When Scott Bartosiewicz accidentally dropped the ‘F Bomb Heard ‘Round Detroit’ on Chrysler’s Twitter account on March 9, contrary to popular belief within the walls of Twitter, the world did not end. Chrysler sales did not plummet. My mother did not sign up for a Twitter handle because of the buzz.
I would venture to say, outside of our own little Twitter world, it did not affect us, save for Scott and the unfortunate casualties of the aftershock.
But the few eagle-eyed Twitter users who did catch the errant tweet made sure it wouldn’t go quietly into the night. They displayed the proper amount of manufactured outrage. One user even took the time to write a blog post publicizing their remarkable catch, but you can’t read the entire post anymore because the entire blog has since been marked ‘private’. [Editor's note: Weird.]
We don’t pretend to be offended when we hear somebody swear in a public place like a bar, for instance, so why do we act so shocked when somebody slips in a bad word in the digital equivalent? I mean, I think it was obvious, in retrospect, that Chrysler didn’t sanction the tweet. Somebody just made a mistake.
And, that happens sometimes.
If you’re paying attention to recent trends in our industry, Twitter seems to be the end all, be all of our profession. In actuality, it’s still just a shiny new toy; a toy that will, ultimately, be replaced by something shinier.
According to a recent blog post, there are only about 20 million “real” Twitter users. Or, about 5 percent of Americans. By comparison, that’s about the same number of Americans who own a 3D television, and nobody is quite sure if (or, when) 3D television will ever go mainstream.
So, essentially, we exist in our own little bubble; the importance we put behind Twitter is entirely of our own doing.
Not that it isn’t valuable. It started well enough: “What are you doing?”
Then we turned it into a tool to share valuable content, which led to valuable conversations, which led to us seeking rock star status.
Now the criticism we heap on others dominates our Twitter feeds. Forget about starting conversations. Forget about establishing connections. It is this drive to be the first to point out others’ faults — and gain a small amount of Internet fame — that has become the new American digital past time.
So I ask: When did it become acceptable to play this game? Probably around the same time we started to give the players even a modicum of attention, I answer. Once we started down that path, it would prove damned near impossible to reverse course.
In my humble opinion, Twitter is best used as a vehicle to share information and spur conversations. That’s it. But some see bringing others’ faults into the mainstream as a badge of honor to display proudly, as if we actually give a shit that somebody goofed.
Most of us do not.
Instead of publicly flogging the flaws, let’s focus on using this tool for good. Save the outrage for something that actually matters.