We’ve been on an adventurous mission called ‘TweeSurfing’ that started in July 2016 and since then we have come a long way. Almost a year later, the launch of our web resource took place in June 2017 with a grand launch at the Twitter office in Mumbai with some of the most well known celebrities. Recently in August, TweeSurfing took another jump with a series of epic interviews on online safety/etiquette of some of the biggest celebrities and avid Twitter users.
Our first day began with an early start at the frequented Starbucks below the Red Chillies building, which feels like second home to us at this point, given the number of times we go there for the copious amounts of caffeine. Our first interview of the day was with @PedestrianPoet- Harnidh Kaur. The conversation was amazing and it was interesting to get the new generation’s perspective of social media. She is a native to social media, hence her perspective was very different, and her total non-acceptance of abuse was heartening to see. She spoke about initiating and engaging in conversations that one would connect to. ‘If you have to start a conversation on twitter, find a conversation worth having. One that matters to you’. We had engaged with her 3 years ago in a workshop and kept in touch, encouraging her growth and it was wonderful to interview her for TweeSurfing.
We interviewed @roshanabbas- Roshan Abbas next. A former director, TV anchor and now entrepreneur who currently employs 400 people, he came across as a humble and grounded man. He is also very tech savvy and one of the few people, who had researched on TweeSurfing before the interview. The interview went incredibly well in Hindi and it adds to our aim of reaching out in Indian local languages for a larger outreach. He had a bold approach to hate speech, encouraged users to not run away from trolls and to confront them in most cases. “I deal with trolling head on. That’s what I tell people to do. Don’t run away from it.”
Alarms rang early the next day and after battling a snooze war, managed a shower and breakfast and headed for the TweeSurfing workshop to Khalsa College, Matunga.This workshop was special, because noted equal rights activist, Harish Iyer (one of our original Tweesurfers) had organized it and this goes to show that the process is developing organically. Nothing could make us happier!
The faculty of the college was amazing, it had great facilities and everything was well organised. The audience was interactive and enthusiastic. Our methodology of emojication usually works really well with millennials, and this workshop was no different. The smiles and laughter confirmed our faith in the route of humour that we take in informing young people of the importance of staying safe in the online space. After the workshop we headed back to the Red Chillies building for the day’s interviews.
The first interview of the day was with @atulkasbekar- Atul Kasbekar, a well known Indian fashion photographer and Bollywood film producer. We were hoping he would give us a few moments after his Twitter periscope, and he did. We’re really grateful to Viral for organising and connecting us with such amazing Bollywood celebrities. The conversation with Atul was as pictorial as it gets. Fun fact- he’s the reason Sachin Tendulkar is on Twitter, and he’s on Twitter because of Karan Johar. His approach to trolling was light hearted “Just mute the person. That way, the person will think that you’re reading the conversation, where as you’re not, it’ll drive them crazy!”. He remembered his first tweet word to word and highlighted that twitter is used for getting information without an agenda by many users.
After his interview, walked in one of India’s most brilliant actors @AnupamPkher- Anupam Kher for the second interview of the day. His simplicity took over everybody in the ‘Blue Room’ within a moment and what followed was a superbly fun interview and it was a real treat for us to be conversing with him. The next 2 hours of conversation covered the topics of parenting, his use of Twitter, the importance of being honest and expressive on Twitter and the great sense of humour Indians have. When asked about his political views he clarified that his views aren’t political and instead they are that of a common citizen towards his country. He expresses them as he always has through his life just to a larger audience and on a larger social platform. “For the last few years, I put out an inspirational quote everyday”. His quotes are certainly ones to watch out for. He shared with us some priceless anecdotes and charmed us with his sense of humour, and we even clicked a candid picture of all of us laughing on one of his jokes.
The day ended with the interview of @rithvik_RD- Ritwik Dhanjani, a charismatic Indian Television actor. Mr Khatron Ke Khiladi walked in wearing a trendy bikers leather jacket (in Mumbai, go figure). It was great to get a perspective on a young entertainers take on social media. We connect to the youth through them and it was an enriching talk. He explained the interesting concepts of fan clubs being on Twitter and how they compete with each other. He is an avid user of Twitter and managed to explain the importance of staying safe on Twitter to the users quite well.
Our last and final day in Mumbai for TweeSurfing was an eventful with some of our best interviews. We started the day by interviewing the one and only @RahulBose1- Rahul Bose, definitely one of the finest actors Bollywood has ever seen and it was a real pleasure to be able to converse with him about the dynamics of Twitter and the online space. He spoke to us a little bit about the misunderstood controversy he had faced regarding one of his tweets on the convicts of the Nirbhaya case. “Its a great educational tool”. He spoke about how he follows several sport handles and that’s how he keeps in touch with whatever is happening across the country’s sport scene. He shared with us several stories of his early days and his involvement in the area of sports as well as fitness. How he explained the importance of staying safe online was the most eloquent of all the people we had interviewed.
We interviewed the extremely chilled out comedian- @kunalkamra88- Kunal Kamra next and it was a brilliant conversation. He shared his liberal views on the use of Twitter and how he believes that all of the youth must experience their own trajectory of growth. Any direct advice would not be well received by anybody that young and that all of them must make their own mistakes in order to learn. He highlighted the importance of being ethical in the online space.
Our last TweeSurfing interview was with @AahanaKumra- Aahana Kumra, a talented actress who had recently become wildly popular in the public eye due to her association with the brilliantly made Lipstick Under My Burkha. It was an intelligent conversation and she shared with us her experience of her growth on Twitter as well as an actress. “We need to feel safe online.” She spoke about how twitter is a safe space for a lot of people and its a platform where its okay to be vulnerable and make mistakes. She explained the different forms of harassment on twitter fairly well, and we felt that hers was one of our favourite interviews given her ability to connect with the users and charisma.
And with that, we ended the round of TweeSurfing and wrapped up. There was much to be done until the next set of interviews and the team of TweeSurfers headed back home to unwind and begin preparing on the future strategies of TweeSurfing.
Do log onto the website to have a look at all the interesting things these wonderful people had to say about their experiences with Twitter.