I’m not a big Twitter user. I have an account, but I rarely tweet. From time to time, I check my notifications because Twitter sends me an email telling me to. But I am fully aware that many people rely on Twitter almost exclusively to communicate, with the Tweeter-in-Chief being a notable example.
One has to wonder what these people did before they had Twitter as a vehicle. Did they keep their observations, comments and opinions bottled up inside until they exploded? Probably not. More likely, they voiced their opinions face to face or in email, which would at least limit the potential audience, for better or worse.
But it seems to me that some of these Twittiots occasionally fall into a delusional state wherein they believe that they are tweeting back and forth with another tweeter as if nobody else could be privy to the conversation. The recent news about Roseanne Barr is a perfect case in point, but she is merely the latest Twitter roadkill.
Google “apologizes for tweet” and you’ll find dozens (if not hundreds) of people who have felt the need to apologize for an offensive tweet. Most have not lost a $250,000 per week job as a result. In that, Roseanne is a stand out. And she gives a textbook example of how not to respond to a twitter storm.
If you find yourself in such a predicament, delete the tweet, apologize in another tweet without blaming anyone or anything else, and go on a device-free vacation for at least a month – maybe six. Do not, as Roseanne did, try to explain why your egregious behavior was not really your fault. After apologizing for her “bad taste,” Roseanne now claims that she was in an Ambien-induced fog when her fingers – acting independently of her brain, apparently – tapped out an outrageously offensive slur about Valerie Jarrett. Clearly, she implies, the blame should be directed at Sanofi Pharmaceuticals, not her.
Here’s another thing to Google: “Ambien Defense.” You’ll find pages and pages of stories about people blaming their behavior (sometimes in a court trial) on an updated version of the old Flip Wilson stand up routine: “The Devil Ambien Made Me Do It!”
Perhaps when you were in college, you had this experience. You invite some friends to your off-campus home for a party, and one of the guests breaks furniture, throws up on the sofa and tries to get kissy-kissy with other guests until you have to throw him out the door. The next day, he calls to apologize. “I’m so sorry, I guess I was really bombed,” he explains, as if that excuses his loutish behavior. It doesn’t replace the end table or get the pizza puke out of the cushions, but hey, it wasn’t his fault, it was the nine Jack-and-Gingers. Would you invite him back?
Evidently, Roseanne missed that party, and never learned that actions have consequences. And once you cross the line between annoying and tasteless to unconscionable and unforgivable, you’ll stay there for a long time. If a tweet is causing such a stir that you feel compelled to delete it, it’s already too late. It has been retweeted, screen-grabbed and reported everywhere. And nothing dies on Google. No matter what else she does with her life, no matter how near she comes to papal beatification, every Google search of Roseanne’s name will bring up this wretched story.
Twitter can be a very effective means of keeping yourself or your product fresh in people’s minds. But never forget that it can have a nasty side. Remember Roy Horn of Siegfried and Roy? Think of Twitter as a circus tiger you think you’ve tamed until it rips your throat out in front of a live audience.
Categories: Random PR Thoughts