When you open the Twitter homepage you’re greeted with a short summary of exactly what the social network is all about. “Welcome to Twitter. Find out what’s happening, right now, with the people and organizations you care about.” Users can get up to the minute status on news, pop culture and sports.
One of the greatest parts about Twitter is that it allows regular people like you and me to connect with so many others that seem so out of reach. By this I don’t mean the ability to connect with people living far distances from you (although that is convenient as well). But the ability to connect with celebrities, athletes and organizations that, before Twitter, were simply untouchable images of what fame and fortune have to offer. Far too distant for “normal” people to be in contact with.
Today, I can tweet at almost any celebrity or athlete that comes to mind and I know that it will appear in the mentions page of that person’s Twitter account. Ten years ago that wouldn’t have even been a thought. It is interesting how as the world seemingly becomes more distant due to technology and the Internet, but things like Twitter are connecting us in ways we never could have imagined.
Another addition to the world of celebrity “stalking” as some may call it (in the most innocent sense of the word of course) is the fact that most anyone can see interactions and even complete conversations from high-profile people via Twitter. These conversations range anywhere from friendly “hello’s” to all-out “Twitter wars” which are then publicized in other forms of media (broadcast, Internet sites etc.).
A prime example is when the University of Georgia football team’s cornerback and kick-returner, Brandon Boykin (@BrandonBoykin2), decided to take to Twitter just a week before the Bulldogs’ first game of the season against Boise State. Boykin, feeling confident in his abilities as a football player, sent Boise State head coach Chris Petersen a rather “direct message” (if you will) about the upcoming matchup over the social networking site:
“Dear Coach petersen, I DARE you to Kick to me… Sincerely, Me and my #dawgs.”
Mind you, Boykin’s tweet was public, meaning anyone with or without a Twitter account could view what the sophomore Bulldog said. This comment went viral within a matter of hours. ESPN covered the story with a few questions in mind:
“Was this a threat?” “Was it in jest?” “What exactly did Boykin mean by this?”
The response many gave was simply that he was a young boy that was quite possibly unaware of the magnitude of a comment like this or that Twitter had not been a part of society long enough for coaches and athletic departments to be able to instruct the athletes about what was and wast not appropriate to post on the Internet.
Athletics are not the only forum for foot-in-mouth type situations to arise on Twitter. Around the time of the news breaking of the Penn State scandal Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk), being one to typically share his opinions via Twitter, made a claim that the situation at hand was being blown out of proportion and that people needed to simply leave it be. Mr. Kutcher later apologized and admitted that his statement was out of line and that he was not fully educated on the situation at hand. He then turned over his Twitter handle to his PR people so as not to create another uproar like he did previously. Kutcher has since deleted the tweets and remained cautious about commenting on things until he knows the full story.
So the question on everyone’s mind… To tweet or not to tweet? I think the answer is simple; it dates back to what our parents taught us as small children: think before you speak and never put anything in print that you wouldn’t want repeated.