More and more we are seeing tweeting become part our everyday life. From sharing information about disasters and revolutions to informing followers of your breakfast menu or latest crush, like it or not, some form of micro-blogging is probably here to stay.
One of the ways that tweeting is seeping into our day-to-day is through the live-tweeting of meetings, classes and church worship services. Now I am not talking about live-tweeting a conference or some other event that WANTS you to help get the word out, but smaller types of gatherings where there is an expectation that you are paying attention to what is going in the room and may be expected to participate in some kind of discussion and/or deliberations.
The obvious and easiest reaction is to simply forbid tweeting, but as we all know this can be a slippery slope and can give other folks certain strategic advantages. Now I might even agree that as long as everyone was off the grid – turn off classroom wireless and instruct folks that we are offline – creating a twiiter-free zone has it’s place, but for the most part, I think coming to a consensus about appropriate usage is the better way to go . . . thus this list.
So here is my list of ways that you can use this tool well in the context of a class, meeting or worship service.
- BE PRESENT – Your primary job is be present in that space. Twitter should enhance, but not distract, so if you find yourself wandering off from the topic or focus, shut it down.
- HONOR CONFIDENTIALITY – Be sure you can read whether there is some explicit or understood sense of confidentiality. Closed business meeting are clear, but when there is no stated understanding, you should be careful when dealing with deep personal stories in any context. I think you can respond to a story you heard if it moved/touched you, but not every story is yours to tell.
- USE FAVORITING – This is the single best “tip” for those that tweet during these kinds of events. To remain present, fight the urge to follow and respond to your tweet stream. I know that there is a reason that you follow people, but just click on that little “favorite” star and go back to it later in the day.
- BE DISCREET – Don’t be tacky. No one likes having “texting guy” sitting next to him with the phone all up at eye-level so everyone can see that he is cool 😉 Again, most of these gatherings are NOT about you, so don’t draw attention to yourself. This may mean that as you are tweeting, as if you were taking notes, simply make eye contact from time-to-time and occasionally take in your surroundings.
- USE TAGS – One of the most frustrating things is for many folks to be live-tweeting a gathering and folks are not using tags or are using different ones. If a central element of tweeting is to help spread information and engage in some discourse, please be sure folks can find the info. #pleaseuseyourhashtags
- QUOTE CORRECTLY – Please be sure that when you are quoting someone, you get it right. If it was a quote worth passing on, others will quote it as well, but just be careful. Also please to include the speakers twitter name if you have it.
- REMEMBER IT IS PUBLIC – Now it seems that this should be understood by now, but there is always room for reminders about the public nature of online interaction. Tweeting is transparency at it’s core, so be sure that you would be willing to say in public what you tweet online. In the same way, this is the joy of tweeting. You can posit your thoughts, questions and responses in order the engagement can be deeper and more broad in its reach.
- BUILD UP – I am a big proponent of using all of these social networking tools to build up community. And while there is a place for challenging and righteous indignation, tweeting hateful or hurtful comments to matter how witty we might think it is, is not helpful in these kinds of situations. For instance, after someone asks a questions in class, tweeting “Man, he is an idiot!” may not add to the building up of community . . . even if it is true 😉
- DON’T OVER DO IT – Again, being at a larger conference or gathering where twittering is expected, tweeting at too high of a rate makes it obvious that you are not fully engaging in the process at hand. If there are deliberations going on, leave other observers to do the play-by-play, but you should remember #1 from above.
- REMEMBER ITS JUST A TOOL – The most important thing to remember about any of these new technologies – as totally freaking awesome as they are 😉 – is that they are simply tools, nothing more. These can be used to move communities forward in ways that we could not have imagined only years before, but the technology should never be the focal point. Use it well.
Okay, that’s it. Please feel free to add your thought with a comment or twitter them and tag with #twetiquette. If there are some more good ones I’ll expand the list.