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?