Writing and Social Media

I was at the Michigan Sport Business Conference (MSBC) today (sponsored by the School of Kinesiology and the Ross School of Business) and was intrigued by all of the social media they had involved in the conference. The speakers encouraged attendees to tweet questions and thoughts about the topics discussed throughout the day. As I sat listening to the speakers, I would occasionally scan through the list of tweets (compiled on a smartphone app called Bizzabo that was used at the MSBC). It was interesting to have an instant feed of other people’s thoughts, right as they were thinking them, as I sat in the same room listening to the same speakers.¬†However, I still don’t really get Twitter. And, to be honest, I find it more annoying than informative. Reading through the tweets from the day, I felt like I couldn’t understand a lot of what was being said. People would quote different phrases the speakers would say…which just ended up being three or four words. So much meaning was left out of the tweets, including the context in which the quotes came from.

The speakers present (including Stephen M. Ross, Dhani Jones, the former CMO of VitamenWater, a guy from the B1G network…the list goes on) were high profile business leaders and had a lot of interesting thoughts on the evolving nature of sport in this country, both on a collegiate and national level. I know that I got a lot out of the conference and I would think that pretty much everyone there did as well. Therefore, it makes me question what people were really tweeting for. I doubt they were tweeting for their own benefit, so they could go back and look at what they wrote. So, that would lead me to believe that they were tweeting for the benefit of others who were not at the conference….but how would anyone not at the conference really get anything meaningful out of 140 characters? The topics discussed were so much richer than that minuscule amount could allow. And furthermore, taking a quote out of context makes things confusing and potentially disastrous.

As I scrolled though the twitter feed, I felt like I was reading disjointed writing – like people were trying to cram a lot of important thoughts into too small of a space. While I admit that tweeting a question at a speaker could be a valuable use of this social media outlet, I still don’t quite understand the draw of releasing your thoughts in 140 character bursts to the cyber world on a nearly continuous basis. I feel like Twitter is diluting the powerfulness of words and writing.

Am I just out of the loop? Am I missing something? Is Twitter really all its cracked up to be?

One thought to “Writing and Social Media”

  1. The role I assign Twitter in social media is one of humor that entails from revelry. I prefer to tweet on the weekends. I am a conscientious tweeter, I will not tweet unless I think those who will read my tweet will laugh at or with me. This stems from the disdain I have for those who frequently tweet melodramatically. Another reason I tend to only tweet when the nights get wild is because those times are relatively meaningless. Social media seems to impersonalize information that holds true significance, information I think is better off left in the private sphere.

    I do not particularly look to Twitter to be of a guide in scenarios similar to what you have described. I would rather listen than be distracted by a limited amount of characters. As you mention quotes are easily enough taken out of context. I also rather read real words than abbreviations.

    Twitter can provide an interesting sense of the pulse of an event with hashtag counts. This can sometimes be a cool feature.

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