I borrow the title to this post from a recent Jonathan Fields blog entry, Please Don’t Tweet This. Most of us have been there, mainly in social (instead of corporate) scenarios, where something we say or do gets tweeted by one of our overzealous friends or acquaintances. For many of these moments, I believe one’s reaction could settle for “no harm, no foul”. Outside of our friend and family circles, however, tweeting bits and pieces of a speaker’s or presenter’s statements can be frowned upon.

The idea behind warning your audience to not share on Twitter what they are about to hear (or have just heard) from you, according to Fields, is related to a shift in self-perception, context and credibility:

  “authenticity and truth have created a dynamic where people are increasingly scared to be transparent and speak the truth, because of the risk of being taken “the wrong way by the wrong people.”

Always on, all the time doesn’t always work when your goal is the [sic] cultivate an environment where participants in a conversation feel safe enough to get real.”

A certain sense of temporary privacy, within the confines of a public discussion, and the need to self-regulate one’s attention comes to mind. Michael Martine, who commented on this post, argues that “if you’re “reporting” then you’re not really listening or engaged” and adds: “Nothing ruins the experience for me more than feeling like I have to offer a live report on events”.

Other type of reporting scenarios are more random, like the case of the users that, according to Techcrunch, “unwittingly live-tweeted the raid on Bin Laden” while in Pakistan. Secrecy is a privilege, more often than not, but I’m sure we’ll agree on the need of information that should be kept on the down low.

Depending on where you stand with “no Twitter” policies and attentive listening, you will benefit from what Fields states (in the comments section of his post): “[…] the reason I sometime institute social media bans has nothing to do with privacy, it has everything to do with attention. There’s simply no way to simultaneously report an experience and fully experience it simultaneously.” 

Photo by Robert Scoble

2 thoughts on “Always on, all the time

  1. He has a very good point! I don’t tweet–I don’t even have a cellphone or any other portable electronic device, I refuse to. But it’s so sad how one can hardly say anything these days without some twit tweeting it–usually for his/her own gain, as a sort of one-up on the speaker. Even freedom of speech is being threatened because of this–for the court of public opinion is so much more powerful than any legal court, and so much more irresponsible and unforgiving! I’d like to see these twitter-twits face the same court as their victims–I like to see them tweeted, offguard, in private, when they’re not necessarily at their verbal best or in a good mood. I’d like to see these twitter-twits brought to justice by the court of public opinion, for a change!

    1. Twitter, though it’s a medium that I value and use almost every day, is one of social media’s noisiest channels. I hadn’t thought about it, the “court of public opinion”. I’ve had personal beefs with people I know because of something they have tweeted, so sensibilities are always vulnerable in a 140 character, mostly public format. Here in Guatemala, freedom of speech and its limits were questioned when a couple of years ago a user was prosecuted and faced a possible sentence due to one of his tweets (political in nature).

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