When I first heard of Twitter, I thought it was a dirty verb, like: “Get Twittered!” or “Go Twitter yourself!” (And maybe there’s still potential for that.) Turns out it’s a social networking website. And it has undeniably become the Next Big Net Thing.
In addition to allowing friends to keep up with each other’s day-to-day goings-on, all kinds of organizations from restaurants to sporting clubs to Ashton Kutcher are learning to use its free marketing potential to promote themselves. EPL Talk’s own The Gaffer uses it to keep folks current with our site’s updates.
But alongside the benefits, there’s plenty of room for error as well. Controversy arose this week when Tottenham Hotspur’s Darren Bent used Twitter to vent his frustration over stalled transfer talks. He reportedly posted the following items on his Twitter account:
“Why can’t anything be simple? It’s so frustrating hanging around doing jack s**t. Seriously getting p***ed off now.”
“Do I want to go to Hull City, no. Do I want to go to Stoke, no.”
“Do I want to go to Sunderland, yes. So stop f*****g around, Levy.”
There was speculation it wasn’t really Bent’s account (I was hoping it would prove to be Steve Bruce’s), but today Bent owned up to his posts when he apologized on Tottenham’s official site:
“I appreciate that transfers are seldom straightforward and are often complex. However, after a long period of waiting following my withdrawal from the plane to China, I had become incredibly frustrated by the time these things take and I posted inappropriate comments on my Twitter site.
“I allowed my emotions to get in the way of my better judgement. I regret my actions and did not intend to offend Daniel Levy or anyone with the nature or the content of my posting.”
Bent’s retraction aside, does this mean Twitter will play a bigger role in our football media terrain? Will we see players and managers using Twitter to wind each other up? Complain about refereeing decisions? Flush out transfer speculation? Will we be reading articles every week about professional football Tweets?
The possibilities are endless…
A_Zaki: I was completely onside. Linesman was drunk. Time to sulk.
RafaBeni: Getting nervous. Bought Xabi case of Rioja in case he’s on fence.
Fergie99: TiVo’ed Rafa’s latest press conference. Hoping for rant pt 2.
BexInLA: Took Landon bowling to ease tension. Kicked his arse. Oops.
City_Hughes: Players in place. Time to shop for chemistry.
J_Barton: Anybody know a good lawyer?
In 1998, when I started going to the University of New Hampshire, AOL Instant Messenger was the big rage. We were bent over our computers all hours of the day, keeping up with old friends from home and getting to know new ones at school. I remember many the awkward moments and endless misunderstandings that come too easily with such brief, faceless, voiceless interaction. We learned some big lessons. Like: sarcasm is hard to convey over the internet. And: always talk about the big issues in person. Eventually, we succumbed to communicating using the away message function (the message one left when away from Instant Messanger: at the library… at the dining hall… surfing for porn…) in an attempt to avoid the real-time electronic faux pas. These “status updates” became the template for today’s Tweets.
Later, this desire for online social networking gave birth to sites like Friendster, MySpace and Facebook. Each one seemed to catch on for a while before getting knocked off the perch by the next. But Twitter seems to reach all the way back to Instant Messenger and amplify that concept to a mass scale.
Bent’s comments might have once been some quiet griping to personal friends. No story there. But today it gets broadcast the world over. Anyone who’s paying attention gets wind of his complaints. And it ends up on all the media sites as the controversy du jour.
As we demand more and more information in shorter and shorter bursts, it’s easy to get caught in the stream. The lesson those in the public arena need to learn—similar to what we students learned at University long ago—is despite the ease of transmission, you need to watch your words. Now more than ever. The world is potentially listening.
Oh, by the way… keep an eye my upcoming can’t-live-without-it social networking site: TweetMySpaceBookster.com™. It’s going to be huge. Coming soon to a laptop near you.