To Tweet or not to Tweet? That is the question a lot of people should be asking before releasing that little blue bird into the never-ending black hole of the internet. A recent article by Mark Bernheimer from the July 2014 edition of Tactics discussed just how quickly one’s life can spiral out of control with just a few characters posted via social media.
Let’s first talk about why so many of us enjoy using social media platforms, such as Twitter. Whether you are a famous actor, musician, politician or an average Joe, Twitter can be an easy way to communicate directly to the public. According to Bernheimer, “Twitter’s value proposition turned out to be its liability: Tweeting is effortless, and successful communication usually demands effort.” Twitter caters to raw emotion, something that can usually be cooled down if necessary prior to a scheduled media interview.
Bernheimer’s point: People may communicate differently with 140 characters and a keyboard versus professional lighting, makeup, and TV cameras – for better or worse.
Well-known “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak sent out the tweet, “I now believe global warming alarmists are unpatriotic racists knowingly misleading for their own ends.” Sajak probably wouldn’t have said this sitting down in front of a reporter. Another example is when Minnesota Rep. Pat Garofalo tweeted, “Let’s be honest, 70 percent of teams in the NBA could fold tomorrow, and nobody would notice a difference, with the exception of the increase in street crime.” Soon after the release of this tweet, there were a lot of negative reactions, and as a result Garofalo publicly apologized for his offensive tweet. This isn’t the best strategy for increasing one’s political presence and reputation.
What can we learn from these examples? Be careful what you tweet; once those 140 characters are released into the internet, there is no getting them back. It takes only seconds for tweets to be liked, shared and talked about. The Tactics article gave a very useful tip when it comes to tweeting: treat Twitter like you would a reporter, not your personal diary. Remember that ill-mannered jokes, comments and crude remarks are no more appropriate for Twitter than they are for the evening news.