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Day in the life of a Pakistani twitterati

Being on twitter is addictive, maddening, hilarity inducing and pathetic all at the same time

Day in the life of a Pakistani twitterati

The day starts with smelling blood. Finding where packs are hunting the outrage of the day. Then one starts contributing to it from whichever perspective one subscribes to.

You could tweet with outrage, dismissively, with nihilistic humour — or just show your general misanthropy. Then of course you have to deal with the mentions of people writing back to you; those still imbibed with innocence and naiveté whom you brush off because they must be ill informed not to agree with you.

Of course there is a difference in how the day plays out between right wing and left wing tweeples. The right wing have broad agreement; they end up encouraging one another. The left take time out from fighting the right by occasionally indulging in secular sectarianism (as coined by Nadeem F. Paracha) to viciously fight over small points of difference.

Some avoid the secular sectarianism route by subtweeting. Subtweeting is an audacious exercise in optimism, the hope if your subliminal tweet will be obvious to everyone except the person you are tweeting about.

Throughout the day not only are you writing 140 character missives, but also bean counting. RT whoring (credit to Shahid Saeed who made me aware of the term) is the compromise of the integrity of your thought to the altar of popularity.

These days Twitter is an extremely divided space, reflecting the divisions in country. A lot of tweeples are practicing preemptive blocking which is to instinctively block people who are harassing others even if they are not following you.

And let’s not forget, it’s very different to be a man on twitter than a woman. Females get incredibly organised and sustained abuse on twitter, ostensibly from the protectors of the morals. Women who speak their mind on twitter are a special kind of brave lot; doubt we men can take a quarter of what they do in a year let alone what they take on a daily basis.

Some part of the day will invariably be taken up by responding to Pakistani nationalists who bleed green with dual nationalities. They have a special bond with authoritarianism and make keyboard jihad their mission in life. They say they will eventually come back to serve their country in person.

Now is not a good time.

These days, real friendships are lost and cyber ones bolstered.  Friends take to the web and speak to you like anonymous trolls — a mistake encouraged by the unwholesome atmosphere and the error of learning from how others you don’t know interact with you.

Timelines are everything. As the pack condemns the new daily atrocity, compassion fatigue quickly settles in, and more often than not satire and ribbing of the reaction to the atrocity starts to take hold. It’s a coping mechanism, and as someone said (on Twitter no less) the Pakistani corner of this social networking site is a bundle of joy for questionable dark humour.

But as you move from genuine compassion to emotionally removed commentary to helpless humour, some people have just woken up to genuine compassion. This mismatch of the timeline of emotion then creates new conflict for those still in the compassion stage, becoming antagonistic to those purveying light missives.

So yeah, being on Twitter these days is addictive, maddening, hilarity inducing and pathetic all at the same time. But, there are moments that make it all worth while, such as Affan Bin Saqib on Twitter (@affanbinsaqib). The man is truly a Prince. If we could all only be a little like him.

Fasi Zaka

Fasi Zaka copy
The writer is a Radio & TV Host.

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