Things on twitter can get testy–Shel Israel and Ford’s Scott Monty debate

February 14, 2009

Use of Twitter gets more interesting all the time. Yesterday, I saw Sally Falkow, one of the real experts in Social Media, talk about Twitter providing the first real threat to Google. Then comes this exchange between Shel Israel (co-author of Naked Conversations–the book that got me blogging), and Scott Monty, from Ford.

A couple of quick comments: one is “toxic talk,” the topic I am kind of focusing on and was commented on in Media Bullseye (which led me to the Israel/Monty exchange. Let me clarify the quick summary from this article–while I think the economy with its fear, despair and uncertainty is contributing to toxic talk, what I am referring to as toxic talk on the internet far precedes the current economic situation. So it is not a cause of it at all–merely a cause of exacerbation.

To some degree the tweet-versation between Israel and Monty is a very mild example of toxic talk. How quickly the otherwise useful discussion devolves to a very mild form of ad hominem attack. I think part of the tendency within social media to far too soon move in this direction has to do with the fact that we are not face to face and that the technology intermediary has a disinhibiting effect. I know my language and too easy anger comes out much quicker when I am alone or with my phone or computer than when I am in the company of fellow humans. Self-control is easier when confronted with flesh and blood. Something we have to be cognizant of in our increasingly mediated interchanges.

Second, this conversation shows better than most could the fact that worthwhile conversations cannot be limited to 140 character interchanges. Something is already happening and is going to happen to our conversation. Short, snappy, snarky and increasingly nasty as brevity becomes almost everything.

Writing this I am reminded of those writers who saw the coming of typewriters and hung on for dear life to their fountain pens, and before that their quills. Hey, I am endlessly intrigued with all this technology and what it does to human life and communication–but if I had my choice, I’d be writing this with a quill. And wouldn’t be limited to 140 characters. Better yet, I’d be sitting with people I enjoy discussing this over a great syrah and a big fat stogie.


One Response to “Things on twitter can get testy–Shel Israel and Ford’s Scott Monty debate”

  1. Gerald,

    Hmmm … does life mimic Twitter or does Twitter mimic life? Abrupt opinion without context, facts, or even people who drink from the same reality pools of information has become the norm.

    It seems to me that Twitter exemplifies, amplifies, and accelerates communication breakdown, but it probably isn’t the cause. People are increasingly looking to validate their own opinions and social media — places like Twitter — make it very easy to do.

    All my best,

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