Why what’s trending on Twitter in India is largely inconsequential

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Now that the mainstream Indian media has discovered the wonders of the Internet, anything that is remotely out of the ordinary online tends to make headlines and triggers studio discussions.

One of the most misused words in the mainstream media is of course – hacking. And the other most followed and reported on is Twitter trends. While there is nothing wrong about reporting what is happening somewhere, but the importance given to many of the events are more often than not grossly out of proportion.

One such event is today’s top trend on Twitter – #PappuDiwas (because it happens to be Rahul Gandhi’s birthday).

Why what's trending on Twitter in India is largely inconsequential

To someone reading such a news item or watching it on the idiot box, it might give the impression that millions are logging in to express their vociferous opinion in 140 characters around the hashtag in question. But when you look at the actual numbers, they are too miniscule to be actually given that degree of importance.

For example, according to to Topsy (the service that returned me the highest figures for my search) there have been only 4796 tweets at the time of posting this and individual Twitter accounts would have tweeted multiple times with the same hashtag. This makes the number of actual people tweeting with the hashtag much smaller. Sometimes the top trends account for far fewer tweets.

Now how much would you weigh the opinion of, at most, a couple of thousand people (most of whom would also be from a similar socio-economic class) in an electorate of over 700 million?

I know that many would construe this as a pro-Congress post. But those who know, will know that this isn’t. The example used is only illustrative to drive the point that the universe of social media opinion in India is still in its formative stages to have any noticeable impact on actual politics, irrespective of what some studies say. More so for Twitter.

Also we should also not forget that Twitter, like so many other places, is full of opinionated idiots and they make the most merry out of the inane. #PappuDiwas, or for that matter #feku is no different.

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