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When Twitter Attacks

Aaron Steinfeld

Without a shadow of a doubt, most web-savvy individuals can agree that Twitter has become a dominant force in social media communication strategies, as well as being an incredibly useful tool to encourage web traffic via sharing of timely information. The simple interface allows a single tweet to potentially reach millions of followers. But hey, all the good that can come from following @BarackObama, @ladygaga or @God_Damn_Batman can’t come without a little bad joojoo, right? Of course not. For many, Twitter has become a “Water Cooler 2.0,” allowing for the sharing of opinions, feelings and awkward (sometimes narcissistic) thoughts from anywhere and everywhere. Public relations nightmare much? You betcha. Tweets from @OzzieGuillen and @R_Mendenhall

Within the past few weeks, two sports figures have taken issue with knowing when to keep their mouths shut (or thumbs still), and instead have gotten themselves in hot water by tweeting controversially. Back on Wednesday, April 27, White Sox manager, Ozzie Guillen, was ejected from a game his team was in against the Yankees. During the time of his ejection, he posted two tweets, one stating how he was going to be fined “a lot of money,” and another stating how a “tough guy” showed up at the stadium that day (presumably he meant the umpire who ejected him). Due to his tweets, Guillen had the honor of becoming the first MLB player, manager or coach to be penalized for tweeting. His punishment? Two game suspension.

Not even a week later on Monday, May 2, Rashard Mendenhall, running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, tweeted in response to America’s successful offensive on Osama Bin Laden’s “secret” mansion lair (don’t get me started). With perhaps the best intentions, Mendenhall philosophically asked who would celebrate death, and how we should want to hear the opposing side of the story. Okay… as a man of ethics, I can respect where he’s coming from. But his timing was simply awful, not to mention the fact he comes off as a sympathizer (without that really being his intention, one might argue).  To make matters worse for him, the Steelers’ president, Art Rooney II, commented on the matter, explaining in a statement that “it is hard to explain or even comprehend what he meant with his recent Twitter comments.” (NY Times) Awkwaaaard.

So there you have it. Twitter can be used for the power of good, or the power of ill-thought-out, typo-spewing, bad-timed diatribes. Twitter, and social media in general, offers soapboxes for anyone to stand upon. How these platforms are used is completely up to the voice behind the keyboard. Bad timing can’t be blamed for the scrutiny the above samples are facing—what can be blamed is a degree of naivety toward the countless and varied people that are paying attention. In this modern Web 2.0 world, someone is ALWAYS hanging on your every word online. You never know who, and you can never know when. But they’re there. They have defined the evolution of the communications industry as an age of social enlightenment. With great power, however, comes great social responsibility. Don't let yourself open the Pandora’s box of potential plight. Go on, say that five times fast.

Stay away from the #Losing zone. And be weary of the open mic— you never know when it might bite back. CJP

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