As I am still puzzling over a recent “event” I experienced on Twitter, I thought I’d blog it out and see what anyone else thinks.  The event was an emotional backlash to one of the posts on Esse Diem from a new follower on my Twitter account.  As he followed me first, I naively assumed he had positive intent. 

Twitter: The etiquette is unwritten, but it is real.

Positive intent for me does not equate with agreeing with everything I express; in fact, some of the most helpful comments I get from readers of this blog have been critiques and questions about my thought process and conclusions.  This Twitter thing was something different. 

Rather than ask questions on the blog, this fellow retweeted my post with nearly hysterical questions, accusations, and sarcasm.  There were lots of exclamation points and question marks.  He managed to focus on one illustration of a larger argument and avoid the real point of the post.  In essence, rather than engage me directly he chose to advertise me to his followers as a nitwit.  When I asked him about it later he told me he was not upset — which is odd, because he certainly came across as very stirred up and angry.  I would not like to encounter him when he is actually troubled. 

I’ve since spent a little time trying to figure out why he uses Twitter, and I detect a pattern of doing to others what he did to me.  He likes to follow people he doesn’t agree with and then use that connection to try to discredit the ideas rather than to build rapport and understanding.  In fairness to him, this is a common use of Twitter among many people; it’s also disappointing, but it is a risk people take when they publicly “own” their work, especially online. 

This is not a media empire (yet).  It is one thing to RT (retweet) faceless corporations with whom you never have a prayer of actually communicating and hashtagging their tweets with smart aleck phrases.  And this is the United States of America — anyone is free to RT my tweets and label them any way they choose.  That is the game, and if you don’t know it when you engage you will learn it sooner or later.  It does seem, though, that when individuals engage there ought to still be an understood environment of respect everyone can reasonably anticipate.  It seems even more reasonable to expect this from others who live in your tiny state of 1.8 million people. 

If you are looking for accounts that demonstrate the very best professional execution of Twitter, I can recommend @bobcofffield (health care law blogger + local interest advocacy), @createwv (statewide grassroots organization), @CartneyWV (social media strategy + politics + fashion), @DanSchawbel (big time millenial personal branding), @lineberg (personal + marketing + fitness), @DUKEPress (academia + publishing + humor) and @mistygirlph (social media + reciprocity) for starters.  Each of these people have figured out what they want to do with Twitter, and they do it well.  They all use Twitter differently, but they are each professional, organized, and effective. 

There are many great accounts, and it is worthwhile to follow people who know what they are doing and just watch and learn.  Much of what you can learn is style-driven as much or more than content-driven — how do you feel when you read their tweets?  What words in tweets make you bother to read or RT versus just scan by?  A great tweet just today from @mistygirlph included “15 Reasons to Love Twitter,” with number 14 being “Receive kindness and love 24-7.”  A-HEM……….. 

As a professional, I like Twitter because it is an opportunity to discover new people who can teach me things and to find new resources that can enrich my life.  I also like the general environment of civility and etiquette.  It’s odd, but it’s pervasive in my favorite accounts.  Lots of please and thank you, lots of credit given to others and return favors delivered.  It’s a community of strange P’s and Q’s.  But in a world that has lost nearly all of those kinds of things, it’s a pocket of politeness and professionalism that I enjoy.  

Of course, I was never following John Mayer .  It pays to choose wisely.

Erudite…that’s goes with ranch dip, right?

There are times you read something truly amusing and you may never really know if the person who conjured it was trying to be funny; then there are times you know.

Brooks McCabe

Yesterday I read a tweet by @BrooksMcCabeWV that still has me laughing.  He had my vote for the next governor of West Virginia long before this, but now I can just tell one story and explain why he is the man for me, as well as why I believe he is the candidate our state needs in that office.

The tweet was a faux head-scratching over a journalist’s evaulation of him as “too erudite” for most voters.  The exact critique was this:

McCabe has some minuses as a candidate — he doesn’t exactly take command of the room when he enters, and with a doctoral degree from WVU, he can come off a bit too erudite for his audiences.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of a governor “taking command of the room.”  It’s philistine and tiresome and more often than not a glaring wart on a man’s character if he has to act that way.  The story I heard from the business summit at The Greenbrier was that McCabe quietly took a few steps up in a large hallway and, un-mic’ed, began talking about his vision for West Virginia.  He gathered a large group that soon crowded the area and listened to him intently and respectfully.  My clearance goes through rumor, but I also understand that quiet talk generated $20K in campaign support on the spot.

There will always be people who need someone to “take” command of them; who look for a big guy with too much hair product and a macho background to make them feel taken care of and important.  West Virginia has no shortage of these dudes salivating in the wings.   Then there are other people who appreciate a leader with an education, a respectful mild-mannered approach to others, and a flawless wit.  That leader is Brooks McCabe.

His tweet?  “Looking up ‘erudite’ in the dictionary.”  You gotta love it.