You may know her as the unsung pun hero of local twitter or that girl who was just featured on BuzzFeed. In her personal sphere, Anjali is a 22-year-old Med student dabbling in embroidery and always providing us with relatable tweets in now 240 characters or less! Sometimes, the occasional article gets written about her, so I decided to ask to interview her for my all of ten readers, which she kindly agreed to.
1. When did you first join Twitter and start to enjoy using the platform?
I joined Twitter in 2011 when I was in grade 9. I didn’t really know what to do on it, but I got it because other people were talking about this new platform and celebrities were using it. I mainly interacted with my friends (replied to all my mentions, liked and retweeted everything). From the start, I used Twitter to express my sense of humour and things that I found funny. Most of the time other people didn’t find them funny, but I tweeted my puns and stupid jokes out anyway. I had about 200 followers back then and every time I got 4 or more RTs I was delighted. In 2015, when I started university, I decided to dedicate more time to social media (obviously a very appropriate time to do this). I remember always thinking that the popular people on (Muslim) Twitter who had 1000+ followers were unimaginably cool that I said to my friends one day, “I’m going to become part of Muslim Twitter.” I started following more people, and that’s what helped me gain a following. I’d say that the time I started aiming for that goal was when I really started enjoying Twitter as a platform. Although the character of my humour has shifted from being light-hearted and pun-based to being more self-deprecating, self-critical and reflective, the overall aim of my Twitter account has remained the same: I want to make people happier, even if they just crack a tiny smile at something stupid I’ve said.
[speaking as a member of Muslim Twitter, we are one hot mess]
2. How has the platform helped you grow as a person?
The biggest thing I’ve gained from Twitter is access to other people’s knowledge, opinions and perspectives. I’ve come to understand why Fees Must Fall, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+ rights, Me Too and every other big political movement is important because I have had the opportunity to read ordinary people’s real experiences. I have also learned to be observant of the injustices around me and be more open to the opinions and experiences I have as a millennial, woman, and medical student. I get a lot of comfort from Twitter, seeing that almost everything I struggle with is not unique to me, and thousands of other people on this platform are going through similar problems while supporting each other with humour and advice. I think the more I share, the more I can give that comfort and humour back to my followers.
[ at least we know the secret to her success and relatability now]
3. How do you balance the demands of your degree and maintain an online presence?
To be honest, Twitter is very often a source of procrastination for me. I’ve found myself scrolling through it while I’m supposed to be studying, and it is often during these moments that I come up with my most frequent and best tweets. However, Twitter has never solely gotten in the way of my pursuit of academic success because I am already an easily distracted person who will always find something that’ll sidetrack me. Adding on to that, tweeting is not a time-consuming action at all. I don’t dedicate time every day to think only about crafting tweets; instead, they are created in the form of sudden thoughts. I immediately spend 30 seconds making sure my thought is worded in a comprehensive and amusing way, and I either save it to be tweeted later or tweet it immediately. There has never been a need to balance demands because tweeting is not demanding to me at all.
[ we could all probably learn a thing or two in terms of time management and academic excellence from Anjali, me especially for that test I should be studying for]
4. Do you feel confident representing our country and local Twitter on such a global platform?
I don’t entirely see myself as a good representative for South Africa on Twitter, mainly because I am part of such a small minority. I’m Indian and a medical student, two things that most South Africans are not. If someone were to ask me to identify the best aspects of SA Twitter, I’d point them to every black person on there because black people are incredibly funny and encompass the true essence of SA spirit and culture. Black Twitter is definitely the fun portion of Twitter. I’ve learned a lot from South African black Twitter myself and I always laugh at their tweets (when they’re in English lolololol). I find Cape Town is a bit more relatable to me, and I think I fit in well with the local Twitter crowd (although I don’t have many friends on the platform). I’d feel more confident representing local Twitter. Overall, I just try to express my more general thoughts and experiences as a student, a person in their 20s, a person of colour, et cetera. I do this so that I can appeal to and be relatable to more people.
[As a fellow South African Indian woman, I thank you for your representation of us]
5. Which of your tweets did you never expect to go viral and why?
I never expect any of my tweets to go viral, to be honest. When one of them does I’m always so surprised. Sometimes I’ll craft a tweet and put a lot of effort into wording it just right and I think, “This is hilarious, it’s definitely going to go viral.” Those ones never do. Instead, it’s always the ones that require minimal thought and effort that blow up. I’ve never understood why that is and I never will, but such is the unpredictable nature of virality.
[It never is the tweets we think it will be]
6. How does your family feel about the fame surrounding you?
The thing is, I’m not famous because no one recognises me in person and my popularity on Twitter doesn’t impact my life in a way that my family would recognise. Therefore, they don’t have any strong feelings about my Twitter “fame”. Sometimes they’ll ask me how many followers I currently have, and when I tell them they’re temporarily in awe, but the conversation moves on swiftly. My cousins sometimes talk about my Twitter, but again, it’s never a big deal to me.
[ I can’t imagine how many times your tweets have ended up as WhatsApp stories]
7. Do you often get dragged for being a “Tweleb” by your friends?
I do, all the time. My friends Azrah and Hoosain exaggerate how “famous” I am at least once a day and talk about how they want to meet Kanye West through me, stuff like that. When someone else mentions in person that I’m popular on Twitter, I know that as soon as that person walks away I’m going to get dragged. I won’t lie, it’s pretty funny when they do that and I always fail to keep a straight face.
[when you do meet Kanye, please ask him to stop designing whatever he has been tweeting lately, for the greater good, we need you!]
8. Is there now a pressure to always be tweeting relatable and popular content?
Sometimes. I go through phases where I can come up with lots of good tweets every day for weeks, but other times life becomes stressful and busy and I struggle to think of something good to tweet. I often start to panic if I can’t come up with a good tweet, but I try to draft at least one per day to maintain my account and give people a reason to keep following me.
[She’s human too guys!]
9. When can we expect Anjali merch (I am not kidding)?
Probably never! If anyone is interested, I do embroidery as a hobby and take custom orders. I’ll have a website soon (www.anjalaaay.com) through which you can place orders.
[ I am counting on all ten of my readers to support Anjali’s future endeavours and yes, I made the same joke twice. Life is tough.]
10. What would you like to say to the people who have supported you and watched you grow over the years?
I really want to be humble, but I might not sound humble when I say this, so please excuse me for a moment. I would like to say thank you to everyone who has followed me, taken the time to read any of my tweets and allowed me to have some impact on their emotional state (hopefully only positive!). There are people who have been following me since 2015, and some even before that. You guys are really the best. I’ve learned so much from all of you over the years, and I will always try to contribute to the pool of humorous and relatable content on Twitter because it is you guys whom I want to make happy. I love Twitter because it’s filled with thousands of amazing people and countless opportunities for growth that I’m so grateful for. So, in essence, thank you for following me and I hope you will continue enjoying my tweets!
I’d like to conclude by thanking Anjali for her time and insight. I hope you had as much fun answering these questions as I did making them. I cannot wait to see you enjoy unbridled success in the future.
Lastly, I will leave a list of Anjali’s greatest hits.