A TechCrunch article: So, Recode reported today that Twitter was tinkering around with the idea of expanding its 140 character limit to a number a bit higher….10,000 characters. But what,...
Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press:
On the 10-year anniversary of the revolutionary social media device, how has tweeting changed us as fans?
Twitter turned 10 this week. And while there’s some merit in the revolutionary communications platform offering a voice to the disenfranchised, its immense popularity within the larger sports community over the past decade attests to its attraction to the hopelessly self-absorbed.
It has elevated a greater sense of “Us” in certain social and political discourses. But in the mock importance of the sports landscape, it has too often devolved into mindless rants all about “Me.”
It’s why LeBron James and Jim Harbaugh’s collective social media clumsiness served as the perfect Twitter birthday gift this week. Both have pushed boundaries, daring to be different and unwilling to accept the status quo. Harbaugh steadfastly tweaks college football convention. He’s unabashedly called out the SEC. James has become the NBA’s premier power broker, branching out into player representation while still an active player. He has become his own coach, general manager and owner.
Anything that makes those in power nervous is a good thing. But when noble efforts get lost within the babble of petulant social media blowback, it diminishes the broader objective of what these two are accomplishing.
James and Harbaugh come across as narcissistic blowhards instead of prideful insurgents looking to rewrite the rules.
Cavaliers’ management has openly questioned LeBron’s recent social media behavior. The general manager and head coach brought him in for a meeting. James’ Twitter account unfollowed the Cavs’ Twitter account. Since that’s his team — at least for the time being — the decision stirred a maelstrom. He has dropped hints he’s potentially unhappy and might bolt from Cleveland for the second time in his career following the playoffs.
Harbaugh should have kept his Twitter finger silent in the aftermath of Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith commenting that the Buckeyes wouldn’t consider holding a spring practice in Florida as the Wolverines did because OSU football isn’t in need of a public-relations resurrection. Harbaugh lashed out at Smith over what he perceived as a cheap shot, tweeting remembrances of the tattoo scandal that brought down former coach Jim Tressel.
But the comeback would’ve come off better if the Wolverines weren’t 2-13 against Ohio State in this millennium. Or if the Buckeyes hadn’t won a national championship … after the scandal and subsequent NCAA sanctions.
Smith later apologized for what he called a misrepresentation. (You mean to tell me somebody could possibly misconstrue the proper context of a 140-character message? Well, duh.)
James says he’ll avoid Twitter with the playoffs approaching. Harbaugh supposedly met with U-M athletic director Warde Manuel following his tweet. Hopefully, Manuel reminded him of the pitfalls of aggressively contributing to a platform that’s often eroded into a loudspeaker for personal ignorance and petty animosities.
Like many sports personalities today, James and Harbaugh prefer direct contact with their targeted audience free of any journalistic filters. That’s their prerogative. Both are smart enough to realize a spontaneous free flow of consciousness isn’t necessarily the best approach in a venue susceptible to second, third and fourth guessing. But both are so full of themselves that neither cares about appearances.
Making them the perfect Twitter patrons.
In 10 years, Twitter has made us dumber.
It has made us lazier.
It has made us more easily judgmental.
And while it has become a useful vehicle in the rapid dissemination of viable information, it also has become a cesspool for the terminally vane, the childishly impetuous and the misguidedly self-righteous. That’s why it shouldn’t surprise that sports and Twitter have enjoyed a happy marriage over the past 10 years.