If my grandma could, she’d offer some advice

This week I’ve deliberately taken a bit of time out of Twitter, both because of uni commitments and also because sometimes it gets very addictive!

In stepping back and reflecting, I’ve come to the realisation that when it’s used really effectively, Twitter is a great place to share information, news, and build a community.

We’ve all got our own favourites who we instinctively look for in our Twitter stream or have in our own lists – the people or organisations who we know really offer themselves and engage.

As I tried to step back this week a bit from Twitter, two things struck me as I made an effort to scan the various feeds.

The first is that some people can’t spell and don’t bother checking their tweets as they type. It’s sloppy, it looks bad, and on platforms like TweetDeck, for instance, it’s pretty hard not to notice that “alot”, for example, is not a word. One huge pet hate of mine, which I’ve raised amiably before on Twitter, is the incorrect uses of words like “they’re”, “there” and “their”. “Your” and “you’re” are two others that seem to be a favourite of people who, for, whatever reason, either don’t know the difference, or can’t be bothered thinking about the correct spelling.

Is it that hard – or I wonder if I’m just a pedant about spelling, having parents who were teachers and then having worked for school principals for three years. Perhaps I am being too harsh, and yes, I bet there are a few spelling mistakes on this blog and some on my tweets.

Another, and even more annoying trend I saw was people having a biff at people on TV and using their Twitter-handles to mention them. One person I follow seemed to think it was ok to offer insights into the professional skills of a TV interviewer, completely missing the point that they’d neither ever worked in politics or the media, but did seem to think it was okay to caustically analyse this interviewer’s skills, their clothes and their hair. We all have our opinions, and I’m the first to put my hand up and observe that on this very blog some of my comments about various selections and policy of generational change of the Australian cricket team have been passionate, direct and done from the complete safety of my armchair, ensconced with the knowledge I was an okay grade umpire in Canberra, and a bloody appalling school boy cricketer / footballer / swimmer / and cross country participant – this however, was a rant and a half, delivered almost without pause. Perhaps an option would’ve been to do the seemingly unthinkable – change channel. Or perhaps, the cynic in me argues, that would’ve been too easy.

In recent times, we’ve seen two radio hosts in Perth sacked for Twitter rants. In recent times we’ve seen the leader of a national lobby group criticised for the airing of certain views. The Logies in 2010 saw the end of a columnist’s time with The Age – and the list goes on.

I love Twitter, I love the exchange of ideas from #leadershipchat, the laughs my friends share with me, the very fine professionals who I’ve been fortunate to meet through various social media functions and by becoming involved with organisations I’ve connected with through Twitter. I believe Twitter has a transformative ability, but there is also a propensity for us to engage our typing fingers before sometimes engaging our brains.

The usefulness of Twitter is not the platform itself – but how useful we make it; how we, as the people who use it, make it a place for ideas, of news, and of sharing – exactly the same as if we were hanging around the office water cooler or coffee machine, or the village square.

So perhaps a suggestion, to quote my grandmother: “If you’ve got nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all” – and if you can’t be bothered spelling correctly, perhaps you shouldn’t be surprised if people can’t be bothered following you.