To Tweet or Not to Tweet? That is the Question.

The road less traveled?  My destination.

The road less traveled? A simplier life.

I’ve been hearing a lot about Twitter these days.  Discussions in an ExecuNet forum regarding how companies could use it to gather information about employee viewpoints have been particularly interesting.  At the same time I’ve been following another discussion regarding the up-take of technology (aka how quickly tech is implemented).  One individual in particular has been very vociferous as to their view that companies need to move to new technology faster.  While I did not publicly respond, my internal mental response was 1) that is not always a benefit to be a first mover and 2) you want to integrate technology when it makes strategic sense, not just because it is available.  All the fervor over Twitter and the speed of technological up-take made me stop and think about one word.  Why.

  • Why would I want to be on Twitter?  Hum…  It is a communication mechanism.  I’ve heard others talk about using it to develop business relationships so that made me think maybe. 
  • Why wouldn’t I want to be on Twitter?  Hum…  Because it seems like it uses a lot of push technology.  I get enough e-mails. 
  • Why do I need to see “tweets”? 
  • Why would people send tweets to me, i.e. what is their motivation? 

Decisions regarding whether to use Technology should be made strategically.  This applies to personal life as well as professional life. 

  • How might I use it?  If I’m meeting someone for dinner and I’m late or need the address, I suppose we could “tweet” back and forth.  But we could also just call each other on the cell phones.  Wouldn’t that be faster and more efficient?   
  • Would I want to get pinged constantly with updates?  It is an interruption to my work. 
  • What’s the impact of the interruption?  Does the impact outweight the cost? 
  • Do I need to know what people are doing every 20 minutes? 
  • Is this a good use of my time? 

While I understand the mechanics of Twitter, I’m not sure I “get” the value.  From what I’ve heard (granted, second hand) people are being pinged constantly and that would not bode well for me getting my work done.  So with my limited understanding, second hand knowledge, and thoughts about what was important to me in hand I concluded “not right now”.  As with other strategic technology decisions it is something I’ll revisit again but I’ve put aside “worrying” about it for now.

I then moved on to the myriad of other things swirling around in my head…

  • How much time do we really spend thinking about the communication tool we are using: 1) whether it is the right one for what we are doing and 2) if we should change our tools/methods? 
  • Why don’t people change tools/methods?  Typically they respond to emails or tweets.  Wouldn’t picking up a phone be faster in many cases?  Why don’t they make that change?  What drives this behavior? 
  • Is there a generational difference in who uses Twitter?  Or, rather who developed the program and launched it.  If you think about Facebook, it’s my understanding/memory that it was started as a way to keep in touch with friends.  I remember hearing about it for years before I joined in (just a few months ago). 
  • The latest gen seems to be text message addicts.  Why?  What’s the impact on their social skills?  How does this impact their focus on the job (if they have one)?
  • How does the interpersonal communication style of each generation affect them in their business and work life? 

One pool I was recently at had lifeguards texting while on duty.  I don’t know about what you think, but I’d rather have them watch out for the safety of the kids in the pool.

  • Twitter today, texting before that, and email before texting is suppose to create “faster/more efficient” ways for us to communicate.  Do they really?
  • While it may be more efficient in some cases, are these new communication tools possibly doing more harm than good?
  • How much of our feelings of being overwhelmed is something that we are unconsciously doing to ourselves?
  • How much of the massive on-line exchanges currently occurring is being driven by those individuals currently out of work?  Would the traffic be significantly impacted if they were to find jobs? 
  • Do habits develop while being unemployed carry into employment time?  How much does this contribute to some of the massive amounts of work related stress being reported?

You personally will need to answer the question of how you want to be connected, how you want to spend your time, and what is valuable for you to participate in.  I’ve decided that I need to find ways to simplify my own life – to get back some desperately needed family time.  To go the road less traveled these days.  I want to have F2F conversations with my spouse, not just talk over email.  Not only have I felt this, but one daughter has commented multiple times this past week that I am always working.  It’s time that I start my own behavioral revolution.  That I take action in order to have more time with my family.  So I’ve decided I’ll:

  • Change my LI and FB settings to get less “pushed” to me. 
  • Access LI and FB to interact when I have the time, rather than allowing them to regularly interrupt my day.
  • Think more about what I put on FB.  Do my friends really need to read that?
  • Get on FB for 5-10 mins in the morning to connect with friends and start with a smile.  Again at the end of the day for another. 
  • Use LI with my business associates and sync my Contacts and Connections. 
  • Skip using MS in lieu of my home space. 
  • Bonk noses with, hug, and play games with my kids rather than Tweet – at least for now (i’m not sure they will still enjoy nose bonks when they hit puberty).
  • Look at the RSS feeds and reduce autofeeds.  Including those that came pre-installed on this PC.
  • Get my email accounts and phone email accounts cleared out. 
  • Create a “To-do When Time” folder in my email and move things that don’t attention within the next 48 hours to there.  I’m tired of looking at my very full email and reading the same subject lines over and over.
  • Ask myself more frequently if a phone call wouldn’t be better.
  • Respond, delete, move, or file emails as much as possible when I first look at them.  If I leave it in the in-box. I’m giving myself 48 hours or less to respond or address it.

So tonight we’ll go back in time to a simplier lifestyle.  I’ll power down the PC and cell phones, I’ll cook dinner (maybe), we’ll sit together at the table, we’ll play a board game afterwards.  I’ll make time for us, not the millions of others out there.  One step at a time, one day at a time, I’m taking back my life.

For those of you who wondered – yes, the title is a spin on the Shakespeare quote “To be or not to be, that is the question.”  If you are interested in Hamlet’s speech and have some time to ponder other things, you can go here to see the quote.

A Shout Out of Thanks to Scott for his reaction to my draft of this blog.  I eagerly await his response to this post as well as the possibility of dragging him in to be a guest blogger.  Another tactic to take back my life…

Categories : Personnel Skills


  1. Faith,

    First, congratulations on the launch of your website! It is pretty impressive. Also, thank you for the “shout out” in your post.

    This is an important topic, particularly for those running businesses. As we all know, client and customer perceptions, both internal and external, are based fundamentally on the interactions between individual people. It is in this light that I am particularly concerned with where the increasing use and reliance on impersonal communications takes us.

    Email, chatting and now tweeting have a place. However, they will NEVER replace personal one-to-one communication. My fear is that we are seeing a new generation enter the business world that no longer knows how to communicate personally OR professionally! We have all heard the stories of college students who have to be told that “IM chat-speak” is NOT acceptable for papers and other professional publications.

    Now what happens when individuals bring these same skills to the office? What happens when they communicate with our Customers and clients? This is a new challenge that we all have to deal with as business coaches and consultants, not to mention parents, teachers, and business owners/leaders.

    The first step is to recognize it! It is real! The next step is to deal with it. Overlook it at your own risk/peril.

Guiding Principles

- Think Holistically
- Seek the Root Causes
- Respect the Individual
- Demonstrate Accountability
- Collaborate with Clients
- Work with Integrity, Always
- Relate to the Business Strategy
- Ensure Alignment
- Demonstrate Responsibility
- Transfer Skills

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