Dear Twitter

“A global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing?”

What a totally innocent and not at all introspection forcing question! Seriously, Twitter, that’s how you started off?! For a service that has since been used for television publicity, sports commentary, press release, news, ending dictatorships, telling the world what you had for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you surely had a pretty humble start!

To think that Jack Dorsey initially used to tweet stuff like “sleep”, “after yoga bubble tea. Quickly!” while Biz Stone was “waiting for dinner - smells good”, it’s a really good thing that your early adopters had the rebellious rather than the founder worshiping trait. And it worked out pretty well for you, two of the most important features were inspired from the way your early adopters used the service: @mentions and Retweets. And let’s not forget, the now omnipresent, overused, misused and abused #hashtag, something that is threatening to invade every sphere of my life, was also your user’s idea. I can hardly move around online without running into #Beliebers or #TeamEdward and I blame you for this.

So, Twitter, I have known you since March 2009. That’s 4 and a half year’s of getting to know each other. To put things into perspective, that’s a longer period than with most of my real world close friends. It’s been a bumpy ride with you and I’m sure you will agree to that, seeing the number of times you shoved the “Fail Whale” into my face. However cute the whale is, it isn’t something that I want to see when I’m jumping up and down because Manchester United won the Premier League and I want to rub it in my Arsenal, Chelsea supporting friends post a dignified tweet about it. But, thankfully, you’ve learnt your lesson and isn’t this what friendship is about? Now when you hide behind the whale, people get worried about apocalypse and I get reminded about the good old days!

Twitter Fail Whate

Ah, the good old days! Those days were simple. I was a teen and you gave me the perfect outlet for the times when the CCD guy would serve my coffee a degree hotter than I could bear or when my hostel mates became too loud for comfort. Nobody heard those screams of course, I had like 30 followers and most of them were made of piece of code rather than flesh and blood. But you made up for the lack of followers by connecting me to the big guys! I still remember the first time Shashi Tharoor replied to one of my tweet and man it was awesome!

With time, both of us have matured enough, I think. Shashi Tharoor got replaced by Elon Musk, Paul Irish, Guido Van Rossum and others, my follower count is in 220s region now and I no longer have the urge to rant against every small little thing! But you, during the same time, have grown beyond recognition and I’m immensely proud of what you have become! The support that you were able to gather for Haiti, Hurricane Katrina, Fukushima and other horrific, natural incidents was phenomenal. Sure, this does lead to a lot of self declared pundits but the bigger picture is far bigger than any of the nuisance generators. You were also instrumental in toppling rulers in the MIddle East. Professors and the self declared pundits can argue as much as they want on whether or not you had a role in the Arab Springs, but no one can deny that you did have some role in it. I also loved to see you missing from the slides on PRISM and that you have repeatedly stood up against US government requests for access to your user’s data. In short, Twitter, you’ve grown up. From that confused kid who had no idea what he wanted to be to a mainstream heavyweight who has changed how people communicate globally, it’s been a joy seeing you grow.

Twitter, I’m no astrologer and I don’t know what the future has in store for you and I. I’m living a college life and it’s great. Yes, there are hard times, some of my professors are sadistic and numbers hardly ever seem to like me these days but I’m doing stuff that I like and I’m not going to listen to the naysayers around me. You also have had your hard times, like recently when you decided to change the effect of blocking but you responded pretty well to the user backlash. Twitter, it’s okay to take risks and I hope that you remain courageous enough to do things that others cannot even imagine, but always remember your loved ones, you don’t want to hurt them. (Words of wisdom! Man I’m getting smarter! :p)

A merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Twitter.

About Shashank Mehta:

Heading product for RazorpayX, building the future of business banking. Early bird (#7) at @Razorpay. Forever hoarse throat thanks to ManUtd.

Follow me on twitter. I don't tweet a lot though. Bummer, right?