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31 July 2017

We live in a pretty weird world. I recently read a newspaper report about two of South Africa’s most famed celebrities. I’ve never heard of them before. But apparently they are (or were, if you believe the report) SA’s most famous couple. Celebrity break-ups are nothing new, of course. What did intrigue me was the fact that the essence of this report seemed to have been based on, well…

Twitter. Apparently the couple has a combined Twitter following of 1.5 million. It went like this: the male subject posted a tweet, effectively questioning his other half’s intentions. The other half, who was in the USA at the time of said tweet, replied with a sarcastic tweet which she tagged as #atweetforatweet. She backed that up with a meme with the message ‘But why?’ Still, this happens on Twitter. Apparently. But here’s the intriguing bit: the news reporter ‘established’ that the male subject ‘blocked’ his female companion on Twitter after the #atweetforatweet business. This, said the reporter, was confirmed by an app called DoesFollow and the couple are no longer friends on Twitter.

So the couple’s personal issues played out on social media. And a social media app seems to have ruled that their relationship is over, too. If there is one Twitter user who has shoved the social media platform back into the limelight it is Donald J Trump, the United States president. Apparently his predecessor Barack Obama became the first president to be allowed to carry a cellphone on his person. But it took many years of campaigning to convince his security minders – it had always been considered a threat to the president’s safety – so an aide carried the phone.  Trump has taken this recently acquired smartphone freedom to new levels by using Twitter to express his (supposedly) personal views about rather sensitive issues. With 30 million followers, his tweets have caused major ruckus, and probably caused his press secretary to a cocktail mix of anti-depressants and whisky.

Some of our own politicians have also being going through the Twitter mill. Our newly appointed finance minister Malusi Gigaba’s personal dramas have been playing out – for all to see – on Twitter. A war of tweets between his wife and what is said to be a former mistress has certainly not boosted confidence that our country’s finances are in great hands. What is this whole Twitter business
then? Well, it’s both a news source, and social media platform. A news tweet about North Korea launching a missile can be followed by a tweet about AB de Villiers’ new cricket bat to a photo of what your granny had for breakfast. Anything really. American market-research company Pear Analytics apparently analysed 2 000 tweets (US and UK-based) over a two-week period in 2009, and came up with the following breakdown: 40% of tweets are pointless babble; 38% are conversational; 9% of the tweets had pass-along value; 6% were self promotion; 4% were spam; and 4% were news. Of course, users choose who and what they want to follow (hence receive tweets from). So a user can choose just news, or follow a celebrity or sportsperson, follow the latest Hollywood gossip, check the latest sport scores – the list goes on and on.

Some background information on Twitter, in case you’ve – like some of us – been slow to catch onto this modern social phenomenon. The first tweet was sent in 2006, and today 320 million people around the world subscribe to Twitter. Twitter’s revenue is said to have been $2.56 billion last year. Twitter has created some unique phrases, too. There’s even a Twitter dictionary. The collective Twitter community is referred to as being part of the ‘Twitterverse’. A fight on Twitter has been described as a ‘twar’. Using a hashtag (#) lets fellow Twitter users follow a certain subject. This is called ‘twifusion’. Which brings me to the point of order: the Leisure Wheels Twitter account:  @LeisurewheelsZA.

We fall more under the 4% news category, and not the 40% pointless babble one. We’ll do some behind-the-scenes updates on our latest trips and project vehicles, and vehicle launches, too. If you’re a Twitter user, go and have a peek at what we’re up to. If you’re completely au fait with this alternative reality world they call social media, also check out our brand-new Instagram account: leisurewheels_4×4mag, for some unique behind the scenes photos and info. Instagram is a bit like Twitter, but it revolves more around photos and videos. Users post a photo or video, with a short description. Anything goes: from a photo of Kim Kardashian’s buttocks to your cousin’s first attempt at a casserole to live video broadcasts from celebrities we’ve never heard of before. Again, the user gets to choose who or what to follow.

Instagram is owned by social media kingpin Facebook, and has more than double the amount of users as Twitter: 700 million people around the world use it. There are themed days like Throwback Thursday (where you post an old photo), or Women Crush Wednesdays. We’ll stick to motoring adventure photos, we reckon. And leave Kardashian buttocks to whomever likes to observe such matters. So there you have it – please join us as we twit and gram and book some interesting adventure motoring content. Apparently, it’s the way of the future.