Twitter, a Madhouse Where Brazilians Are as Crazy as Anybody Else

Danilo Gentili on TwitterAccessing the Internet is becoming as much a routine as brushing your teeth first thing in the morning. While we sleep the world keeps happening and if it happens it must be a record of it in a news portal or some blog.

Famous people seem to die first on the Internet. A shameful situation involving a celebrity takes on an air of tragedy first on the Internet. And if you think a little, the Internet is to the 21st century what the old lady’s gossip was to the first half of the 20th century.

Everyone one in the street knew everything: at what time the guy came home drunk, carried by whom, how he was received by his family. Today everyone knows in no time that adman Nizan Guanaes has been badmouthing Bahia, the Chiclete com Banana band and knows Xuxa was rude with those who dared to question the command of the mother tongue by her daughter Sacha.

With two or three more clicks, we also know that Brazil lost Zilda Arns and the world a Citizen of the World, with a degree and all, in the recent earthquake in Haiti.

Actually the old lady’s (why not old man’s?) gossip would not be able to deal with so much new stuff to comment on. Brazil is a country which is increasingly being connected reaching all social classes. Rather than get lost in the huge floods of São Paulo, what about drowning a little … in numbers?

Well, Brazil had 64.8 million Internet users according to the Ibope Nielsen Online in July 2009, an increase of 2.5 million people when compared to the previous month. In June 2008, the Ibope/NetRatings accounted for 41.5 million people, not including public access (Internet cafés, libraries, schools and telecenters), which now has been added to the job and home access.

Brazil is the fifth largest country in number of connections to the Internet. In urban areas, 44% of the population is connected to the Internet: 97% of the companies and 23.8% of Brazilian households are connected to the Net.

Never Before in This Country …

And never so much content was produced, so much information was accessible to as large a population as in today’s world. We are not an island of connectivity emerging on the high seas of the technological world. The phenomenon is global and more than ever we are one planet and one people connected and in the process of being connected.

The proof is that it is expected that in 2013 the total number of people “connected” to the Internet will surpass the 2 billion mark, more precisely about 2.2 billion, meaning a 45% increase, according to Forrester Research.

This big jump is mainly due to new users from Asia, with China accounting for 17% of the global online population. Africa and Middle East also add a slice of 13%. It encompasses all age groups. But the young Brazilians can say with all the letters they are “linked”.

Here, the slang “tá ligado” (is high or you know) could very well be replaced by “tá conectado” (it’s connected) without changing the meaning of the friendly expression left over from the last years of the past century.

This is because a survey conducted in 12 countries, showed that Brazilian adolescents may on average spend 70 hours a month in front of a monitor browsing the World Wide Web. That’s the way he stays informed about his team, follows the serials, reads newspapers, listens to the radio, watch the most interesting videos or those causing a sensation. Besides, he drags to his computer music and movies, photos and cartoons.

Adults in the Net

What not only young people but also adults in general do most of the time is to create social relationships exposing themselves on the virtual storefront, presenting themselves as so and so, looking for friendship or something more, discovering where have been their childhood, high school, college and work friends.

This is the reason why millions of people sign up on sites like Facebook, Orkut, Hi5, LinkedIn, MSN. Once entered they rush to seek their gang, people they have affinities and common tastes, perceptions, lifestyles.

We live then in a ” brave new world.”  A world not even Aldous Huxley who coined the phrase as the title of his most famous book could have guessed. In the midst of all this blogs have grown more than wild mushrooms. Everyone has something to say about himself or about what other people think. And they expect someone will comment their thoughts.

Chirps on the Web

The big news of this century is called Twitter (series of chirps). This is something more than a relationship social tool. Its creator Evan Williams believes microblogging brings dynamism to the user and the possibilities are immense and diverse. To be checked.

As I don’t want to find out ten years later that the man stepped on the moon I also don’t want to be the latecomer who gets into a wave when it has lost much of its momentum, always creative, always surprising, always with a taste of the future. That’s why two months ago I joined Twitter.

The rules are quite simple, it’s like the social networks Esperanto: texts of up to 140 characters including spaces, ability to follow the lives of other people signed on the system and also to be monitored. There are concepts like “follower” (of someone) and “followed” (by someone), we can forward to “our followers” the cool text we find and get, occasionally, a comment from someone about something we commented on Twitter.

The use of microblog was soon incorporated into the journalistic activity. Newspapers and magazines, TV stations, journalists, writers, besides the indefectible celebrities started using this tool. For some it is an exercise in vanity to say how many “followers” they have. And there’s narcissism in abundance.

Many texts are to say that it’s time to go to bed because it was a tiresome day. Others take the opportunity to deify their political preferences and demonize their foes. And there are also the lists. A newspaper that is followed by a list means that it is “tracked” by those who sign the list. It is a multiplier effect.

Twitter’s Audience

I present the reader with the numbers of followers of some newspapers and magazines and a number of renowned journalists, mentioning also how many lists follow them: O Globo (29,946 followers, 1,104 lists), Folha de S. Paulo (43,806, 1,793 lists), Estado de S. Paulo (14,406, 701 lists), Jornal do Brasil (3623, 194 lists).

Now for the magazines on Twitter: Veja (119,912 followers, 3,250 lists), Época (22,304, 1,058 lists), Carta Capital (17,803, 879 lists) and Isto É (6805, 280 lists).

Other vehicles also draw attention: Observatório da Imprensa (13,752 followers, 785 lists), BBC Brazil (24,046, 1,169 lists).

How is the performance of some of the most famous Brazilian journalists who are on Twitter? Globo TV’s anchorman, William Bonner (335,624 followers, lists 8004), Veja’s Diogo Mainardi (12,617 followers, 184 lists), Josias’s Blog (505, 31 lists), Ricardo Kotscho (100, 5 lists), Ricardo Noblat (24,700, 1136 lists).

No need for panic! Some are already working Twitter for years, months, while others only a few weeks or days. And in this case time is crucial to have a strong or weak presence on Twitter. Those who can be seen in leading open TV shows get an overwhelming advantage. The same for those who write in newspapers and magazines with national circulation.

Question of Style

It is common for the media and its practitioners to present news headlines and titles of their stories and provide a short hypertext so people can access the full content of the story. William Bonner, anchor of Jornal Nacional (Globo TV) doesn’t do this, he makes friends, is light in the comments, deals with his everyday life and always seems cheerful and in good mood. Some examples:

** “Holy God? How is it that are so many people in this stuff at this time? I just came here to download photos from the trip instead of tossing and turning in bed.” (1/22/2010)

** “All my nephews, as you all know, Rejuvenescer (Rejuvenate) is written like that – not as your uncle here did, only with the C, right? Y’all will forgive me, I hope.” (1/21/2010)

Danilo Gentili, the young master of stand up comedy is one of the masters of Twitter. He is followed by 518,233 and 8,374 lists. The following are some of the comedian’s best twitterings:

** “Sao Paulo Fashion Week began. The prophecy of Joseph of Egypt finally comes into being: the time of the lean cows arrived.”

** “Otávio Mesquita went in my show today and said ‘Danilo, when I started my career I was like you.’ I told him, ‘Please, don’t discourage me.'”

** “To all I wish Merry Christmas … And to those who are watching the Xuxa special I send my condolences.”

** “Beware you who keep following me: If you don’t stop I’ll call the police.”

What’s so funny?

My daughter Lara, 11, asked me what is Twitter. I explained that it was something like the courtyard of a madhouse: everyone talks to himself and once in a while someone responds … She smiled and asked, “But dad, what’s the fun of it?” I replied that I did not know yet precisely, that I was testing this social network that seems to always be on a diet: the texts are short, the returns are scarce and the environment is alluring to those who have acid or sarcastic humor, typical of those who prefer to lose a friend but not the twitter, or rather the joke.

After about 60 days screaming in the yard, I find out that I’m being followed by more than a hundred other madmen. These are always friendly, quite gentle and even go so far as to become friends, with expressions of affection and all the rest.

Those who don’t follow us but visit us occasionally, will never realize that we are (all) on the same cuckoo’s nest.

Washington Araújo is a journalist, a writer and a master in communication by UnB (Brasília University). He created the blog Cidadão do Mundo (World’s Citizen) –; and can be followed on Twitter:


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