I clearly remember a conversation with Kareena Kapoor in 2009.
While talking to me, she revealed unwittingly that she had set up a Google alert in her name. This meant that the actress got daily alerts about ‘news’ that mentioned her.
Of course, it also meant that she got bombarded with all sorts of news and gossip that apparently horrified her early in the morning. She told me much later that she had discontinued the Google alert because “baseless gossip saddened her”.
A few months later, Kareena reacted strongly to a comment made by filmmaker Pritish Nandy on Twitter, prompting another barb from Pritish. The war of words soon subsided as both lapsed into dignified silence.
I just hope that the two have become friends, though it seems unlikely. Maybe, if Kareena had signed up on Twitter, the patch-up would have been much faster and easier.
If I go by the list of official Twitter handles and Facebook accounts, then there are quite a few stars who have been steadfast in their resolve, refusing to join the sites.
Among the prominent names who have shunned Twitter or Facebook are Kareena Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Rani Mukerji, Imran Khan (he deleted his official account) and Vidya Balan.
There are several reasons why these actors have chosen to stay off social media. The reasons ranges from, ‘It’s a waste of time’ to ‘I am not comfortable sharing my personal life with the public.’
I wrote about it sporadically and then one day, we all stopped writing about why some stars chose not to be on social media.
It’s a dead topic now.
It struck me a some years ago when a leading actress appeared quite updated with the fresh postings on Twitter during an interaction with me.
I went to meet with the actress in Delhi while she was promoting an event. The brand had arranged for a meeting and I had gone to meet the star-actress in her hotel suite.
I was asked to wait in the living area of the presidential suite while the actress was still in the midst of a meeting with a few people from the company in the adjacent room. The doors were open and I could clearly see what the actress was doing in the other room.
The actress was checking her phone frequently and intently.
I was also constantly checking my Twitter account on my Blackberry. It so happened that on that day a journalist living in the US had written something about a Khan and the whole Twitter-universe was going nuts over it.
The star’s name was also trending worldwide.
Fifteen minutes later, while talking to me, the actress inadvertently mentioned the name of the actor trending on Twitter while answering a question. It immediately struck me.
“How do you know he is trending on Twitter?”
“I just saw him trending.”
But the trend just appeared on the map and…err…
you are not on Twitter?”
“Yes, I am not on Twitter”.
“Then how did you come to know about the trend?”
“I check Twitter through my friend’s account.”
“You check your friend’s twitter account on your phone?”
“No, my phone (the actress smiled)…. Okay. Come on, I am on Twitter, but I won’t reveal the Twitter id. I check everybody’s tweets as a normal person.”
“Can I know your handle?”
“No, I haven’t even told my publicist about my Twitter handle.”
Then I started asking everybody the same question in subsequent interviews: “Are you updated about what’s happening on Twitter, Facebook?”
The answers I got were startling.
Some admitted to it, some did not. And it became clear that the stars that we think are not on social networking sites… are all there.
They know what’s happening there, and keep checking Twitter/Facebook from their smartphones too.
The only difference is that: They have chosen not to have a verified account on the social networking sites.
Till date I have found only one star, who is really not on any social networking site and doesn’t really have an account.
For the rest, they are there Tweeting and Facebooking along with you. Only you might not know who they actually are.
Now the question arises, why do they shy away from opening a verified account on Twitter or Facebook?
The answer is: It’s because of the abuse.
Off the record, most admitted that they were horrified with the way a section of fans or trolls attack Bollywood stars. During candid chats, some of actors admitted that they are horrified with the kind of abuse that Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan are subjected to on Twitter frequently.
Shah Rukh Khan, till date, has taken a couple of sabbaticals from Twitter, after being subjected to abuse.
There are times when SRK and Aamir shun Twitter because of the “negative energy” thrown at them by some faceless, nameless Twitter trolls. I remember writing an article on that too.
Each time an abuse targeted to a specific star trends, these stars renew their vow to camouflage themselves on social networking sites.
Maybe we could have had a lot more stars interacting socially on the sites, had there not been so many anti-social elements there.
All photos taken off social networking sites and used solely for illustrative purposes. Kindly let me know if any of the photographs are copyrighted and it will be taken off.