As technology evolves, so does communication. With the use of new social networking sites such as Facebook, and especially Twitter any thought can be broadcasted to thousands of users with a click of button. However, are all these thoughts really post worthy, or in Twitter’s case, tweet worthy?
In the case of the 2012 Olympics, it felt like Twitter was a place where spoilers lurked, instead of usual culture commentary. Take, for instance the every popular #NBCFAIL hashtag, which has been used to bash NBC’s various problems broadcasting the summer games, stemming from time-delays to lagging live-streams.
Richard Sandomir discussed the network’ issue with the time delay versus the tweet-it-now world of social media in his New York Times article, “Olympic Viewers Have a New Reason to Complain, and the Means to Do It.”
In that, Sandomir claims, “The past animosity rested on tape-delaying certain marquee sports into prime time. But now Twitter has turned into a fiery digital soapbox against NBC, as its users have merged their resentment over tape delay with problems viewing the live-streams.”
Though complaints have been made and tweets have been tagged, it didn’t seem to have effect NBC’s glowing ratings for the opening ceremony held late last month. With a reported 40.7 million views for the opening ceremony and 28.7 the following night for the first round of competition, NBC felt they have little to worry about when it comes to broadcasting live, regardless of tweets.
That was, until a reporter took the issue a step further, took control of the situation through twitter. In an article reported by the New York Times, Los Angeles-based correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent, Guy Adams, began venting his feelings about NBC’s delayed TV coverage. He tweeted his frustrations on the time delay as well as NBC’s attitude towards “pretending” to broadcast the games live. It was his last tweet, however, that sealed his fate.
“The man responsible for NBC pretending the Olympics haven’t started yet is Gary Zenkel,” read Adam’s tweet. “Tell him what u think!”
Adams ended the tweet with Zenkel’s work email, and instantly he was retweeted and some angry followers added the hashtag #NBCFAIL. The tweet was taken down, as Adam’s account was suspended by Twitter after Zenkel, an executive at NBC, filed a complaint with Twitter, finding that Adam’s had posted his email to be harassing.
Though he had posted the email of a network executive on his twitter for all his followers to see, tweet, retweet and use for themselves, Adam’s still stressed in a statement, “I do not wish Mr. Zenkel any harm.”
The extreme lapse in judgment is testament to just how much of a ripple effect Twitter’s posts can create. Unlike a site like Facebook, where posts can be contained to only a user’s circle of friends, Twitter is more like posting into the wide world of the internet. Whatever happens after a tweet is posted, however, depends on the user of Twitter itself.
It’s not just news-outlets who are falling to understand the ramifications Twitter, as many celebrities have be aware to the scathing punishment that comes with posting without discretion. Once used for a way to better connect with fans, Celebrities such as Charlie Sheen, Alec Baldwin and Lily Allen have since signed-off their account for good.
In a New York Times article, Seth Meyers, a Los Angeles clinical psychologist who counts several celebrities among his patients, explained the dropping number in high-profile tweeters.
“Sharing so much often backfires and invites negative response, which is difficult for most celebrities to take in,” said Meyers. “They quit Twitter, or their publicist tells them they need to quit for the sake of their career.”
Much like Adam’s, many celebrities do not comprehend the magnitude of their following and just how many people can read what they tweet, and share it to others. Also, Twitter archives tweets, so even if they are deleted the site can still pull them up if needed.
James Franco, one of Hollywood’s hottest young actors, quit Facebook after tweeting some unflattering remarks, and off-color posts.
“’My thought was: ‘This is my Twitter. I can do whatever I want,’ ” said Franco in an April 2011 interview. “But certain companies I work with contacted me about what I was saying.”
Does this mean the end for Twitter? Are we perhaps living in an era where users are providing too much information? Meyers doesn’t think so, as he notes that many celebrities return to twitter, like a boomerang. Users like John Mayer, Miley Cyrus and Chris Brown have returned from short-term hiatus. Even Adams has returned to Twitter, his account unsuspended as he continues to tweet about the 2012 Olympics.
Why do users keep coming back even after such major gaffs? Meyer claims it has to do with the fact that famous people love a following.
“For some celebrities,” he said, “they go back to Twitter because they need the attention and the audience.”
Meyer’s claims that the draw of twitter is the constant feedback from others, and the instant gratification creates a feeling of being important. Especially for high-profile celebrities and journalist, having a following and being able to cause controversy feeds directly into their narcissism, allowing them to “keep up their grandiose image of themselves.”
The lure of Twitter could lie within the inner narcissist of not just high-profile users, who are attracted to the attention, but everyday users. They keep coming back, constantly tweeting, and always following. Twitter has evolved to become more than newsfeed of what people had for breakfast, or pictures of their desks, it has become a soap box for everyone can yell their opinions into a crowd. And while blunders are embarrassing, deep down users enjoy being burnt for what they’ve tweeted because it means someone was listening.