Shakthi] Like my Bio on twitter says, I am just another guy on twitter. I work for a very energetic company that specializes in internet presence and digital brand building. I am a son, a dad and a lot of other things .I started as a blogger who liked tweeting, and now I am a tweeter who likes blogging J . I have a physical challenge in the form of a dysfunctional right side (arm and leg), but that takes nothing away from what I want to say and do. It just makes me more motivated to keep raising the bar that I set for myself and keep rising to it. That is part of the reason I love twitter, here I am just like everyone else.
[Bhupendra] You are an expert tweeter. This is how I know you. What does it mean to you?
[Shakthi] It means a lot to me .Coming from @leplan , that is like Sachin calling me a great batsman ! Tweeting is an activity that I put a lot of effort and thought into. My tweets are carefully selected and timed. If you see that I trust a source on the internet, you can be sure that I have put effort into studying the site and the content carefully before tweeting it. That is one of the value adds that I want to give my followers. I take a lot of time and try to respond to each @mention that is addressed to me, and I do 90% of the time. Twitter has taught me that conversations make a big difference to the quality of your network. Getting followed is easy and staying followed is the tough deal. That is the art side of tweeting; it is more a function of style. Twitter also teaches you to manage yourself as a brand and to deal with others’ perception of you. In short , according to me , being an expert tweeter is a full time activity that takes a lot of thought , I had good teachers @leplan , @cheth , @AskAaronLee are a few noteworthy friends who help me all the time. Thank you for calling me an “expert”.
[Bhupendra] You are ranked 1st among Non Celebrity Tweeples in Bangalore, and have more than 60 thousand followers. Many famous celebs also do not have this number. How do you feel competing with these celebs in their own strong area – FAME?
[Shakthi] That is the real power of twitter, it has created a new breed of “celebs”, you and me. It puts great potential into the hands of a common man. Someone like me could not have dreamt of addressing an audience of 60,000 + on a daily basis a few years ago. I mean, it’s like half a cricket stadium. It makes me feel heady sometimes, but then, all that matters cannot be counted and all that can be counted need not matter. I do not consider myself famous or popular, just privileged and lucky.
Many Famous celebs don’t have that number because, they use twitter as a broadcast medium and not as a communication platform. I also find that most of their tweets are annoying or senseless. They are misusing twitter as another platform to gather numbers and boast about them. I do not follow any of these celebs, I do talk to them on twitter often but I don’t follow them. It is pointless.
Being the most followed “common man” is a nice thing, but with great power comes great responsibility and I try and add value to everyone who needs my help on twitter. Hope to continue doing that
[Bhupendra] Most followed Indian is again a techie – Padmasree, CTO of Cisco. This is so different from US, where most followed people are all real world celebrities from Music and Film industry. How do you see it?
[Shakthi] I see it as a benchmark of the Indian thought process, someone like Padmasree is what I would love my son to try and become rather than Justin Beiber! Jokes apart, there are things that distinguish the behavior of Indians from others on twitter, like they don’t follow back that easily. Indians also have comparatively less tolerance to mindless musings of celebs – there are instances when writers and Bollywood stars have been shamed very openly on twitter by the ordinary man. There is also the flip side, I see a lot of young chaps oohing and aahing at bollywood beauties on twitter in vain hope of a response. It would be interesting if you could get stats that are slightly different , like who is the tweep who has most number of followers from India , and how many “celebs” actually care to respond to followers like @Alyssa_Milano or @gulpanag .
[Bhupendra] Social Networks are now changing the way decisions are made, businesses are done. We saw its strength in several Middle East movements, and also our own version — the support for Anna Hazare for Lok Pal Bill. Is this happening for good?
[Shakthi] This is a heartening development and a clear sign that Social Media is here to stay and make a difference. But what we need to do is take it to the next step, people who support causes on Twitter/Facebook or anywhere else need to follow it up with action in the real world. It is one thing to bad mouth the system on twitter and another thing to own up, be accountable for it and stand up in the real world. A HashTag supporting a cause shows your intent, you need to act that intent out and make a difference. In the Middle East movements too, Social Media played the role of an enabler, it wasn’t the end all and be all of the movements. Tweeple like @ghonim are examples of folks who follow up internet activism with real world action.
I would also like to draw your attention to misuse of Social Media to bully people. There are people who take advantage of someone’s real world problems and bully them on twitter. Unfortunately in cases like that, I often see that the crowd sides with the wrong one. People who don’t even know a guy will bad mouth him just because some other guy and his friends are doing it. This needs to be arrested. I have personally seen people get into nervous breakdowns due to things like this.
What is also important is to draw a line between online and offline “friendship” , the former will never replace the latter as human nature puts a lot of weightage to visual contact and seeing someone makes them more trustworthy than “hearing” or “reading” about them on the internet .
[Bhupendra] Will this information revolution last? Or is it just a fad?
[Shakthi] The information revolution is unique in the fact that it’s origin is from an intangible source , the computer, and it constantly needs a push from the real world to keep going .This revolution has swept the world in a way that nothing else has , at least not after the industrial revolution . But then, we need to remember that everything has a shelf life and validity. If this one dies, mark my words , it will be because of over-information and security breaches. If we all can get together and address these two issues in a scalable and reasonable manner, then the revolution will stay and continue to impact all of us in many positive ways like it is now . It is not a fad , but it isn’t all that it is made out to be . It can enable many a good thing , but just an online movement will never see anything get done without an equivalent or bigger push in the real world .
[Bhupendra] What are the other Social Networks you use apart from Twitter?
[Shakthi] I user LinkedIn for professional networking. I believe that LinkedIn is a great tool to build and leverage a professional network . I have made many credible and useful connections there .
And like everyone else , I am also on Facebook. I use Facebook to re-connect virtually with the real friends from the real world . I am also moderately active on Quora .
[Bhupendra] Many people believe that Facebook will one day have the Whole World. Do you believe it will happen?
[Shakthi] Nope , that is not gonna happen . There are two reasons for it . The first is that Facebook is way past it’s prime as far as novelty and utility value are concerned . According to me Facebook use is all set to saturate and taper off into lower levels pretty soon . It sucks up a lot of time and there are evidently more negatives than positives to getting on there and staying there . Loss of privacy is a main area of concern .
[Bhupendra] One very important question. China has Renren, Weibo, Japan has GREE and Mixi. Can India have its version of Social Network like these? Or will we be always using American versions?
[Shakthi] A wonderful question . All these sites are local crowd pullers, yes . But there is one thing that India has that none of these countries have , the proverbial Tea shop bench and the cafeteria . We Indians are social by upbringing and do not need sites of our own to re-inforce that .Jokes apart , I would love to see an Indian Social Media site come up and take centrestage . But look at all these countries , they all speak one language and have just one local culture , in India ,we have a multitude of languages and cultures. This diversity makes India a complicated social challenge . Someone has to come up with a smart way to address that . Then we will see an Indian entity emerge in the sphere of social media .
[Bhupendra] Anything you want to say to our readers.
[Shakthi] Thank you for bearing with me on twitter for so long . I request each and every educated Indian with internet access to get on Social Media and stay . Stay and Share , do not get lost in the crowd of celeb gawkers , have an identity and hold on to it . Remember , Social media can make anyone a celebrity . India can use more of it’s sons and daughters having online voices and having a say in important issues .
[Bhupendra] Thanks Shakthi. Appreciate you spending your precious time and giving the valuable thoughts.
[Shakthi] It is an honor and pleasure to be talking to @leplan and being featured on Buzzom . Thank you for this opportunity and Rock on !