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Can we stop being so defensive about the tools we use?

This is a bit of a rant about something that is occuring all too frequently these days on my favourite social tool – Twitter. Yesterday an article in the Globe & Mail by Margaret Wente appeared that questioned, in her particular snarky tone of voice, the value of Twitter. You would have thought she questioned the cuteness of puppies by the vehement reaction by the Canadian Twitterverse. Update after update sought to match her snide tone and “set her straight”. It was an over-the-top reaction to a piece that in the grand scheme of things was just one persons opinion based on the plethora of mainstream media attention Twitter has been getting recently as the “next Internet phenom!!”. 

We really need to stop being so defensive. It’s a tool some of us use. It’s not for everyone after all and none of us own stocks.

Sure, it would have been nice if Wente had spent more time getting to know the tool before writing a piece about it, but let’s not forget that not every one has hours to spend figuring out the ins and outs of what is a highly charged, established community who are quite vocal when they deem you aren’t using it right. Not every one wants to either. If we cheer when Twitter makes the Wall Street Journal or The Star, are we not asking the general public to join based on what they’re reading? As with anything in life (and marketers should really know this already) people go through phases before deciding to buy (or join). Sure, we’d *like* them to take a test drive, but sometimes we have to rely on the dry specs and pretty pictures to even get on their consideration list. So Wente (who most likely has been hearing about the wonders of new media and Twitter from her colleague Mathew Ingram for months now) checked out the public stream and wasn’t impressed. Not surprising, there’s a lot of updates there about what people are having for lunch, and unless you have a group of people for whom you care about what they’re having for lunch, it really would seem silly for the lay person if we’re being honest. Of course that isn’t the *only* thing happening on Twitter, and not the reason I use it (I’ve explained before here and in an interview on CityNews recently why I use Twitter), but it takes a lot of time and energy to build that network… and maybe that isn’t time some people want to invest, or know they have to. Twitter works when it’s a conversation vs a monologue and perhaps, just perhaps, someone may have other channels they use when they want to converse. 

Let’s also add some perspective to the time investment using Twitter properly is – some people may not be able to bill clients for the hours upon hours they spend using the tool each day either, because they aren’t in marketing communications, PR, or customer service (or an entrepreneur, artist, etc.). Let’s keep that in mind when we jump all over people for not “getting” the tool.

I’m not a fan of Wente’s writing (or opinions) for the most part, but I recognize frustration with over-hype when I read it, and that’s what her piece felt like to me. I also wonder why no one called out the most glaring thing in regards to her article — she asked @biz (the guy who OWNS Twitter) for a chance to interview him the day before the piece ran. Did he care enough to defend it, or even respond? Perhaps her view of Twitter may have been different if the guy with the vested interest in getting positive coverage of his business by Canada’s largest daily paper had gotten back to her.

Twitter is for some, not for others, and it would be productive in my view to allow that there is more than one way to use the tool, or not. 

Also, that everyone is entitled to form an opinion based on what they read/ see. It’s up to the community to convince people the tool is right for them if we are going to get so defensive when they don’t “get it” and vocalize that, question it, or poke fun at it.

[photo credit: merwing via Flickr]

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Comments (8) to “Can we stop being so defensive about the tools we use?”

  1. I think the issue for some, is that Twitter has become internalized as a part of our identity. When we see it misrepresented in main stream media, we react so negatively because we feel *we* are being misrepresented to our friends and families.

    BTW, I’m not suggesting it’s either good or bad that this internalization has happened. But it certainly has.

  2. As to why he probably didn’t respond to @pwente. She had no avatar, no short profile, no web link and a few messages. I’d venture that the message looked a lot like spam. Of course, I am also not in the “when the media calls you, you just jump” camp. I agree that twitter isn’t the be all and end all of media. It’s interesting and popular right now. Above all, I think that Wente did her job, People are reading and thinking. Thanks for your post. Rt

  3. I’ll just repeat what i said yesterday. I don’t think you can have an informed opinion particularly on new communication platforms with out using it for a while. The dynamics understood by experience…

    And as for not having the time – if she’s writing an article (vs. having a chat with her friends over dinner) i would suggest it’s her JOB to use it for a while. So i just think she did her job poorly.

    It has nothing to do with defending Twitter.

    (oh and ps. when i wrote my comment last night that i would being ok after she used it to say it was dumb – i had about 8 people unsubscribe from my Twitter feed….so i do think the Twitter crowd is a bit over the top as you state – i just don’t happen to be in the “pple can’t have differing opinions” camp – i just would prefer those differing opinions were based on something meaningful – like actually using the product for a while :)

  4. Okay. Seriously.

    If I was to get my knickers in a twist over everyone who questions the technologies I use in a day to day work environment the first people I would have to castigate, would be my parents…

    Instead I have chosen to keep my parents around for a multitude of other reasons.

    Lets move on here… gah.

  5. C’mon, Tamera – rising up with snarky anger to defend something they love is something internet users do best!

  6. I viewed her piece as a traditional criticism of new ideas and technologies, with Twitter as the current scapegoat. Defending Twitter itself seems foolish, but defending the idea of enhanced communication, regardless of the tools use, is a good idea.

  7. What’s ludicrous is to dismiss an entire medium because of your perception of the quality of information it has to offer.

    I get some pretty ridiculous, useless phone calls, but I’m not throwing away my telephone (yet).

  8. I completely agree that twitter is not for everyone and that us users don’t have to rage everytime someone says something remotely bad about it. I have a ton of friends that are just starting to use it and many of them always say “I don’t get it.” I tell them that they have to just experiment until they find a way to make it work for them. Of course that’s not always the case. I have some friends who I will straight up tell that there’s really nothing in it for them and there’s no real reason for them to be on it.
    I found a way to make twitter work for me and I’m happy with that, but I’m not everyone and I can’t promise the same results for everyone.

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