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Everyone Take a Deep Breath and Think Before You Tweet

As 2011 comes to a close, it’s time to reflect on the events of this past year. This year provided a cesspool of Twitter drama, much of which could have been easily avoidable. It seemed like there was a new big-name social media blunder each week. Everyone from Ashton Kutcher to Alec Baldwin, and even NATO have taken to Twitter like a crazed horde of gossiping preteens.

Kutcher’s Twitter account took a hit when he criticized Penn State for firing Joe Paterno without knowing all the details about the story. Once he heard the whole story, he tweeted an apology and shortly thereafter his account was handed over to a PR rep.

alec baldwin

Alec Baldwin is the most recent celeb to succumb to Twitter drama.

More recently, Alec Baldwin and American Airlines have been under scrutiny for some in-flight drama that escalated to a very public, overdramatic stream of insults on Twitter.

Just as the people posting ignorant statements to Twitter damage their reputations, sometimes it’s even worse for the people who actually respond to the haters. For example, Kansas governor Sam Brownback’s office tried to force an apology out of a high school student by going to her principal after she made some snide comments on Twitter during a visit to the governor’s office.

The most shocking Twitter drama for me is the passive-aggressive tweet war between @ISAFmedia, a representative from NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, and @ABalkhi, a member of the Taliban. Yes, it’s like junior high he-said-she-said gossip, BUT WITH GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS AND TERRORISTS. Am I the only one who sees a problem with this? Is there really no other way that NATO’s time and money can be spent?

As many of these big names have learned, one wrong move can turn 140 characters into a PR nightmare.

So what is it about Twitter that encourages celebrities and big brands to forget all concepts of socially acceptable interaction between adults? Maybe they need to go back to that simple adage we all learned in kindergarten, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” with the addition of “Plus, fighting on the internet makes you look like a tool.”

Just because Twitter allows everyone to have a voice about anything, doesn’t mean every gripe and comment needs to be taken public. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

twitter drama

This is how your Twitter drama makes us feel.

Would Ashton Kutcher really tell an official at Penn State that they have no class in person? Maybe. But would a government official ever call a terrorist a “dumb dumb” to their face? I don’t think so. Would a governor respond to a teenager inappropriately shouting at him at a rally by forcing her to come on stage and apologize? Absolutely not. Then why are they doing it online?

With 30,000+ followers, it can’t be because they think no one will notice. Nope, the problem is that Twitter prompts, “What’s happening?” and celebrities and brands tell exactly what’s happening or “what’s on their mind” without even thinking.

Okay, so the first step to improvement is recognizing that there’s a problem. What can be done? One commenter on one of the many stories published regarding the Alec Baldwin incident suggested that Twitter enact a deliberation period for tweets: “If you still want to send this tomorrow, then we’ll go ahead and do that, but you need to sleep on it first.” Sounds like a good idea to me.

Any social media mishap can be avoided, so long as the person posting thinks long and hard before hitting the “share,” “tweet,” or “submit” button. So celebrities and brands, please, for the love of all things holy, make it your New Year’s resolution this year to think before you tweet.

What do you think? Are you sick of the Twitter drama? Which other celebrities need to learn to think before they tweet? What do you think were the most memorable Twitter mishaps of 2011?

Photo courtesy of David Shankbone.


Jenna Markowski

Jenna has a much easier time writing about the media and pop culture than she does writing about herself. She enjoys the simple things in life, like puns and typography. She is an avid fan of pop-punk, Halo 3, Spider-Man and origami, with a slight Taco Bell obsession. Her spirit animal is either a bulldog or a panda bear. You can also connect with Jenna on Google+ and Twitter.

Comments

  1. JPorretto

    I’m SO glad you made this point Jenna. I had my fill of idiots BEFORE twitter, and now it’s just gotten out of control. I’m sure there’s plenty of people out there that don’t feel the need to tell everyone everything they’re thinking every second of the day, but they get completely drowned out by the people who do. Which is just a shame…

    • Jenna Markowski

      Thanks, Jeff! I totally agree! Some people just don’t need a voice on the internet..

  2. Mandy Kilinskis

    On a lesser scale, the whole hilarious act of Charlie Sheen tweeting his phone number to his millions of followers is pretty awesome. It makes it even better when he was trying to DM it to – wait for it – JUSTIN BIEBER. I’m sorry, what?! Why do those two ever need to chat? And was Charlie Sheen too geared up on winning and tiger blood to realize that he wasn’t DM’ing the teen idol? The screens, even on mobile, are pretty different.

    Nobody looked too much like a tool – well, not more than Charlie Sheen’s normal toolness – unlike the instances you cited above. I am still awestruck by the ways that terrorists and governments have been tweeting each other. I’m pretty sure that replying to them is empowering them. I know I learned that in kindergarten. If someone just told that to me, I honestly wouldn’t believe that. Absolutely insane.

    • Jenna Markowski

      HAHA, yeah. That whole Charlie Sheen mess included too much drama for this blog post — it could be a blog post all on its own! I do wonder what Charlie Sheen could have possibly wanted from Justin Bieber..free CDs? Dancing lessons? Hairstyle recommendations? Either one sounds hilarious.

      And EXACTLY. Governments responding to terrorists’ threats on Twitter makes my head spin. The number 1 rule of the internet is that responding to drama only creates more drama. The terrorists are trolling! Agreed, absolute insanity.

  3. Eric

    Oh, whatever technology shall celebrities use to get themselves into trouble next…

    • Jenna Markowski

      Google +??? Foursquare? LinkedIn? The options are limitless!

  4. david k waltz

    Jenna,

    I think of watching TV with my wife, there is a news item or a commericial or what have you, one of us will comment on it, the other will respond.

    In my mind Twitter is kind of like the on-line equivalent to that. When the Penn State news broke, I made comments to my wife. She made some to me. Kutcher just made them electronically, without knowing all the facts. I too am occasionally guilty of forming an opinion about something and then being forced later to refine it based on new information that I found out.

    But, for some it is not just about thinking ahead…some people are just not very nice people. They’re entitled, or arrogant, or abusive, or you-name-it. Isn’t Baldwin the one who reamed out his kid on the telephone answering machine last year? In a case like the airline one a couple of weeks back, maybe he is just showing us who he really is.

  5. Jill Tooley

    Nice commentary, Jenna! It seems like people have been having hella problems with Twitter these days. I love Alec Baldwin as an actor, so it’s hard for me to stay too mad at him, but he did act kind of childish about the whole Words with Friends situation. And as for the rest of them…well, I can’t say I’m too surprised. Some people have little tact to begin with, but you get an entirely new concoction of “WTF” when you combine that with ignorance!

    I have a feeling Ashton Kutcher will be tweeting again soon. He seems like too much of a ham to not disclose his every thought to his fans!

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