Wherever the Lebanese go, they transform the space they occupy into a replica high school system. The high school system is a very intricate social construct; it comprises many levels of authority, bullying, power, submission, passiveness and camaraderie, among many other complicated relationships. You can say it’s a microcosm in itself.
The Lebanese Twittersphere is just another high school system where you will find all of the types of characters that you knew during high school: the golden girl/super boy, the king and queen of snobs, the flirty, the brainiac, the hipster, the punk, the knave of snobs. You will also find the heavy metal dude, the Mr./Ms. Giggles, the outcast, the nobody, the clueless, the boy/girl crazy, and the idealist to name but a few. On Twitter, the alpha male and the alpha female reign supreme, and according to Wikipedia, “the social group will often follow the alphas into every activity.” Is this is a coincidence?
When a person first joins twitter, it’s like moving to a new high school with all of its cliques already set in stone. You look around, and you find “tweeps” @ing each other back and forth. You feel alienated and that you want out and back to your comfort zone . Coming fresh from Facebook and boasting 16 followers, you try to make friends and to mingle. However, chances are you will not receive a reply when you initiate interaction with some of the Twitter “superstars” because the number of followers you have basically defines your existence on Twitter. If your followers exceed a three digit number, then this automatically assigns you the status of interesting, funny, and a hot cake to be “safely” followed. What does safety have to do with it? Well, it is unsafe for a hipster’s reputation, for instance, to follow a nobody who has managed to lure only 20 followers to his Time Line’s net. Now, some wannabe Twitter social climber (Tsc), desperate to collect as many followers as possible and thus to augment his high school hierarchical status, would actually follow an outcast, a boy crazy, or a clueless for a while, and after the latter has followed him back, the Tsc would sneakily unfollow keeping the number of people he follows to the lowest possible level. He would sleep well that night feeling “virtually” satisfied that he is finally somebody to reckon with in this addictive digital world.
I’m sure you can see the resemblance between the Twitter dynamic and the high school dynamic. The tension, the slyness, the friendships, the peer pressure. However, and here lies the beauty of it, Twitter comes packaged with one unfollow and another block button, and this is how this social network tops the real life social network of hormone-pumped teenagers. You don’t have to tolerate the bullies, you don’t have to listen to boring conversations, and you don’t have to make friends with a preset group of people.
Your account, your rules.