Don’t Fear The Twitter

26 Apr

Recently,  a consultant came to speak at my company, giving a short and frankly run of the mill presentation about customer service, fulfilling one’s potential, etc. With his own iPhone in hand, he spoke at length about how the smartphone (and all modern technology) take up more and more of our time, sapping us of productivity and gross national happiness. Much of his presentation rang true to me, with the exception of the above peroration. I think it is simply a generational difference. For, although I have spoken previously about how social media changes our interactions with (and expectations of) others, I think that, rather than drag us down, it can lift us up. Social media, after all, is social, and is a simple reflection of the user. Technology will only bring you down if you let it!

It was not long after the work presentation by Matt Foley that I read a piece by Dr. Peggy Drexler in Huffpost about, what elese, the pros and cons of Twitter. I see the same hand-wringing in her list of cons that I heard from our visiting consultant. She mentions that one of the drawbacks of Twitter is the potential harm to one’s professional reputation if Twitter is used irresponsibly: “many employers reject potential employees whose Twitter profiles include provocative photos, evidence of drug use or drinking, negative posts about previous employers or co-workers, or comments that might be interpreted as racist, sexist, or ageist”. Now, is this a drawback to Twitter? No! It is a reflection of the user. If you’re a positive person who likes to follow the local news (like me for example), your tweets will reflect that. If you have a toxic worldview, that will be reflected too. Don’t blame the tool for exposing a few tools in society.

Drexler does go on, however, to point out what I think is the best pro to Twitter, and that is the fact that, while it is good for self-promotion, it is even better for promoting others. Just like being retweeted is a great feeling (wow, someone I don’t know likes what I said!), it is a good feeling to retweet someone else. The immediacy of Twitter can lead to instant recommentations, interactions, joking, cajoling, flirting, connecting. And yes, if you’re a jerk it can probably also lead to instant trolling. But like attracts like, as I often like to say. If you like smart, funny people in real life, you will be drawn to those people wherever you go, in real life or in the Twitterverse. So stop fretting about technology’s hold on our lives and allow yourself to control it. Like almost anything in life, it is what you make it.

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