What is it about Twitter that gets grown adults who should know better into trouble? Twitter’s not the only culprit either; social media seems to amplify the best and worst in people.
One of the most recent examples of this is Oprah Winfrey’s recent Tweet urging families with Nielsen boxes to watch her OWN network, which is in direct violation of the ratings group’s rules. As a television veteran, owner of a television channel that bears her name, and all around media tycoon, Oprah surely knew and understood that a direct appeal to viewers with Nielsen boxes is strictly off limits. After sending the plea via Twitter, Oprah was contacted by the folks at Nielsen and she deleted the post, issuing a statement that she meant “no harm.”
There are a number of other examples from the worlds of politics, celebrity, and sports. There seems to be something about typing your thoughts into a 140-character message that removes the filter from our brains and just lets anything out. The immediacy and conciseness of the medium lends itself to snarky, off-the-cuff comments many would expect to hear walking down a high school hallway. Sure some of these may be more serious gaffs than others, and some may even be manufactured, but what the heck are these folks thinking?
My grandmother used to say, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Another great piece of advice I received from a boss was to walk away from the computer before hitting send on an emotionally charged email. So why can’t these big wigs figure it out?
Maybe our immediate access to our gadgets, ever-present and ubiquitous, are part of the problem. They become little extensions of our minds, filled with all the data, entertainment, and contacts that make up our personal and professional worlds. It’s so easy to just babble in text form and spout off whatever pops into your head. Whatever the cause, I’m sure Oprah’s recent troubles are not the last social media scandal we’ll see making headlines.