July 30, 2023
My first experience on social media was blogging. Actually it hurts to call blogging that : writing, maintaining and curating a blog is a profound activity of self cultivation, that is so different from what social media has become – the very idea of Twitter as a microblog has built into it an idea of reductionism.
At first, I avoided getting into any kind of social media. I didn’t have an account on Twitter till I was 27. Till then, for 5 or 6 years, I had maintained a blog, and honestly, doing this had allowed me to grow and develop my mind, and build the ‘seeds’ of ideas that I continue to explore in my academic and writing career till today.
A year or two after I first got on to Twitter, I discovered ‘Sikh Twitter’. This was mostly accidental, when I came across a thread by TrueIndology attacking (in his cunning, indirect way) Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who was even then my personal hero.
On and off, for the five or so years since then, I have participated in debates and arguments (sometimes literally so) related to various subjects, and while I have learned quite a lot from some very intelligent people, I had realised about a year or two ago, that ultimately the ‘cost’ was too high.
The main difference between social media microblogging and real blogging is ultimately the matter of noise. Take this particular post. Who am I writing this for? While I would appreciate a reader : the purpose of writing has always been for me to organise my mind, get rid of thoughts which are cluttering my thinking (writing is a sort of exorcism), and from this, draw out seeds of ideas that I can build something more longlasting.
I have to be honest, Twitter has never really allowed me to do that. Simply because as a user, you do not operate on any microblog platform as a continuously cohesive mind : the noise of social media penetrates directly into your mind/brain patterns. You lose your sense of individuality, both in terms of thinking and your identity.
Social media is the ultimate postmodernist tool : it deconstructs the individual and reduces you into a type. I am only saying this because I have experienced this. But luckily quite late in my life compared to most people today.
Some good things did come out of my social media experience. Particularly this identity (Sial Mirza Goraya) which has sort of become something in itself, but allowed me to create a very useful mental channel of sorts; I do believe each aspect of our intellectual pursuits contributes to each other, but also needs an internal organisation that such channelisation can provide – sort of like having different notebooks for different subjects.
I’ve only always maintain a sort of thin curtain between my ‘real’ identity and smg (but who’s to say what’s more real); but in the last few days, some experiences (nothing with me) have left me feeling that it’s time to develop a closer synergy between all my creative and scholarly pursuits. And considering the direction Twitter is going in as X.dot.com : I can definitely say it is not the right place to practice what I hope to achieve in the next phase of my life.
So, I will be returning to this : good old fashion blogging. On Twitter, I have met some great people as well, don’t get me wrong. And some really awesome projects have come out of the intellectual relationships I’ve made (especially Khalsa Chronicle on Substack; my Kisan Podcast with Amaan Bali, among others).
Now, looking into the future, however, it is time to move on. And Return. Honestly, I am not lamenting the death of social media. Because I genuinely believe we are going to witness a return of the blog. And I’m all for it.
If you are interested in staying in touch, from now on I will be using this blog to share my personal thoughts, my Substack Newsletter for Sikh Civilisation related writing, and Instagram + Threads for general outreach, media, etc. I also think Substack Notes really works well as a better, ideas rich social media experience. And hope to begin using that a lot more. These are all forms of social media of course but I think they lack a particular id-affecting quality of Twitter, which, as X, now also increasingly looking compromised.
If you do follow me on any of these platforms, looking forward to great conversations. May you live long and prosper.