Tag Archives: twitter

It’s Like This and Like That and Like This

Christmas is over.  Time to rant.

This has bothered me all year.  Maybe even longer.  This is so dumb.  This needs to stop.

What?  I told you.  This.

I cannot STAND when someone chooses to share something that someone else has posted on social media, specifically Twitter, and just writes, “This.”  As if to say, “this is something I enjoyed/agree with/want you to see or read.”  But instead, they just write, “This.”

Guess what?  You don’t have to do that!  I know you like it.  You know how?  I have ESP.  No, actually, I know you like it because you shared it.  If you share a link without explicitly saying that you find it vile or disgusting or awful, then your endorsement is implied.  You don’t even need to say, “I liked this,” but you can.  You most certainly do not need to write “this.”

Yes, this.  That.  What you just shared.  I get it.

Of course, there is always to possibility that someone would agree with me and share this post prefaced with a “This.”  And to that I say…well played.


The Harder They Fall

The big thing on the internet and social media over the last few days was the story of Justine Sacco, a public relations director who posted a tweet that got her into a little bit of hot water.  Okay, a lot of hot water.  She was getting on a flight from London to South Africa, and she tweeted the following:

“Going to Africa.  Hope I don’t get AIDS.  Just kidding. I’m white!”

Oh boy.

The tweet caught the attention of, well, everyone, and Sacco was bombarded with angry responses.  Unfortunately for the virtual lynch mob, Sacco was on a plane and couldn’t see the tweets.  This fact spawned the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet, which is how I caught wind of the whole thing.

Needless to say, Sacco was fired by her employers.  Whether her account has that infamous “these are my thoughts, not those of So-and-So, Inc.” disclaimer or not, there is almost certainly language in her contract that allows her to be terminated for making the company look stupid.  And any company with someone on the payroll who says something like that publicly looks pretty stupid.

At its core, I don’t have a problem with her losing her job; she said something horrifically offensive and her employers didn’t like it.  My issue is with the aforementioned virtual lynch mob; as bad as racism is, I think mob rule is pretty awful, too.

(This is where I might venture into “Unpopular Opinion” territory.)

Why is it that everyone with a Twitter or Facebook account is suddenly a judge, jury, and executioner?  Who are we to impose our moral code in the most impersonal manner possible on people we don’t even know?  As terrible as her comment may have been, isn’t it also a bad sign that a collection of random people – however right they might be – can get someone fired, humiliated, and possibly eternally ruined simply because they made a mistake?

Bullying is a topic du jour, especially with the anonymity and distance that the internet and social media can provide…well, isn’t this kind of like bullying?  Aren’t these people ganging up on someone for their own enjoyment?  Don’t tell me it’s to effect change in the world; AIDS and racism aren’t going to disappear just because one woman got fired, and if you honestly believe they might, shut off your computer or your phone and spend a couple days in the real world.

No, the folks that created this firestorm did it to punish someone whose actions they disagreed with.  Except, as far as I can tell, no crime was committed, and the Twitter Police aren’t an actual law enforcement agency.  This was vigilante justice, plain and simple.  I thought we’re supposed to be better than that.

Surely Sacco will pawn her comment off as a very poor joke, or maybe some sort of social commentary.  And maybe it actually was; she wasn’t able to defend or explain herself at 30,000 feet in the air, and by the time #JustineLanded, it was too late for it to make a difference.

And that’s my problem with the mob mentality.  Let those among us who have never said anything they regret to pick up the first stones, and let those who never had a chance to defend or redeem themselves be the first to throw them.

But then people like Justine Sacco would be able to get a second chance and wouldn’t have one public mistake dictate the course of the rest of their lives.

And that’s no fun, now is it?

Watch Out, It’s Dog Eat Dog

I read an interesting little piece today from ESPN.com’s Dana O’Neil.  She is a member of the advisory board at the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism at Penn State, and she shared her contribution to the center’s monthly commentary via her Twitter account.

The gist of her entry is that journalism’s worst enemy these days is journalists.  On the surface, that doesn’t make any sense, but the truth is, she has a point.

In today’s climate, everyone rushes to have a story first as opposed to having a story right.  If you visit O’Neil’s employer on any given weekday afternoon, you will see the headlines box on the right side of the page.  Most of the stories begin with the same words: “Sources” or “Report.”  Rarely is there a story that makes its first appearance as confirmed fact and not a report from a source.

Twitter, for all its positives, is probably the genesis of this.  While the 24-hour-news cycle brought on by the spreading of the internet started the ball rolling, Twitter is the oil slick that sent it careening down the mountain.  It’s unfortunate, but it’s true: the more easily someone is able to share something they’ve “learned” or “heard,” the more likely they are to share incorrect information in a rush to be the first one to share anything at all.

And it’s not malicious; it’s not like these respected journalists are lying to people, they’re just sharing what they know as soon as they know it.  The difference is that Walter Cronkite wouldn’t break into your television show unless he knew something; 2013’s writers just have to type a few sentences into their phone and thousands of people will do the disseminating for them.

O’Neil talks about writers tearing each other down.  It sounds to me like she’s accusing her fellow journalists of turning into your standard, run-of-the-mill message board trolls who fire up their computers with the sole purpose of insulting someone who disagrees with them.  It’s a shame, but that’s another pitfall of the internet age: just because you can fire off a snarky tweet or blog post, doesn’t mean you have to.  Not that journalists have anonymity on the web, but the detachment provided by the internet serves sort of like “beer muscles” that lower their inhibitions; I guarantee that the kind of in-fighting and airing of “dirty laundry” O’Neil mentions would never happen in a face-to-face setting, but online, with social media, it’s as easy as type-and-click.

I know it sounds hypocritical for some nobody to write a blog post about the dangers of blogs and social media, but hey, I’m allowed to have an opinion.  As is everyone else.  But it’s also everyone’s responsibility to present it in the most civil and constructive way possible.

There’s an adage that says, “with great power comes great responsibility.”  In the internet age, that saying is outdated; nowadays, with even the slightest bit of access should come great patience.  And, of course, that whole “responsibility” thing.

Look at This Photograph

I mentioned that a longer post was forthcoming, and I promise, I will do it at some point soon.  But I was at work late today and by the time I came home, I was kind of tired of looking at a computer.

We’re doing some new stuff in the coming weeks, and part of it involves social media, so yesterday I signed up for an Instagram account.  I don’t have any background with it, or interest in it, really, but if we’re going to be using it at work, I figure I should probably have some sort of experience.  At the same time, I felt the same way about Twitter until I actually started using it, so who knows?

I’ve posted two photos thus far; one of where we went to lunch this afternoon, and one when I stopped at Sonic on the way home.  Part of my reluctance to use Instagram comes from the idea of filters; I post photos on Twitter and Facebook all the time and I don’t need no filters, man.  I get absolutely nothing out of seeing sepia tones added to someone’s photo that they posted.  Oh, cool sunset, man, way to ruin it with a filter.

Despite that, I tried to use a filter when I posted because like I said, if I don’t, I might as well just tweet it.  There were a whole mess of them, and I could barely tell the difference between them.  I found one that I think made the Sonic sign look vintage, whatever that means, but I don’t know.  Seems kind of excessive and/or unnecessary.

But like I said, that’s how I felt about Twitter at first.  I’m sure I’ll figure something out as I go along.  If I don’t, then at least I have the inside track on being the worst Instagrammer in the office.

I Hate Everything About You

ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney was watching the Tigers-Rays game this afternoon.  He tweeted his thoughts on what he was seeing, and what he was seeing was Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer striking out Rays slugger Evan Longoria three times.

Not long after, a few Rays fans started going after Olney.  The gist of their tweets: why do you hate the Rays?

I assure you, Buster Olney doesn’t hate the Rays.  And despite them taking shots at him, he doesn’t hate Rays fans.

I saw this exchange play out on my feed today and it struck me just how two-faced social media can be.  On the one hand, in Twitter we have a tool that allows the people we watch on television or read in the newspaper or our favorite websites to interact with fans in ways we never could have imagined a decade ago.  On the other hand, when before we could only complain to each other how so-and-so had it in for our favorite team, now we can just open an app, peck out 140 characters, and tell that talking head just how we feel about them.  And while the idea might not be so bad, the execution leaves something – a lot, actually – to be desired.

Beyond that, why are sports fans so sensitive?  If a pundit makes an objective observation about your team that is negative, it doesn’t mean they hate your team.  Chances are, they said something nice within the last week as well.  You were just too busy seeking out perceived slights to notice.

Besides, they probably don’t say anything that you haven’t already said.  But just like you’re allowed to beat up your little brother but the local bully can’t, I guess you’re allowed to rip your star player all day even if you’re planning on accusing a national writer of being a “hater” for doing the same.

One of the great things about the technological advances of our time is that everyone can have a voice.  For instance, the one you’re reading right now.  But the worst thing about social media, and the internet in general, is that…well, that everyone has a voice.  Please use yours responsibly.

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy

Well today was interesting, huh?

Like everyone else, I’ve been following the investigation in Boston the last couple days.  Today, we heard conflicting reports over whether or not an arrest had been made, whether a suspect was en route to a the federal courthouse, and whether or not a suspect had even been identified yet.  In the end, we’re in the same place we were when the day started: no one has been arrested, no one has been charged, and no suspect’s name has been released.

I understand the desire for media outlets to be first with breaking news.  Every other outlet has to attribute it to you, and people are inclined to tune into your network or visit your website or buy your paper if you had it first.

But in today’s 24-hour, Twitter-based news cycle, the race to be first and the race to be accurate are often running in opposite directions.  CNN reported that an arrest had been made.  So did Fox News and the Associated Press.  NBC said there were no arrests.  I saw people making fun on CBS because they didn’t say anything.

And yet, soon after, we heard that the authorities were stating that there were no arrests, and suddenly CNN became the butt of everyone’s jokes (my favorite jokes were the ones where everyone – every single person on Twitter anywhere ever – referenced the inevitable “Newsroom” plotline that would stem from the false report).

First of all…why them?  Other outlets continued to report that an arrest had been made.  And yet, CNN took all the heat.  Why?  I mean, I get that Fox News has a reputation among a certain portion of the populace that uses social media that implies that anything they report is wrong, anyway, but they still reported the same story.  So did the venerable Associated Press.  And yet, all the jokes were at the expense of CNN.  That seems unfair.

Secondly, doesn’t it seem odd that the very people who perpetuated CNN’s misinformation – the people who retweeted the story, the people who shared it on Facebook, and the people who told their friends about it – were the ones who then proceeded to vilify the network for its rush to publish?  All they did was report a story from a source; admittedly, they did it too soon, or trusted a misinformed source, or misinterpreted what that source told them.  But it wasn’t like they went door-to-door sharing the news; it was the public, the consumers of the media, that spread the false report faster than a news network ever could.

So let’s simmer down.  “Leave CNN alone!” as an internet celebrity might say.  Remember, all they did was bake the cake.  We chose to eat it.