Tweet, well maybe I will

My seeming reluctance to dive into Twitter leads me to reminisce about college. When I was at Vassar in the 90s, we had a campus wide instant messenger called Broadcast. It was the way to communicate. Of course you had to be at your computer to do use it, and at the time it was “totally uncool” to walk around with a cell phone-imagine! Broadcast entered my life and expanded my network in a way I never could. Shy by nature, it was so hard for me to make friends my freshman year, but my digitally mediated self was witty, insightful, and far more approachable than I.R.L.

Now flash-forward more than ten years, and my relationship with social media is far more complicated because of my privacy concerns.  Whereas before I’d Broadcast the entire campus to find out where the next kegger was or to comment on a Women’s Studies class discussion, now I’m hesitant to reveal too much about what I do when I’m away from work let alone reveal my political beliefs. It’s funny how adulthood has caused me to become so uptight. Sometimes I really miss the 90’s.

But I think my concerns are valid. Even the simplest Tweet can land you in hot water at work if it violates your employer’s social media policy. Take for example what happen to Scott Bartosiewicz’s from New Media Strategies, an ad agency who handles the Chrysler Twitter account.  Frustrated by traffic, Bartosiewicz’s tweeted, “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to (expletive) drive.” I think we can all figure out which expletive he used. Bartosiewicz meant to post the message to his personal account (violation of his company’s social media policy?), and yet he sent it to @ChryslerAutos, Chrysler’s brand feed. The fallout from this incident is widespread, and I think it’s a cautionary tale we should note.

You see, this is the type of situation I want to avoid at all costs. Am I paranoid? Well yes, of course I am because I know myself.  I could very easily get carried away and post, quote, link, or retweet something that will misrepresent me and possibly haunt me FOREVER personally and professionally. Yet after reading Mark Sample, Jessica Faye Carter, and David Carr’s articles, I’m starting to question why I’m letting my fear and paranoia prevent me from participating in what Sample calls the “Twitter Happening.” Why not become socially engaged in the intercultural/cross-cultural, political, and societal dialogues that are taking place amongst Twitter’s users? Because if Twitter is a happening, I surely don’t want to miss out on a seminal, cultural, and generational event. How totally uncool would that be?


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  1. #1 by Brianni on March 20, 2011 - 2:07 pm

    I think your paranoia as you call it, isn’t entirely invalid, especially given the company you work for. I on the other hand work for a smaller company and can say with certainty that no one else is using Twitter. However, this still doesn’t change the fact that my page is private and that I would still never mention a boss, coworker, or the company by name. With age comes wisdom (hopefully), so you/we can put ourselves in an advantageous position if we use social media but still recognize that it’s a transparent medium.

  2. #2 by juliekirchem on March 21, 2011 - 3:35 am

    Yvonne, I can relate to how you feel about jumping into Twitter. I recently had an incident on Facebook where I posted an article about religion (I knew better) and someone posted back that the article was offensive. I really didn’t want to offend anyone but I did. I think I may use Twitter as an information stream and keep my opinions out of it. I don’t realize sometimes that when I post on FB, there are people reading it who have different political and religious beliefs. This conversation about Twitter has caused me to re-evaluate how I use social media and for me, that’s a good thing.

  3. #3 by John Kay on March 21, 2011 - 11:45 am

    Yvonne, back in the 1980s, we opened a cautious eye toward Big Brother. It sounds like Big Brother is more than the government; rather, Big Brother includes corporations and their policies, such as those regarding social media. New technologies have the potential for good and the potential for abuse. Perhaps you have heard the advice to live as though the world is watching so that when it does you’ll be ready. I heard that long before the hatching of Twitter.

  4. #4 by T.J.Griffin on March 21, 2011 - 3:25 pm

    I think this is a very valid point, you do have to be very aware of what you post online. The digital world does affect our everyday life. I think people need to be aware not only how something will affect them but how it will affect others. People do tend to have a different online personality. They become more bold, and confident. They will say things that they would never say to someones face. This leads to people doing things they would not do in real life.

  5. #5 by Tameka on March 21, 2011 - 6:28 pm

    I will agree that your “paranoia” as you call it isn’t entirely unwarranted. However, communication tools like Twitter are the purview of the people who use them and as such subject to the tweeter/follower’s discretion. Hence if someone is offended by a tweet they are well within their right to un-follow the offending tweeter. And frankly I think it should end there. Though I certainly understand why the Chrysler ad guy was fired I do wonder if he would have bee so severely censured had he sent the tweet from his personal Twitter handle. I’m pretty certain he would and I don’t think that’s fair. Yes, as an employee, one is, by default, a representative of their employer. Hence one would be well advised to tweet with caution. However I find the requirement to requirement to relinquish our thoughts, opinions and yes frustrations immediately upon employment particularly intrusive. Fight the power!

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