Prime Minister Narendra Modi is having the taste of his global digital fame
Twitter is the weapon of choice now for celebrities to decry his action against farmers
We’re in the golden age of content, and this content has nothing to do with content as in quite satisfied, or as in completely at ease, though with adequate amounts of the right content all media would sail through without a hitch. Are tweets content? Good question. The answer is almost every other story published these days comes loaded with tweets, those which take the story forward and which are pregnant with possibilities including the prospect of raising a crop of protests.
So, when President Donald J Trump tweeted, which was at all hours of the day when he was awake, there was always a good story in his tweet’s content. Donald Trump was to Twitter what Twitter is to Social Media – a force-multiplier. Trump made Twitter tick, and vice versa. Now, without Trump on Twitter, the micro blogging site has not only lost millions of subscribers, but also billions of dollars!
That being said, Twitter is hugely popular in India. People love to be on Twitter, possess a Twitter handle and spend time re-tweeting some person’s mostly asinine thoughts. Tens of millions of Indians wake up to tweets and go to sleep with 140 alphabets still in mind. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on Twitter with the 12th largest number of followers on Twitter-world. Barack Obama tops the list with 128 million followers. Other Indians on the top-50 Twitter list include Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Virat Kohli and Akshay Kumar.
Donald Trump used to rank 6th till Twitter “suspended” him “permanently” and announced to the world that Twitter founder Jack Dorsey was by far more powerful than the President of the United States. But Dorsey’s pipe-dream was short-lived. Joe Biden became President and now Dorsey is hiding under the bannister. Not just Dorsey, also Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai.
All three of them together are what’s termed and hailed and feared as ‘Big Tech’, the rulers of the world in the years to come. They are also the ‘Thought Police.’ In the United States, they, and especially Twitter, along with Big Business run the show. The joke is President Joe Biden signs the executive orders while Big Tech and Big Business give the orders, egged on and nudged by the Democrats.
President Joe Biden does not mind. Joe is not a Twitter-freak like Trump. And if Meena Harris fills in the gap so be it. Meena Harris followed Rihanna, Mia Khalifa and Greta Thunberg in tweet-lambasting India and the Modi Government for playing poker with the kisans of India, especially annoyed that Union Home Minister Amit Shah had snapped Internet ties with the farmers on Delhi’s borders.
Thunberg even tweeted a “toolkit”, a do it yourself document on how to escalate street unrest during a protest. Now Meena Harris is complaining and asking why are her effigies being burnt in India? To begin with, it was Rihanna’s tweet that hurt India most. India’s Ministry of External Affairs tweeted a defence of India when it should not have. Mistake No.2 was when the Delhi Police lodged an FIR against climate activist Greta Thunberg, hoping to change the weather outlook for her.
But the girl is standing firm with her original tweet, with a second tweet saying that nothing, not even a ‘twitterstorm’, will change her mind on the Indian farmers' agitation. “I stand firm with farmers,” she tweeted a second time for good effect.
The problem is the Government of India cannot do anything about Greta Thunberg or about Rihanna or about soft-porn-star Mia Khalifa. They have Twitter on their side, and they have big chunks of Indians rooting for them. At least that is what the talk on Twitter says! Above all, Twitter does not care. The Modi Government sent to Twitter-India a list of “anti-national” twitter handles to be suspended ASAP, which Twitter did but only to restore them within five hours of the action.
The sad part of the commentary for the BJP’s IT-Cell is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot even tweet his anger on this Twitter misdemeanour. Donald Trump would have done it, but Narendra Modi is no Trump. Besides, Modi has been turning a new leaf in recent times. He wants to join the club of liberals, self-defang, so to speak. Not that he was a snake to begin with, but it’s no secret that every conservative-nationalist’s last wish is to be counted among the liberals
It is a futile dream, but what’s the harm if somebody dreams and refuses to stop dreaming. What Modi hasn’t so far understood is that Big Tech has him and his ilk in the crosshairs! Trump thought he would be spared and see what happened. Now, from what’s happening in the cyber-world, it looks like the changing times.
The penultimate push was when Trump was toppled. Boris Johnson and Macron escaped oblivion by the skin of their teeth. By ‘2024’ it will be Modi’s turn. Twitter has lined him up for eviction. For now, he is only being tested. The pinpricks and misdemeanours will multiply in the months to come. Big Tech, like millions of Indians, has understood that Narendra Modi is all talk and little walk. Modi’s tryst with Twitter is unfolding.
(Views expressed are personal)