Person of the Week: The Tweeple


Person of the Week: The Tweeple

Illustration: Juergen Dsouza

In a week that saw a Game of Thones-like battle for Tamil Nadu chief minister, a prime minister take on a former prime minister with a “raincoat” jab, and a Yoga guru’s company release the most regressive ad we’ve seen in a long time, there was no dearth of things to talk about. Most conversations at that point revolved around the general idea that Indian people, both online and offline, have lost the plot. By the end of the week, in case there were any doubts left, along came Twitter user Namrata Datta, with the worst/best tweet to have ever hit the scene apparently.

Datta did what some people may consider to be a bad thing. She stole something called a “scribbled story” off social media network Facebook and posted it on social media network Twitter. She appeared to take credit for a while before clarifying that she had reposted the story, and immediately after, became the most popular Indian on the internet for a whole day.

The story she scribbled was quite underwhelming, actually – “Spoke to my ex after 10 years. ‘Miss or Mrs,’ he asked. ‘Dr,’ I said.”

But it didn’t matter for the Tweeple. They retweeted Datta in a particularly ugly shade of vengeance till she slowly surpassed Twitter champions such as PM Modi, Virendra Sehwag, and my personal favourite, Salman Khan, to soon become the author of the most “liked” tweet in Indian Twitter history. Yes, we’ll say that again – In. Indian. Twitter. History. All it took was a post about how one girl became a doctor ten years after she broke up with a boyfriend to become more popular than a selfie taken by Bollywood badshah Shah Rukh Khan with One Direction heartthrob Zayn Malik. She didn’t become a rocket scientist. Or an Avenger. She became a doctor.

Pause for reflection.

Give them something to yell about, give them something to laugh about, and give them something to feel profound about, and you’re guaranteed Twitter influencer status.

Now if you’ve ever dreamt of being a Twitter influencer (follow me @bombaysessions), we’re here to tell you that this simple but beautiful Ctrl C + Ctrl V job should put that dream to bed. Because there seems to be a trend to Twitter – you can never really tell what’s going to work. Tweeple can make celebrities out of anybody, whether it is through admiration or outrage. Datta set herself up for influencer-hood through the outrage mode. She activated the brainwash mechanism on Twitter’s interface (non-Tweeple will not be aware of this) in which vents flapped open, people congregated virtually, abandoned all real world tasks like work and putting food on the table, and sat down to virtually rip apart a relatively harmless girl for an absolutely mediocre tweet. Is there honestly nothing these people would rather do with their time?

In becoming the author of India’s most retweeted tweet, Datta has inadvertently cracked the ultimate formula for Twitter influencer-hood, and so I’m going to name it in her honor – the Datta Twitter Trifecta, or DTT, if you want to make it sound more iconic. The DTT is quite simple, actually: Give them something to yell about, give them something to laugh about, and give them something to feel profound about, and you’re guaranteed Twitter influencer status. Datta’s post, in my humble non-influencer opinion, was the perfect configuration of these three states of Tweetness. This configuration could also explain other internet occurrences like Taher Shah, or Pen Pineapple Apple Pen.

As you can see, the power Tweeple hold is immense, and thus this configuration assumes utmost importance. If it wasn’t enough that Datta had already become a legit meme, tweeted by some of the finest comedians in the country in less than 24 hours, she was also covered extensively in the news, including the Indian Express, NDTV, BBC India, and CNN. It isn’t as though this is the first time news pages have covered something on Twitter either – it’s pretty common to see a headline suffixed with “and Twitter exploded”, or “and Twitter was ripe with jokes”, or “and Twitter dropped a testicle”, or however else they decide to phrase it on the day. It’s reached the point where we’re actually subject to more articles about what Tweeple have to say about various pieces of news than the actual news itself.

The Tweeple, according to me, are secretly the most powerful people in the Indian media. They can make a person the most famous or the most hated individual on the planet, and they know it. Which is why they can take a tweet about a woman becoming a doctor in the 21st century and make headlines across a country of 1.3 billion people with ease. Ask yourself, what have you done with your life?