Suresh Menon

Friday - - News -

At last – our colum­nist gives in and com­presses his life into 140 char­ac­ters.

Last week, I was dragged kick­ing and scream­ing by my son into the 20th Cen­tury. In a few days’ time, I hope to make it to the 21st.

For too long I have been an­swer­ing the ques­tion, “Why are you not on Twit­ter?” in dif­fer­ent ways, de­pend­ing on my mood.

“Be­cause I don’t care to tell the world what I had for break­fast, how many steps I took to the front gate and why I can’t spell ‘chrysan­tu­mum’,” I have said on oc­ca­sion. At other times I’ve de­clared, “Be­cause I don’t care for the world to tell me what it had for break­fast or why Bat­tle­ship Potemkin is a great movie.” More re­cently, I be­came more suc­cinct: “Be­cause I don’t give a ro­dent’s don­key,” I have re­sponded with a su­pe­rior air.

Be­ing on Twit­ter was one of the things I wasn’t go­ing to do – like cross­ing the Sa­hara on a bi­cy­cle or com­pos­ing the national an­them of an ar­ti­fi­cial city on Mars.

And then it hap­pened. Pic­ture the scene. A lazy Sun­day af­ter­noon. Great lunch. Won­der­ful mu­sic. Salu­bri­ous weather. Sorry, wrong pic­ture. What I meant to say was: there was a short break from work that co­in­cided with the pres­ence of my son at home and within a few min­utes the deed was done. I changed from be­ing a per­son with a first name and a sec­ond, to one with a con­sol­i­dated name pre­fixed by a sym­bol. My par­ents who may have con­grat­u­lated each other for com­ing up with a great name for their son are prob­a­bly in shock. For I am now sim­ply @sur­menon, and li­able at any mo­ment ei­ther to tell the world how to run it­self or to re­veal the in­ner­most se­crets of my break­fast rou­tine.

I have a won­der­ful ar­ray of friends though – Richard Dawkins, Stephen Fry, Barack Obama, the guy who de­liv­ers our veg­eta­bles and thinks that all cricket matches are fixed – but this is un­re­quited friend­ship. Obama’s last tweet was not ad­dressed per­son­ally to me, and Dawkins was not prov­ing a point in or­der to il­licit my agree­ment. Yet I have no idea how to re­spond if Obama does send me a per­sonal mes­sage say­ing: “We are in­vad­ing China this week, weather per­mit­ting.”

Just be­fore set­ting up my ac­count my son re­ferred to me af­fec­tion­ately as a troglodyte and a Lud­dite. At least, I hope it was done af­fec­tion­ately. Ac­tu­ally, I am nei­ther. I oc­ca­sion­ally use a ra­dio, and this col­umn is be­ing writ­ten on a won­der­ful type­writer given to me by my grand­fa­ther on my 10th birth­day (or his 10th birth­day, I for­get which).

Tweets are fun, though. Even if they are of­ten hair-tear­ingly ba­nal. As some­one tweeted, “Imag­ine, be­fore Twit­ter, th­ese were the thoughts in­side our heads.” Ex­actly.

Suresh Menon is a writer based in In­dia. In his youth he set out to change the world, but later de­cided to leave it as it is.

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