Twitter is an awesome way to distribute information and to create connections with people. I’m lucky that there are a few people out there who want to hear what I have to say, er, Tweet. But our Twitter followers don’t define or validate us. And if those 1,154 do validate/define you, then you might want to reconsider what’s important to you.
As a confessed information junkie, I love Twitter. It seems pretentious but I love sitting out on a nice day, having a coffee and scrolling through the Twitter feed on my BlackBerry. Maybe I’ll read a story in the Washington Post on a group of students from an African-American boarding school who traveled to D.C. to see the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Maybe I’ll read a poorly written game story that’s all play-by-play and no theme. Or maybe I’ll read a news alert from Chicago about how the L trains have been stopped because a person fell on the tracks during the A.M. commute. I also get to see peoples’ personal thoughts. There’s a certain level of intimacy to Twitter in that regard. It is also, for journalists, a great way to get information and content out into the world – and out quickly and in consumable form.
But I dislike when people use Twitter as a primary form of communication in an important situation. My pet peeve is when you send me 140 characters via direct message telling me something that might be meaningful, when you can pick up a phone or send me a personal e-mail or a note on Facebook. Much like sarcasm doesn’t translate on Twitter (or on paper, for that matter – ask David Cone about his newspaper stint in 1988), there’s a certain emotional aspect lacking when you send a direct message to someone.
No, there’s a lot of emotion lacking when you’re trying to tell someone in 140 characters that you’re sorry, that you’d like to help … or that you’re sick of their crap.
What got me when I got laid off was the people whom I thought would care enough to send an email or pick up the phone … but who sent me a 140-character-or-less direct message. Um, you have my email. You have my phone number. To be honest, I was in no mood to do personal PR in 140 characters or less for the first 48 hours after I got my letter of termination … but I probably would have picked up the phone after seeing your name on the caller ID. I’m sure you’d give good phone, too.
An aside … A shameless plug: Follow me on Twitter – @rlenzi. Just don’t send me a direct message and think you’re getting the emotion of the point across.