Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

It’s been all over the media, the story of the woman who egged her “friend” on to commit suicide. Through the use of social media she managed to convince him that that was the best option he had. And then there was the smart, pretty 12 year old girl who committed suicide due to all the bullying she received via social media.

I wonder, if Jesus Christ were to be crucified today, how many people would pull out their iPhones and snap a picture of his agony to post on Facebook. And yet that is what we do each time we post something negative about a friend, something private about a neighbor, tear down a politician, or post a photograph which never was meant to be shared with the world. These actions crucify and create agony in the target person’s life.

You don’t have to be a bully or psychologically impaired to have your e-mails or tweets wreck havoc on someone. Just look at how our President, yes the president of the United states, has negatively impacted not only the objects of his tweets but his own presidential image. Sometimes it’s not so much the content of a social media post that is the problem but the choice of words used to express an opinion.

For good or bad, social media in all its forms is here to stay. Maybe it’s time to stop and take a look at how our social media words and pictures pollute and demean our existence and hurt the ones to whom we send it. We have the choice to spread messages of hope and beauty rather than despair and ugliness. Let’s make life better by choosing to use it for good


Until the advent of the telephone, communication was face-to-face (yes, there were letters, telegraph, smoke signals, drums, but here we are covering daily communications between regular people). It was one human being using spoken words to be received by another human’s ears. The important matters of businesses, town councils, and governments took place in meetings, where one not only received information but could also see the emotional state of the person speaking. The telephone changed that somewhat especially when the speakerphone (and later the video camera) was invented. However, people still gathered together in real time and space to discuss matters of importance. Then came text messaging and the internet.

Yes, live meetings became the bane of existence for business people. These meetings got the reputation of time wasters, where you were trapped in a room accomplishing little after spending a good chunk of time getting there. So with the creation of electronic devices accessed through high-speed connections, one can be anywhere on the planet and still participate. Cool, right? That’s if there is a video feed to the equation. Most of the time, people just “text” or “post”. So what you get, in essence, is an electronic letter to read which can be misinterpreted in its meaning. Sorry, but “e-moticons” do not count. As humans we need face-to-face communication not only to discern the speaker’s emotional state but also to be able to immediately ask a question to clarify something confusing.

A prime example of how this faceless communication not occurring in real time can go wrong, was recently when President-elect Trump sent his infamous tweet with the word “Nazi” in it. He knew why he was using that to backup a point of his but did anyone other than historians and Baby Boomers get what he was referring to? No. And since tweeting isn’t “real time” even if someone responded to his tweet asking for clarification, he didn’t have the time to send out another tweet to do so. That hardly happens in real time meetings and we saw this during the press conference when a reporter brought it up and Trump went on to explain himself. Bingo, the entire watching universe understood.

I’m not saying that tweeting or texting should be avoided. We can’t go back to the days before these devices and programs were available. However, like we all learned with the e-mail universe, once you hit the send button it’s out there for better or worse. With faceless communications, we all need to try very hard not to say things in a confusing manner or make references that only a certain portion of the population gets (hmm, like telling an in joke that can backfire on you when most of the listeners don’t get it!) It’s also great that now our chief executive can communicate instantly with the masses. Very few previous Presidents had either the technology or the skill to use it as he does.

Meetings have become the dinosaur of the 21st century and Twitter and Facebook have taken its place. It doesn’t matter if you are the President of the United States, or a 12 year old communicating with her best friend, what you say can become a disastrous opportunity to be misunderstood. Keep the message simple, avoid jargon or historical/political references, and you should be on safer ground as a 21st century communicator.

Word transformations:

“[in 2004] Twitter was a sound, the cloud was in the sky, 4G was a parking space, Linkedin was a prison, appkications were what you sent to college, and for most people Skype was a typo.” – Thomas Friedman on Meet the Press

So what common words will have uncommon meanings 10 years from now? Think about that…

“Shorthand” the writing of common English words eliminating letters has been around for decades. So has jargon and slang that use words specific to an industry or social group. But with the advent of texting, and Twitter, you could say new modern “languages” have been born.

Twitter is really more like a word game. It challenges you to communicate within the confines of its 140 character limitation. Sort of like a journalist having to come up with a good short headline for a story. Only on Twitter you can contract words, leave out letters, or use words that are familiar with your readers but which other groups wouldn’t understand. (Read some of Lady Gaga’s Tweets and you’ll get the idea – who the heck are “little Monsters”???!)

Texting doesn’t put a limit on characters or the number of words but like old fashioned shorthand, it is easier to type a message using special words or leaving out letters. I believe this grew from the fact that your keyboard is so tiny, eliminating keystrokes makes typing the message easier. It took me forever to learn how to “thumb” a message (using my other fingers was a nightmare) and I still am amazed when I see a man with huge “paws” entering a message quickly on a tiny device!

 The result is that people have become so used to communicating in this “shorthand” language, that even at a full sized computer keyboard they don’t want to type out full words. Young people have an especially hard time switching from shorthand to normal English. This, of course, impedes communications such as work related correspondence or creating a job search cover letter that sounds professional.

It has also created what used to be called “slang”, words specific to a certain subculture, that are not in the dictionary. First is was using letters to describe things like the infamous LOL. Then it morphed into respelling words so they were shortened like substituting the numeral 4 instead of spelling “for”. Or getting real cre8tive just for the heck of it. Of course there are the totally new words like “hash tag” that in itself spawned “bashtagging” (bashing a company on Twitter using its own hash tag). Or giving a word another meaning for example a “Tweet” once meant only the sound a bird makes! Good or bad? Well, it’s always been said that language is a living thing and changes over time. We don’t speak the way they did in Shakespeare’s day, so why not #change?

Here are a few websites that will have you laughing, (or should I say twittering) or teach you a thing or two about these new “languages”:

Mashable’s Twitterspeak

A dictionary of Twitter words

For texting there are just too many good ones. So type “texting vocabulary” into your search engine of choice and have fun surfing the results!

Being that Popes have made the media a lot in recent weeks, here is a quote from the now Pope Emeritus, Bennedict XVI on social media (of all things!) “The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young.” He was also the first Pope to get a Twitter account!

Remember that old-time saying “They’re talking about you behind your back.”? In today’s digital world of smartphones, iPads, tablets, Twitter, and Facebook, the “behind your back” is the wifi stream! Today’s technology gives everyone the ability to comment on YOU in real time to not one person but hundreds of people. And depending upon the situation, this can be a bonus or a career killer.

Mostly speakers at conferences have had to deal with the death by tweet. But if you think you are imune from this phenomenon, think again. Here are some examples I have personally encountered:

A college professor friend of mine whose presentations tend to be on the boring side got fed up with his students diverting their attention to their cell phones. What a shock he got, when after banning their use one person anonomously e-mailed some of his classmates negative comments that were posted during the class!

I’m sitting in a workshop quite enraptured by the presenter’s information on a new artist’s work. One attendee continuously breaks in with what she knows, which is more than the presenter. Where is she getting it? Google in real time!

On one of my favorite TV shows, a person is interviewing for a nanny for his kids. Right in the middle of the interview, the current candidate answers her smart phone and has the audacity to comment to the interviewer about how she must tweet about getting this position with someone so important. TV scripting? Nope, I’ve heard this from some of my friends who’ve conducted interviews.

On the flip side, positive tweets and Facebook postings spread the speaker’s reach beyond the flour walls. It’s an opportunity to brand oneself as an expert without excerting any effort beyond the presentation.

When people are open to sharing negative messages with the individual (along with positve sugestions for improvement) it can also be a valuable means to self-improvement.

 In this world of mutlitasking it takes more to capture attention then ever before. Studies have shown that young people would be willing to give up their sense of smell for their technology. Thus technology has become a “6th sense”. To the digitally connected 24/7 technology gives them more friends than they could have without the connections, more power to express their opinions, and instant interaction with a community of like minds. Can you beat that?

 So what can you do about this situation? Banning those devices is not the answer as my professor friend found out. First, you have to accept the fact that even before technology, people were making negative comments. Second, know your audience  and make sure your subject matter “matters” to them. Be as entertaining as your personality, material, and situation allows. Keep in the back of your mind that your material should also be worth sharing. Ask for feedback from both the bodies in the room and the bodies in cyberspace. Remember, your audience is potentially a lot larger than the room you are in, and that can be a positive for you. Lastly, spend some time Googling yourself, your company, your topic, and see what comments are floating around in cyberspace!