Ten years of Twitter, a notification that is doing rounds on timelines across the world. It was today when @jack tweeted “just setting up my twttr”, and today billion others have done the same, sometimes inane and sometimes historic.
My Twitter story started seven years ago, a teenager from the downtown Srinagar who had been blogging since the age of 15. It was a time when I was on probably all famous social media platforms. From Friendster to MySpace to once-famous-Orkut, it was fun to interact with people without having to break from introverted self.
In 2009, post the first Ragda in Kashmir, Kashmiris had found themselves pitted against a terrible, biased and full of vitriol Indian media.
Facebook had become increasingly popular among the youngsters in the first Ragda of 2008. Hundreds of pages would broadcast news, pictures and videos from the streets rather than having anchors from Srinagar with their own biased narratives for the TV studios in Delhi. Here the tone was set for alternate media which could be heard, read and watched by people across the world.
2010 , a watershed year for most youngsters born around 1990s, Social Media in Kashmir received an enormous boost with thousands joining Facebook to broadcast their views on the massacre unleashed by the Indian forces. While Facebook would receive more public attention, Twitter received more attention through #Kashmir topping trends in India and the world.
#Kashmir had effective set of users, it was very political and had resonated in the power corridors of Pakistan to international human rights agencies. It was very engaging and Kashmiris had become an effective force on Twitter which by then had become a popular global platform.
From 2011 until now, Kashmiris on twitter are a force to reckon with. From trending #KashmirNow worldwide for a week post Afzal hanging, to #FreeKashmir in India and Pakistan.
There have been endless Tweetstorms which have received tremendous response from the media like the #WeAreSeditious. To people tweeting personal stories in #Kashmir90s, #TortureKashmir, #WeAreKashmir or to sharing hopes of a Kashmir they envision in #FutureKashmirHeadlines.
Sanaa Sultan being the one at the forefront of all of this and more. Tirelessly working to make tweet sets on paste bins. Using her experience in Palestinian tweetstorms she brought a great value to Kashmiri activism.
The riveting images by Majid Pandit who led #Kashmir from the front in 2010.
Kashmiris have organised #KashmirFloods which set a precedent on rescue and relief coordination. That showed the world how to use Social Media during disaster situations.
Beyond all the seriousness associated with politics, there is a funny side to Kashmir as well. Kashmiri Twitter has over the years developed different dynamics. #RIKA, #ThingsKashmirisAreAsked, #YouKnowYouAreAKashmiri et al has presented a different outlook of Kashmir far removed from the stereotypical image in the media. There’s a major sense of identity consciousness and belonging that is akin to any country’s users.
On Twitter at least, Kashmir is a country of its own.
There have been bloggers who have hounded by the police and the agencies, there have been opportunists who made careers by a false portrayal, there have been humorists, the historians, the analysts, the activists, the jerks, the pervs and so many different elements.
Most of Kashmiris are mostly into two things; poetry and politics.No surprises that a Kashmiri heads the Twitter India (politics)
If @icashmir retweets you, higher chances of being viral. If you are a cultural aficionado then @RichAutumns is a way to go. If you like the funny side @LeFahadd @abdad77 @sakibbazaz are top-notch. If you want to know all politics @icashmir @_projectkashmir are on the job. If you want to know what was the old Kashmiri Twitter like, then @NaveedQazi and @Obi3e have made lists. Kashmiriz and Twitter: Kashmir
The most famous school from Kashmir is the Haji Public School run by @SabaahHaji, which recruits volunteers and obtains supplies from the good folks around the world.
There are authors @MirzaWaheed, @basharat_peer, @sameerft et al, there are the leaders @sageelani, @MirwaizKashmir and politicians @abdullah_omar. There are must follow accounts like the @LostKashmirHist, @KashmirInPhotos, @KashPhotoClub, @KashmirView (for all the news).
Here’s a list of Kweeple i made in 2012
Over the last two years, there has been a slow exodus from Facebook to Twitter, with more people enriching content and adding to the power that is Kashmiri Twitter. The more the merrier.
Pakistanis are good friends, Indians occasionally troll and there are random naked chicks which will like your tweet only for you to perform wudhu of eyes. There’s a whatabboutery section as well, dedicated people.
For me personally, Twitter has helped me grow as a person and influenced my reading habits. I have made friends, formed bitter enemies and faced Twitter Jails for tweeting too much during Twitterstorms. Getting calls from organisations to hire me after #KashmirFloods or random death threats that i dismiss with a smirk.
Walking in Srinagar, and a random person coming up to me for Salam and “hey its (insert handle name) from Twitter and i like what you tweet.” It is humbling and at the same time makes me think twice when i push the compose button.
Thank you everyone, who helped me grow as a human being.
ps: apologies if i missed anyone, please refer in the comments will update it later