Birthday Greetings on Twitter

My first post of the year 2011. Tells you a lot about my laziness in blogging, doesn’t it?

Today is my birthday and I received hundreds of greetings via twitter. It was a wonderful yet also strange experience because most of the greetings came from strangers. I haven’t met them and have known them only from their 140 characters. Yet some of them felt quite close and familiar, result of everyday following their thoughts. Such is the power of twitter.

I have been using twitter for more than a year. I joined in 2008 but at that time I was just wondering what this so-called new social media thing was about. I became quite intense using twitter at the end of 2009. At first it was an amusing and weird experience. What could 140 chars do? Who should I talk (tweet) to? They didn’t know me, I was just an ordinary obscure person, and would they respond to my tweet? These kinds of question came to mind at first. But as time passing by, I already tweeted like a chess grandmaster. Using retweet, reply to, DM to expand my “network of strangers”. Stalking people timeline, stalking people conversations to find out their interests and then decided to follow those interesting accounts. Maybe subconsciously I even did my “branding” on twitter (@nukman would love proving this for sure).

From an ordinary obscure person, my “popularity” rose to “selebtwit” (label for twitter celebrity) status. They call people that have tens of thousands of followers as selebtwit which I never like and would love to argue. Yes I do have 16.000 something followers, but I don’t think it changed me into a celebrity. What it did is changing me from being obscure to being known by 8.000 something people (let’s assume half of that followers number are bots or fake accounts). From nobody-cares-about-your-thoughts to at-least-someone-are-willing-to-read-your-thoughts. Nice knowing that, isn’t it? And a couple of warm birthday greetings did help. 🙂

If American is the dreamland where every ordinary people’s dream could come true, then twitter is the internet dreamland. Here you really could do something that is not possible in real life. For example asking public figures such as Wimar Witoelar, Goenawan Mohamad to read my thoughts. It wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t join twitter. I have been a fan of Wimar books since college years and of Goenawan Mohamad Tempo’s Caping since junior high school. Since those days I have been eager to discuss with them, to let them know my thoughts of their opinions. To let them know how proud I was of their brave critics to Soeharto. And knowing that now they’re following my thoughts every day and I have met and discussed with them in real life, I can’t say enough about my gratitude to twitter.

Add that with hundreds of new friends that I encountered on twitter. Some of these new friends are also as obscure as me in real life. You might never hear of them on TV, radio, newspaper yet you are amazed by the brilliance of their thoughts. Of course some of them are quite successful with their life. They could be activists of some NGOs, directors of some organizations, journalists, consultants, doctors, lecturers, etc. They could be very well-known in their surroundings but never reach the media-famous level. On twitter, these guys are quickly accumulating followers. They are different and inspiring. Every day I learn a lot from them. And I’m sure there are thousands of people like them, only I don’t know yet and will surely encounter in the future, such is the power of twitter.

And twitter also has some surprises. You would be surprised to know some of the real celebrities are quite modest. They are willing to respond to your tweets, some even decided to follow you. And when they followed you they did read your tweets. Sometimes you would be surprised that they retweet your tweets, or reply to your tweets. Looks like some of them are using twitter for personal fun. It’s a fresh breathe to read strangers’ thoughts and communicating off the usual branding channel. You could also see interesting side from these celebrities, different from the picture infotainments want us to believe. And some are really smart (Sherina Munaf comes to mind, I adore this girl). It’s just sad that there are also some morons using twitter to abuse celebrities whom they don’t like. Victims of infotainments. Hopefully twitter could serve as alternative medium of knowing people apart from those cheap, full of gossip shows.

So I am very thankful for the warm birthday greetings you guys (yes you are on twitter, aren’t you?) sent me this morning. I have shared lots of my thoughts, my interests (Arsenal is the outstanding one), my dislikes (MU fans will hate me for sure), and some of my little knowledge about things (I’m master of none) on twitter. I’ll keep sharing on twitter because it is the most powerful social tool in the internet I reckon and provides the most fun. Hopefully a year from now we’re still having fun on twitter and closer bonds could be formed between us.

Last but not least I would like to pick my birthday present at Nou Camp tonight. An Arsenal win or any results that get us through will do :). And for you wonderful, strong women out there, Happy Women’s Day!