Monday, 12 November 2012

#ThinkBeforeTweeting ... Freedom Of Speech


First and foremost thank you for the incredible response my last blog article called ‘Just another reason you should (not) be on Twitter’ has received, so on the strength of that feedback I have decided to continue this topic which has now become a # Hashtag on Twitter.

The real question is do we actually think before we tweet? Remembering that Twitter is only 140 characters and if you can’t say it in one Tweet you cannot say it on Twitter.

In reality I am probably a lurker of many people on Twitter - some say great things, others have points of view that are not my own and some are not consistent and that makes following difficult, but in some cases I soldier on.

My story today goes around a young lady entrepreneur in the fashion industry, she is hip and happening, one would consider her an A-lister in the social circles, she is inspirational and has a blog that is as diverse as it is fresh. She never fails to come up with the goods and I am sure her following is both young and old. 

Then last night during the St Francis Fires a few people were Tweeting messages similar to this - “St Francis Bay inferno - our thoughts are with the whole community!” and her response to this was as follows; “As if the people whose houses are burning will have time to worry about your thoughts - Idiots”

I respond by “Saying that your Tweets are great but, I am sure that your Tweet about St. Francis Fires will not do wonders for your brand - you should apologize before its too late! 

As I expected I got no response, okay it was late and she could have been in bed already, but I did get the following Tweet from her brother or someone with the same surname who is some corporate lawyer at some large firm in Johannesburg saying “Who must she apologise to? You? Freedom of speech, accept it and deal with it ... “

Needless to say the corporate lawyer deleted his Tweet by the morning.

I had to ask myself could this be the same lawyer that might of advised our two South African friends who were suspended last week; that it is okay to say what you want cause we have freedom of speech. 

No it is not okay to say what you want regardless of what you think your rights are to freedom of speech or what your lawyer says. 

Simply because we are dealing with people, the audiences have disappeared and we need to be accountable not only to the people who listen but also to ourselves. We need to ask what is the authentic message we say when we are insensitive to others - making others feel less at our expense is not freedom of speech it is just downright rude.