Now that the traditional media of television and print have discovered Twitter and Facebook (FB), there's plenty of airtime spent discussing these new communications platforms. Just like any news story involving a dead white woman with slightly sexual overtones, the media has taken the topic of social networking and beaten it to a bloody pulp.
And just like when we've all reached our maximum capacity of any given dead white woman news story, there is backlash.
So it was when John Ridley filed this commentary on NPR. The topic? Twitter and Facebook. Here's some of the transcript:
But my real issue with social networking sites isn't their faddishness.Ridley is wrong to equate the invasion of privacy with indiscretion. Giving away your privacy and having it taken away by The State and, often, without your knowledge, are two distinct things. If I want to post that my butt itches and I'm about to scratch it, I am deciding that at that very moment such is the statement I want to make to my Twitter followers and Facebook friends.
It's the hypocrisy that goes with them.
We claim to be a nation of people who take our privacy very seriously. Just mention the idea of warrantless wiretaps and expect to get hit up with a congressional investigation.
But give somebody an avatar and a URL, and he can't tweet, post or hyperlink enough personal information about himself to as many people as possible.
Seriously, does valuable broadband space need to be taken up with announcements in that creepy Facebook third-person-ese that "John is enjoying two-for-one margaritas with the rest of the IT Team at T.G.I. Fridays"?
Where is the expectation of privacy anymore? Or, more correctly, where is the expectation that people will keep their private nonsense to themselves so that those of us who still like to communicate personal information with one person at a time don't have to get caught up in somebody else's e-mail circles or listen to their one-sided cell phone conversations?
No, I don't know what's hipper; to Facebook or to Twitter. I just know for me, personally, discretion never went out of style.
However, if The State decides that it wants to monitor my left butt cheek by planting a device in it while I'm sleeping so that The State can use my itchy butt as a means for finding out if I am a threat to this nation, well, now we have a constitutional issue.
Big difference. The other part of that is very simple. I choose what to tell you. I don't actually tell you everything. Imagine. The mind reels at what I could possibly be holding back, right? But it's true. Some might say that I violate the privacy of my family when I blog about the doings here at Golden Manor. Perhaps. But if any of them would ask me to not write about something (and they have), I honor that. I call them filthy names and ridicule them for their apparent lack in the sense of adventure department, but I honor their request. Grudgingly.
So I take issue with Ridley's awkward comparison between personal privacy and a constitutional right to privacy. Beyond that, I can agree that there is awful lot of noise out there with this person heading off to the men's room with the newspaper (an FB status that made me laugh, frankly, but I am a fan of potty humor - ooooh, must add Potty Humor to my "fan of" list on FB) or that person who is going to have their roots touched up at lunch time. Seriously, though, I am not so busy and important that these little things make me crazy. For cliff's sake, filter. If you don't want that stuff, don't sign up for it. I know plenty of people who would rather chew glass than use social networking.
Ridley, though, is missing a really good use for social networking. As more people adopt it, it can make communicating to large groups much easier. It's never going to replace more traditional methods like mailings, phone calls, purchased advertising, emails and the like. Come to think of it, a few years ago we would have laughed at the idea of emails being considered one of the "traditional" communications tools.
Part of my job is to communicate to a large audience. We stopped our printed quarterly newsletter and went to a weekly email newsletter. As much as I complain about what a burden it is to produce weekly , it's truly effective. I put snippets of the article into the email newsletter that goes out to our membership using a nationally known service. Each snippet links to the full article on the organization's blog. From the stats, I can see that people are clicking the links and visting the full articles on the blog.
We communicate industry information and promote the various programs, services and events provided by the organization. Next I want to supplement the email newsletter with a Tweet. It could be very effective to tweet something like "Hey, laggards! You have two more days to register for Thursday's webinar. Get on the stick! No time like the present!"
Or something like that.
Colleges have already adopted Twitter and Facebook. I am going to be very grateful for Tweets about the events at The Dancer's university because goodness knows she isn't going to be bringing home a backpack full of notices and permission slips. All levels of school should add this supplemental communication tool to their outreach methods. I, for one, would be grateful for a Tweet that says "Don't forget class pictures are tomorrow so make sure your kid wears something halfway decent and drags a comb through his/her hair!"
Naturally not everyone is going to be on board with these methods, but for those who are, it could be a very efficient way to stay on top of things.
I hope that Ridley will rethink his opposition and disdain of social networking. Soon I'll be setting up a Facebook page for work. When I asked my boss J about it the other day, I posed it like this: "Don't we (meaning the organization) want fans, too?" His response was a resounding yes.
It's not all work related, of course. I mean, it's me. And I can't wrap up this post without telling you how much I love Twitter and Facebook for their efficiency in promoting this here blog. I know. Ho hum, right? Well, when I'm not posting links to my current blog entry or some music I've just got to share, I can still be found posting a delightful assortment of status updates....
Lisa.....is writing a blogpost that she hopes will change the way the John Ridley views Twitter and Facebook.
Lisa...is eating a Three Musketeers Bar for breakfast.
Lisa...wonders what THAT noise was.
Lisa...is fretting the decision to use the pink highlighter instead of the yellow.
Lisa...wants to know - what would YOU do for a Klondike Bar?
Lisa...did not laugh when MathMan did the nod/snort/wake yourself up thing as he slept in his office chair.
Lisa...likes some things more than she should.
Lisa...considers whether it's hypocritical to read The Myth of Multitasking on the toilet.
Lisa...wonders how long it will take The Actor to ask what happened to the XBox360 controller.
Lisa...is baffled by THAT decision, but is willing to give it a try.
Lisa...is annoyed that every time she starts to do something, she has to stop and go pee.
Lisa...hopes some people don't look too closely at her new FB avatar because there's a wee bit too much cleavage.
Lisa...eyes suspiciously that package over there. Did it just move? Do I hear ticking?
Lisa...wants the voices in her head to stop now. Really. NOW.
Lisa...would walk Five Hundred Miles. Must get new shoes.
Lisa...worries that one day she will accidentally post a That's Why post on the work blog.
Lisa...thinks that she should have a staff to take care of that. And that. And that. Oh, and that, too.
Lisa...says "Look ma! No hands!" and then "Hey, Grandpa! What's for supper?"
Lisa...could, but won't.
Lisa...does not believe in fairy tales.
Lisa...is (fill in the blank.)
Lisa...likes french fries dipped in mayo.
Lisa...has left the building........
What about you? Do you...........?