Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Dark Side of Twitter

I'd always assumed when I'd met people on Twitter that they were "WYSIWYG" or "what you see is what you get." People who are friendly, intelligent, funny or engaging I would imagine would be very similar in real life. On Twitter, people will either like you or not, so my feeling has always been to be yourself and let the "Tweeps*" fall where they may.

Throughout the past year I've developed actual friendships with fewer than a dozen people. These are people I consider in my inner circle, and we communicate outside of Twitter through email, phone conversations, and in some cases have even met in person. Those friendships, as those in real life, are rare, and I treasure each and every one of them.

Recently, out of the blue, I received a DM (direct message) from a follower I don't know well, warning me about one of our mutual followers. The information was disturbing. Allegedly, our mutual follower was dangerous and violent, and was wanted by the police.

Because of the friendly nature of my conversations with the allegedly dangerous person, I was a bit incredulous accepting the information at face value. I judge people through my direct interactions with them, and I'd had nothing but positive exchanges regarding work and common interests throughout our communications with one another.

The ensuing conversation with my family about this episode led to the conclusion that although the accuser's situation appeared to be dire, I couldn't become involved and should disengage. If the allegations were true and I betrayed confidences to enable someone's incarceration, who is to say I or my family wouldn't become the object of revenge?

Until now, I'd only experienced the best Twitter has to offer. I think this shows the worst.

*Tweeps: one of the many words representing people on Twitter

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