March 21, 2011
TWITTER: Cool or Cruel?
It’s all about social media these days. If you’re not up with Twitter and Facebook, you’re just not in touch. You’re not relevant. And it’s not just about keeping up, there’s huge value in these latest forms of the Digital Age: bringing down dictators in the Arab world, providing disaster response solutions in tsunami-ravaged and nuclear-threatened Japan, reconnecting us with those whom we’ve lost touch, and all the branding and marketing power that they provide.
But social media can also be used to disseminate thoughtless, insensitive, hurtful, or downright mean messages. Take for example the top seven tweets of this past week as presented in HuffPost’s Short and Tweet: The Top 7 Tweets of the Week from the Fringe and Famous. That list included flagrantly cruel and senseless tweets by Gilbert Gottfried. Comments made at the expense of the Japanese people who are suffering through the most unspeakable horror. 50cent made the list, also having tweeted carelessly, cruel thoughts about the Japanese. He then had the audacity to tweet,” Some of my tweets are ignorant I do it for shock value. Hate it or love it. I’m cool either way 50cent.”
Really 50? You’re cool? Sounds like the words of a senseless idiot, who is just cruel!”
Our words have power. Tremendous power. And Twitter, Facebook and other social media have made that power exponential. So while the idea is to share our thoughts, our feelings, our reactions to things that we are experiencing with those in our network, the immediacy of this media often means that we’re putting out into the world things that we should never, ever share.
Problem is: we have at our disposal the most powerful means of communication ever known to humankind and not one of us has had a lesson in how to use it appropriately. Twitter and Facebook can be used as powerful tools or they can simply be abused. So what’s it going to be, cool or cruel?