The above image comes from an exchange that I saw on Twitter on last night (2/17/09). Francois Gossieaux, @fgossieaux, is a very smart guy that I started following a couple of weeks ago, and I have to admit that I was more than a little surprised to see what he re-Tweeted from @pbrannigan, who took umbrage at a perceived slight directed towards her ill pet, and fired off the above. Her account is now locked so we, who are not among her followers, can no longer see her Tweets, and her Blogspot blog for her company is no longer in her profile. Obviously she’s gone to ground in the wake of her outburst which shows bad form and a certain, unattractive, xenophobic, intemperance.
As a self-professed social media expert @pbrannigan should have known that the first rule of social media (as I intuit them from participating in it) is to be social — interact, share, comment. The second rule, maybe even rule 1a), is to be polite. As in other parts of our lives, both social and professional (and Twitter blurs that line) sometimes it’s best to just walk away, or bite ones tongue. Don’t write something that you will regret later because the quote never really goes away, it lives on, cached forever, or propagated for all time in perfect digital fidelity (see above). One final thought about this little incident is that by and large most of the exchanges I see on Twitter are really positive, upbeat and helpful. It’s great to participate in such an atmosphere, and that’s the power of the social space. People work and play in it in order to help and learn and communicate. There is a tremendous civility in communities like Twitter — even if, occasionally, some fire-ants invade the picnic — and that’s refreshing, because civility seems to be increasingly uncommon in our culture.