Think before you tweet
We are in an instant era. It is a time of instant heroes, instant "stars" and instant villains.
Norfolk singer Ronan Parke went from nowhere to everywhere in the time it took to belt out a song. And Norwich City fan Luke O’Donoghue went from anonymous to infamous in no time at all.
He had an unsavoury thought, and made the mistake of instantly sharing it on the social networking website Twitter.
It spread like Japanese knotweed. And, appropriately, justice was handed out summarily by the Carrow Road bosses. Now Mr O’Donoghue will have plenty of quiet Saturday afternoons at home, during which he can rue his failure to think before he tweeted.
it was a perfect case study of how life has changed. And it worries me.
As a regular user of both Facebook and Twitter, I am often guilty of saying a lot when I don’t really have anything to say. And I have occasionally posted a comment that I should have kept to myself.
I see it all too often from some of my Facebook friends and those who I follow on Twitter. I recall such thought-provoking gems as "I am going to have a bath" and "not sure what to have for tea".
I wait with anticipation for the first "I am on the toilet" comment.
The line between public and private is not just blurred, it has been erased.
Yet people have largely failed to grasp that one false tweet can end a career, destroy a reputation or finish a friendship.
When people go to a party, the photographs are on Facebook before the last hanger-on has left. And, while all those embarrassing incidents used to be swiftly forgotten by all but a few people, they can now be seen by thousands.
When someone’s relationship is on the rocks, there is no space for them to work things out because one of them has usually changed their Facebook status to "single" in the heat of the moment.
Meanwhile, friends fall out as what ought to be private conversations are played out for all to read –and get involved in.
For the younger generation, all of this is perfectly normal.
Everything has to happen immediately. If a sent text message is not responded to within minutes or a mobile phone answered instantly, the receiver must have either stopped being your friend or has fallen down a manhole.
It must be bamboozling for people from older generations who did not have a way of publicly sharing their every thought.
If they wanted to make a point, it would have to be via a letter. And they would often have to wait for weeks or even months for a reply.
The beauty of a letter – unlike a text, Facebook or Twitter – is that it is composed slowly and thoughtfully.
A badly-worded phrase can be crossed out, while anger or inappropriateness can be screwed up and filed in the bin as the blood cools from boiling point and the writer reflects.
If I wasn’t so impatient and lazy, I’d love to share fewer of my undeveloped thoughts on Twitter and Facebook and set down more of my more considered feelings in letters.
Unfortunately, the art of the letter is likely to become extinct.
So all I can do is hope that my children’s generation will take on board two bits of advice.
Think before you tweet: a few seconds of thought could head off a disaster.
And, for the sake of your dignity, try to keep much of your life private.
posted on 14 June 2011 09:26 bySteve Downes