A personal take on various topics

A Mea Culpa on a Tweet Gone Sour

As someone who has been using usenet and the world wide web since ‘94 , there was one thing I had learnt long time back. Be careful of what you write. Sure in the first year or so I wrote stuff which I wished I had a way of pulling back, and once every few years there does go out a mail I wish I hadn’t pressed the Send button so fast. But even as I am aware I often compose long winding sentences which take some effort at reading, I was feeling rather smug in the notion that I had learnt the art of being careful. I knew I could write passionately even as I maintained a sense of balance and did not take extreme positions. That I had gone past the stage of writing stuff that in hindsight sounded just plain dumb. Until today. Today is when I realised that while I am careful when I compose emails and blog posts, tweeting is something I need to reinforce those learnings. Theres something quite easy about 140 characters which sometimes just entices you to offer your opinion - oh just so quickly. And that speed of tweeting can sometimes bend the editorial controls that one has learnt to apply on a mail or a blog post. At the end of it one wonders what it was - irresponsibility, folly, or just some mythological greek hubris (actions which negatively impact / shame both the perpetrator and the affected) slipping past editorial controls. There was one quick tweet that I did which referred to a screenshot just a little while back. Soon enough I had people expressing their angst at me, angst that I then considered completely unreasonable since I was factually quite accurate. I actually considered myself the victim for a while. Until the last mail I exchanged on the topic required me to take a relook at my tweet - and I couldn’t believe my eyes, I had actually put the name of a website in there in a context that had some negative connotations. And the worst part was that I never really actually remembered actually putting in the name that I so obviously had done. The name was in the image also, but putting the name in the tweet amounted from moving it from the 5th page of a newspaper bang onto the front page. Try hard as I could, I just could not actually bring myself to remember how I consciously typed it in there. And then I slowly imagined myself on the receiving side of it. I soon realised I would’ve been hopping mad. Much much more than hopping mad. It was inappropriate. It was unnecessary. It was entirely uncalled for. I have over a period of time realised that every 3-4 years I do something incredibly stupid. The kind which requires me to ask myself “what weed was I smoking ?”. In a sarcastic vein I can take solace in the fact that as far as the law of averages can predict I shouldn’t be doing anything similar at least till 2012. I deleted the picture. I deleted the tweet. But the tweet still stays there in the ether. Moral of the story : Just because typing in 140 chars is easy and quick doesn’t mean you can let your editorial guard be down while tweeting. In fact given the fact that it is so much easier to tweet, not only do you need to have those same guards on, they need to be more agile and sharp since a tweet can be sent far quicker than it takes to write out a subject line.