A red line for tweets
Heads of state routinely use Twitter to communicate sensitive and important information. Using Twitter to do so is exceedingly inappropriate and undignified.
Last week, alone, President Obama took to Twitter to commemorate the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks while David Cameron used Twitter to express his thoughts and feelings about a UK journalist who was beheaded.
By using this form of communication, the dignitary diminishes the gravity of his words by turning his message into a 140-character-or-less slogan. And if he can’t fit his message into that limit, he overflows onto a second follow-up tweet, as Cameron did this week. It is completely adolescent.
Would a person send a half-written condolence card with the other half of the message sent on a second card? What kind of shoddy communication is this? Don’t citizens, no less the families of loved ones who have died at the hands of savages, deserve better?
And shouldn’t important messages be devoid of inane visual clutter? Do we really want to express thoughts about death, battle, human suffering, genocide, and the like on an image that includes a cheerful little blue bird? Not to mention that as tweets are re-tweeted they are often accompanied by avatars that defy the somber message.
It is also deplorable that tweets sent from government officials pop up on the recipient’s end amidst a barrage of messages from all manner of folk that contain mindless chatter about the minutia of everyday life.
What one says, matters. How one says it matters just as much, both in tone, body language, and the method of communication.
Twitter is unfit for many things, including world leaders making grave announcements. Such statements should be thoughtfully written using the number of words necessary to say what needs to be said. And the message should be presented in a dignified manner, in an appropriate setting.