Thursday, February 4, 2010

When Good Tweets Go Bad

There has been a lot of news that isn't really news, but might be news, but might not be news, but is becoming news because everyone decided its news so therefore it is, in fact, news lately.

Don't worry, that sentence didn't make sense to me either. And that is the point.

Now, I love Twitter as much, if not more, than the next guy. Anytime I can get an inordinate number of responses to a tweet including the word "wiener," you know we have all stumbled on to something special. If there is a greater joy in life than a "wiener tweet," I have yet to experience it.

However, in light of "Mauer Monday" and "Hudson Thursday?" "O-Dog Thursday?" I don't know, the alliteration isn't there for that one (the Hudson thing couldn't have happend on a Wednesday? I mean come on who doesn't want to take part in Hudson hump day? The sexual connotations take that to a whole other level), Twitter has proven that, while it can be an enjoyable -- and often valuable -- tool, it can also be a horrible, frustrating, self absorbed, ego-driven, (insert more negative phrases here) machine.

When a journalist tweets information, even something that was intended to be innocuous, they have to understand people on Twitter who respect their opinion are going to take that morsel and spread it far and wide. There is no filter on Twitter, just rushed reactions to everything. Thus the name Twitter.

People don't think long and hard about tweets, and that is the entire point. The site is built for quck reactions and snapshots from a person's brain to their quick typing trigger finger.

Do you really think I spend along time thinking up the tweet, "If Orlando Hudson chooses the Indians over the Twins he is a huge wiener?"

Nope. I didn't. The word wiener just makes me giggle. I mean, try saying wiener with a straight face.

Now, there is no problem with this random tweeting when it is just some goofy jackass like myself spouting about my favorite sports teams. But when someone like Mark Rosen, or the random Nationals reporter or Kansas City radio station starts making unsubstantiated claims purely for the intentions of starting a publicity firestorm, then we have a problem.

When an quick shot entity like Twitter comes along in a journalistic society that judges success almost soleley on who "breaks the story," you start having some serious issues with the media flow.

Twitter can certainly be a great tool for spreading news, and spreading news quickly. But the problem is that policing the spread of unsubstantiated stories is nearly impossible. Once one tweet about Joe Mauer comes out and 3 other people retweet it, a chain reaction of retweeting and rumor mongering is set into motion.
And it is an unstoppable force.

Again, if I a jackass such as myself were the one tweeting about Joe Mauer, most people would ignore me, or everyone would just shrug like they do at any fan rumor. But when media members begin throwing very, very fringe information around in the interest of breaking a story, it becomes more of a problem.

People are programmed to believe journalists. It's part of the job description. They have inside information about news stories, and they relate that information back to average Joe over there. So when these journalists relate information back to us, even in a tweet, we tend to believe it.

Stopping the influx of unsubstantiated tweets is a difficult goal to reach. Certainly, it is not Twitters job to do so, or even care about doing so. The fact is, when a reporter is considering tweeting information, they need to realize that people digest it the same way they do the 10 o'clock news, or a news website (I'd say the morning paper, but come on, that's just ridiculous. Who reads that?)

While Twitter can clearly be both enjoyable and useful, it can also cause innummerable problems.

Next time, Mr. or Mrs. Journalist, before typing in that quick tweet, consider double checking your sources before hitting the enter key. Tweets need to be treated with the same care of any other news medium.

Otherwsie, our fast-paced society will continue it's downward spiral into quick-tweet chaos.


  1. Well at least the O-Dog tweets appear to be correct. Looks like JJ will be our #8 hitter, not too shabby indeed. Plus the Thome signing really covers up for the #6/#7 spot. This really looks like it could be one of the deadliest lineups of the year.

  2. Yeah I agree. I am really excited about the Twins lineup and really that is far more important than silly Twitter rumors.