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Twittering Your Life Away?

May 5, 2009

I don’t understand how chickens make eggs, but I certainly enjoy eating them. In the same vein, I can’t easily explain what Twitter is (many have tried), but I can already see how communication channels are being rerouted and re-prioritized. Some people think it is narcissistic, voyeuristic, or at worst exhibitionist to post on Twitter (or, Facebook, Friendfeed, et al).

However, those that “get it,” realize that Twitter merely moves the back channel to the forefront. The back channel is no longer confined to slow-moving lobby chatter or post-meeting, hallway conversations. The back channel now happens real-time – during the meeting.

Leaders and administrators who dismiss this back channel, do so at their own peril. No longer can one wait for rumors or negative attitudes to bubble to the surface, often whole attitude shifts in one’s sphere of influence will occur before a meeting or presentation is over. In fact, some presentations have been hijacked by irrelevant or off-target presenters. A person’s future may live or die on the back channel; this has always been true, but now the process is accelerated.

Yes, to the casual observer, Twitter conversations may seem inane and irrelevant within themselves, but like most casual banter, these tweets allow relationships to develop and prepare for greater levels of intimacy. Real-life tweetups serve to foster real-life relationships too! Indeed, electronic media allow one to expand their circle of friends beyond mere geographic or employment related friendships. One can find friends over a broader area (globally?) And find people who share their unique geekiness, sense of humor, intelligence, spiritual bent, or whatever.

And then there’s the Twitter back channel. The unwritten rule is that anything requiring more than three tweets should go to DM, IM, or some other private channel. To the casual participant, or lurker, they may not be included in this part of the continuing conversation.

the big picture issues are not being discussed”

The most interesting thing about Twitter, its supporters, and the detractors is the big picture issue that is not being discussed.  Increasingly, there is a greater call in our society for more openness, transparency, accountability, and authenticity.  This means not just revealing all the good things, good feelings, and successes in one’s life – but also revealing the heartaches, failures, and denigrating issues.  This probably applies more to leaders and organizations than they would ever imagine.

In my research over the past 10-15 years, I’ve learned much about why people are fleeing the traditional institutions of our society: namely, the Four Estates. (This fleeing of the estates does not include the Third Estate, The Commoners, as this group seems to be growing as more and more people flee organized institutions – but that’s another post for another day!) It is the lack of transparency, openness, accountability, and authenticity that is an overarching cause of apathy towards traditional institutions and three of the four estates.

We have entered a new era of “taxation without representation” (another post for another day) and people are very disillusioned by this.  Apathy is the new rebellion – people don’t vote, they don’t attend organized, institutionalized churches, newspapers are going bankrupt, and people are losing hope that the government or the churches can turn this society around (The jury is still out on the Obama leadership, but obviously it is the conservatives turn to be apathetic now.).

Recently I’ve gotten some heat for my negative tweets.  I am searching for a way to remain authentic and transparent, but without offending others.  It is my belief that if I only post the good thoughts, I loose credibility.  If I restrain myself from posting when I am angry, depressed, disgruntled, out of whack, or disengaged, then my followers will give less credibility to the other posts.

each post is a part of the greater conversation”

I don’t see each post as complete within itself, but rather as a part of the greater conversation.  In my weekly presentations, I do not try to wrap them up nicely, like a sitcom, in one 40 minute dialog.  Each blog post is a part of a larger exchange of ideas.  This is what social media is all about.  The replies come at me in many forms.  A post on Twitter may be replied to in real life; a blog post may receive replies on Twitter, Facebook, the blog itself, Friendfeed, identi.ca, real life meetups, or even via email – or another person’s blog!  In fact, sometimes the only way I see a reply to a post (in any form) is because I use search tools to find them.  I’ve even gotten replies on Flickr for a tweet that I posted months ago.

This ongoing exchange of ideas, emotions, and back channel conversations has allowed me to meet with people that most faith community leaders will never encounter.  I am in constant dialog with these people, but I do not approach these friendships as if I am the only one with the “right” answers.  It is an exchange of ideas, nuances, and world views.  I gain as much as I offer – sometimes more, sometimes less.

Credit: David Armano - a senior partner at Dachis Corp. Logic+Emotion exists at the intersection of business, design + the social web. http://is.gd/x1BV

I t occurred to me that more linear thinkers would have trouble seeing the tapestry and mosaic of ideas in the nonlinear world of social-networking.  Where I may be able to connect the dots, they may appear invisible to others.  My challenge is to meet the needs of my stakeholders, while still connecting with those pre-stakeholders. To eliminate 10% of my posts would diminish these connections, so I’m trying to figure out how to satisfy these conflicting points of view.

Any ideas?

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2 Comments
  1. May 17, 2009 8:31 am

    If you were constructive instead of negative in your comments, do you think that might help? It might just require re-wording a negative thought.

    • May 17, 2009 12:05 pm

      Thanks @Kmcdade! I’ll take a look at that and see if I can repost it. I really appreciate the constructive criticism! 😀

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