On Monday night, PM Narendra Modi made a surprise announcement on Twitter.
Predictably, the Twitterverse lost its mind. But, in all fairness, so did the media.
Let’s start with Twitter responses.
Some praised this announcement, because Modiji breathing is also a masterstroke for ardent followers of the great man.
Some immediately screamed at Twitter for being a shitty parasite of a platform whose greatest achievement is having Modiji on Twitter and profiting from his virtual greatness.
Some were like, “Yasss! Swadeshi stuff only please. Time for India to develop its own social media platforms because all the existing ones are oh-so-controversial!”
These folks seem to believe that an Indian social media platform would be as pure as desi gaumata ghee and completely free of controversies.
Some celebrated. “Oh! Pinch me and tell me this is not a dream!”
Others got all protective of Modiji, because the entire world is against this great man. Not just that, they believe the entire world is jealous of this saviour of mankind.
Some wanted people to prove their loyalty towards the great leader by expressing their nuanced opinions in the form of a like, retweet, or comment.
Some decided that Modiji’s tweet is responsible for a rise in stocks of Facebook, Google and Twitter because, obviously, even a single word uttered by Him is enough to cause sudden world-wide economic prosperity.
As theories about our dear prime minister going on a social media sanyaas flew thick and fast, the PM put it all to rest by tweeting this out on Tuesday.
Essentially, our Lord Commander is only quitting social media for a day because he wants to do this fun new publicity stunt that his team probably stole from Buzzfeed's Instagram takeovers. Probably.
But between the time that the first tweet went out from the Twitter handle of Supreme Leader and the next one appeared, there was a time gap of about 16 hours.
Now, 16 hours was enough for our TV channels to have an absolute field day. Starved and hungry for something to praise our dear Lord Commander after a week of dodging questions on his behalf, the media jumped at this opportunity. It was like they began frantically browsing through Twitter for possible theories, and then based entire primetime debates on what they found — or didn’t find. For our news anchors, the tweets above turned out to be as inspiring as a poem by Rupi Kaur.
Because, hey, why tell reporters to follow up on a story before airing something when the Twitter junta is doing it for you, eh?
All you need to do is flash those tweets, assemble some guests to spout cowshit, and boom! Easy and cheap!
The Nation Knew in Five Minutes
Arnab Goswami started his on Republic TV by pointing out that PM Modi had published a sensational tweet just five minutes ago. "So why did he do it? Why is he quitting social media? Why?"
Immediately, his “political editor”, Aishwarya Kapoor of the , was ready with Abhishek Kapoor, their “executive editor”, to bounce around some theories. Abhishek straight up told everyone, “The safest conclusion would be that he’s so pained by social media being used to spread rumors and peddle mistruths.”
This was in reference to the Delhi riots, of course, in which 45 people have died.
This tweet story was so high-priority for Arnab that you could hear him instructing someone to drop everything else, get the guests to talk about it, and run the hashtag #PMtweet. And then minutes later, you could literally see from behind him.
Basically, within minutes of Modi's tweet, panelists were ready to debate — without any context of why he posted the tweet, what it meant, or anything at all, really.
The mind boggles sometimes at how this whole news entertainment phenomenon just unfurls.
Anyway, Arnab’s theory was, “The PM is making a statement here, that ‘I don’t need social media. I can live off social media but if my being on social media is only going to encourage social media to lie more about the communal situation, and lie about not taking action…having double standards about asking for accountability’ — then I think everybody in the country stands with the prime minister.”
But no, he didn’t stop there because Arnab's brainwaves emerge faster than Chacha Chaudhary's brain can formulate a thought.
He said Modi leaving social media completely destroys the credibility of all these social media companies. Some panelists chimed in and said it even vindicates Arnab’s own stand of personally keeping away from social media completely.
Because when you get a chance to casually praise the Loudspeaker-in-Chief, you must take it!
By the way, Arnab — who is the be-all and end-all of a news organisation called Republic Network —has a very active social media team that uses all platforms to promote their content. All news organisations do that and they definitely benefit from it. So why didn’t Republic just put out an official tweet saying they’re quitting social media too?
Evidently, in Arnab’s head, this is clearly the latest test of nationalism. A test that Republic TV clearly failed.
Taking this single line of argument, which went something like, “The prime minister had to quit social media to teach those blasted western power-controlled anti-India social media companies a lesson”, the entertainment slug-fest spiralled out of control.
Special mention goes to the most sensible person in the debate…Sambit Patra.Yep, Sambit “” Patra was actually sensible. He straight out told Arnab he has no clue about what is happening, hasn’t been briefed about the tweet, and since the PM has said, “will keep you all posted”, we should wait to see his explanation before commenting on it.
My reaction when I heard this can only be expressed in a GIF...
But hey, since so many Republic viewers seem to agree with the PM’s move, why not just continue with the theorising and curse Twitter for being biased, while simultaneously asking panelists to respond as to why Twitter is so biased. It’s just the worst!
For the rest of the show, we were graced with Arnab’s screaming questions like, “Answer me! Answer me! Why was #DelhiGenocide trending on Twitter?! WHY!?”
Classic Arnab. Republic even did a poll.
I voted yes, because this was a test and I am a true motherland-lover. Obviously.
Refreshing Twitter frantically
On Aaj Tak, Anjana Om Kashyap started at 10 pm, an hour after the earth-shattering tweet by Adarniya Modiji.
And this was the title:
Chaste Hindu translation: “A renunciation of social media?”
On this show, Sambit “” Patra was a little more prepared. He started off by repeating what he said on Republic TV, that we need to be patient to find out what is going on, but then he added something else to it.
“We can see that on these social media platforms — which the PM uses not for self-promotion but promoting the nation — national interest is reducing. There is an attack underway on national interest,” he observed.
Sambit went on to connect this tweet to “rumours” about violence in Delhi that circulated last weekend. On top of this, his main accusation was: “These platforms never host content which hurts the national interests of the UK and the US, but how are they allowed to do the same in India?”
Yes Patraji, how dare they? Why don’t they just shut down everyone who is critical of our who is the epitome of “national interest” and basically is the nation himself? I mean, do you ever see content on YouTube that insults the American president by calling him someone who came out of or the UK prime minister ? Of course not.
Meanwhile, on Anjana’s show, “senior journalist” Alok Mohta asked why the misuse of social media shouldn’t be curbed in a country like India which is basically full of illiterate impressionable people. He was like, “There are so many rumors! Why shouldn’t these naxal, anti-national, anti-desh, Pakistan-flag-wavers be punished?”
Anjana was like, “Cool. But let’s get back to rattling off the reactions that the PM’s sensational tweet is getting. Tell us please, Rohit!”
Yes. This was a big feature of her show where every 10 minutes, Rohit Sardana, who was standing in front of a giant screen, gave viewers important updates on Twitter reactions to the Hon’ble Prime Person’s mystery tweet.
The entire point of this show was to frantically keep refreshing Twitter and show this extremely difficult-to-execute activity to the illiterate people of India. It was accompanied by running commentary about how the trend #NoSir on Twitter indicated that the entire world did not want our Most Popular Universal Leader to quit social media. Aaj Tak clearly knows its viewers are incapable of checking Twitter themselves and come to their own conclusions.
What’s more, Aaj Tak kept its viewers updated on how the Lord Commander has so many more followers than other leaders like Arvind “Neo Hanuman Bhakt” Kejriwal and Rahul “Born To Be Young” Gandhi.
My daddy strongest! Yaay!
Anjana’s expression here says it all, to be honest.
Sudhir calling Sudhir
How can we not mention the wonderful theories Sudhir Chaudhary came up with in his on the night of the apocalyptic tweet?
In short, these were his theories:
Maybe, the PM wants to take a break from social media. This is called a “digital detox”. Whether this is a temporary break or a permanent one, that’s the question.
Maybe the PM is quitting because of the poisonous atmosphere on social media. In English, it’s called “toxic”. It’s like acid being thrown around by accounts.
Maybe the PM has acquired new technology, since he’s so tech-savvy and all. He might be planning to use that instead. Some technology that is even more futuristic than social media.
Maybe he’s going to make his accounts public. So that people can use them to talk to each other.
After 12 minutes of this — and repeating how he thinks these are the wonderful possibilities behind Most Honest Saint Modiji’s tweets — he took an ad break.
Now, before we continue, you have to understand two things. One, because when the media is fueled by ads, this is the kind of shitshow you’re served every single day. Second, Sudhir believes his audience has the memory of a goldfish.
I say this because after returning from the break, Sudhir’s theories suddenly transformed into “People are saying that these are the four possibilities why PM Modi has quit Twitter…”
People are saying? Which people, Sudhir? Are all the people called Sudhir, Sudhir? Anyway, Sudhir even responded to the theories that these “Sudhir people” were throwing around.
He said, “Those who know the PM closely know that he’s not a quitter. He’s a fighter. And when he fights, he doesn’t erase the line that other people have drawn, he draws a line that is longer than other people. That is what is happening here…”
In case you didn’t get the hint, “those who know the PM closely” means he is referring to himself. See for yourself.
Anyway, thank you for that insightful observation in response to your earlier insightful observations, Sudhir.
The funny thing about these news-entertainment channels is that they are all quite creative. In their struggle to stand out, while simultaneously toeing the line of the establishment, they have to come up with so many convoluted theories about even a single tweet. Every single night is a test of their creative skillz.
What we witnessed on Monday night was a bunch of anchors and their channels suddenly getting an alert on their earpieces at 9 pm that their Lord Commander has made a bizarre tweet. Their producer told them to do an impromptu show on it and, at the same time, keep finding new angles based on the two lines that the prime minister posted on Twitter.
Nobody told Arnab though. He does the ordering around in his kingdom. It’s not an easy task, clearly, but a highly amusing one.
You know what is not amusing? This shitshow was unfolding on the same day, with this about how the Delhi police actually aided in the humiliation, torture and subsequent death of a 23-year-old boy in Delhi. Zero coverage about that, of course.
Indian TV media is in the pits, and you better believe it.