The weakness of twitter

Every so often I think about being a twit. Er, twitterer. Er, whatever the cool kids call it…

Then I go and I peruse the tweets of various people I know, both everyday and celebrity, and come to the same conclusion: no.

It’s not because the majority of tweets amount to “hey look at me” posts that, taken objectively, are boring. (or are interesting only because THAT PERSON did them). Nor is it (only) the fact that I’m longwinded and 140 characters cramps my style.

It’s the fact that the short length tends to encourage snarkiness.

Sometimes snark, or sarcasm as I still think of the term, is necessary. The problem is that it’s inherently mean. It displays a not-so-nice side of people, one that everyone has, but which most of us don’t like being around for any extended length of time.

I have that streak. I know I’d succumb to the temptation just as thousands before me would do. I’d succumb despite best intentions because of another factor; the immediacy.

With emails, I usually re-read. Same for blogs, and comments to blogs. The times I’ve gotten in trouble, have hurt people who then want to hurt me back, or said words I meant to be funny but in retrospect weren’t, almost all came when I pressed send without reviewing.

So here I am, a small consultant in a slightly oddball niche. (Information/knowledge management focused on small businesses, if you didn’t know.) I’m not in line with the local culture (I’m a liberal in a conservative region, just to start.) There are things that anger me or amuse me that, were I to be loud, would make my customers and potential customers uneasy with me. If in addition I yielded to the sarcastic temptation of twitter, I could kiss the customers goodbye.

Worse, I could kiss potential friends goodbye.

Heck, I could, if I didn’t think about it, make a remark that made my wife think I had better sleep in the shed for a few days.

So despite the fact twitter is becoming something “everybody” does, I won’t. Better to not seize the moment than to use that moment to repeatedly shoot myself in the foot.

As the inevitable addendum, I also won’t follow you on twitter. Set aside the temptation, just this once, to reply (and probably reinforcing your snark), I don’t want to get dozens, hundreds, even thousands of <140 character shorts that are mostly boring, second most frequently digs and insults, and only once in a while, "Oh, neat." If you really think I would like to know, send me an email. Look to the left for my contact.

I'm enough of a twit as it is, thank you.

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