Posts Tagged MASH

Tweets and tee shirts in America

The tee shirt said, “Mind if I Tweet this?” underneath an AIG logo.

I may have been the only one in the coffee shop today that appreciated the humor and gravitas of it. The kid wearing it was probably more concerned about how to ride his skate board out of the store while drinking his fuzzy little latte and still maintain his street cred.

As one who has been Tweeting (yes, that’s the current parlance for using Twitter to update your followers on your every breath) for a few months now, it was only just then that it occurred to me to ask where the heck this is all going?

Twitter Logo

Ten years ago, I was sitting on a cross town bus in Manhattan thinking I was Internet cool with my messenger bag and Motorola StarTac phone rigged to the shoulder strap. Mind you, most of the world at that point wasn’t slinging around a $400 phone let alone text messaging or Tweeting. When I answered my clamshell phone as we were pulling away from 72nd and 1st, a woman that I swear looked like an actress from M*A*S*H (not Loretta Swit, the other woman) leaned back and flamed me with the look of death. Her scowl made it clear that in her world view the cell phone and all it represented – always on contact with the free world – was the spawn of Satan itself.

I remember thinking to myself “Hey, what if you needed me to call 911 and save your ass with this phone? You wouldn’t hate it then. Now, weren’t you in M*A*S*H?”

None of that escaped my lips because she kind of frightened me. I just kept talking to my business partner about some JavaScripting and XML mumbo jumbo that probably pissed her off even more. This little Asian dude not only is talking on my bus, he’s plotting world domination with XML!

The StarTac has since been replaced as the bad ass mobile accessory by the BlackBerry and iPhone. And as annoying as the ubiquity of cell phones can be, it’s hard to argue against the safety and social benefits they’ve come to provide. It’s been well chronicled how mobiles played a role in helping passengers commandeer the flight headed to the Pentagon on 9/11. And personally, I’ve more than once called emergency services for stranded motorists. I’m an extreme commuter and have the utmost empathy for that guy walking down the shoulder with a gas can in hand. No one wants to be there so that guy gets my help every day of the week and 9 times on Sunday.

So what about Twitter?

This dude’s tee shirt hinted to more than just the joke that is AIG today. But it flirted with the idea of what role Tweeting might play as part of the Fourth Estate. Unlike news papers, Tweeting is hyper-real time. Unlike text messaging, Tweeting is one to many – many of whom can be the news media, government regulators and other influencers. Unlike online media, devices to Tweet from are now in every employee’s pockets in every corporate meeting in America. Someone, dozes off or says something untoward in a meeting, he’s free game in today’s Tweet happy world.

Greed, as it turns out, is not good.

Greed, as it turns out, is not good.

What if iPhone Tweeters were inside AIG? Inside Enron? Could those meltdowns have been averted by whistle Tweeting insiders?

I’m not sure where this is all going. But those are the questions that ran through my head as I was watching this guy skate out of the Peet’s. They’re interesting questions.

I ask because in the past month or so, I’ve seen a shift in the Tweets of the 80 people I follow. Unlike 3-4 months ago when everyone was just pushing out cool articles or links to fun web sites, now I’m starting to see people Tweet what’s going on right in front of them wherever they might be. I’m guilty as charged.

I Tweeted the cigarette smoke-filled Dodge Ram 2500 that cut me off with the “Yes on 8” bumper sticker it. I wasn’t angry so much as in awe of his magnificently un-PC persona in what is easily the most PC place in the world.

Not exactly a social benefit or crisis aversion tack my Tweet, but it happened and the 95 people on my Twitter feed experienced it with me in real time. The best part about Twitter is I can quietly Tweet the ill-matched socks of any has been actor on any bus in America. Because, just like that Dodge driver has the right to smoke cigarettes and vote as he sees fit, I have the right to Tweet his bad driving.

– Jose Mallabo

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