Archive for August, 2010

“Tweeting Out The Dead”, really Forbes, this was worth writing?

Forbes writer, Mike Isaac, wrote a piece last week titled "Tweeting Out The Dead", which has been bothering me all week.  Maybe not bothering me so much as annoying me like gnat buzzing about my ear.  In this Twittermania segment, Isaac invokes "Miss Manners" then goes on to discuss "Condolence tweets".  For anyone who has used Twitter for even 10 seconds, it wouldn't take long to understand that it's purely a broadcast platform where people push out messages of a promotional, informational, and in some cases directly communicative, nature.  Those who use it to communicate with one person publicly (as opposed to using the "Direct Message" capability), do so because they know that person is reading their tweets and does not wish to keep that tweet private.

For some reason, Isaac has chosen to see tweets where people seem to extend public condolences as being "condolence tweets" and therefore raises the issue of whether this is a proper way to extend sympathies out to the deceased's loved ones.  Clearly Mike needs to spend some more time on Twitter if he's going to write about that medium.  These tweets by celebrities or others are not real condolences as in those one might extend to close family, but rather "shout outs", making others aware that they cared about the deceased, and in some cases simply letting others know that someone they cared about has just passed.  While the family may see this, that's not the intended audience for this message…and frankly, Isaac should have understood that.  Making snide comments about Ashton Kutcher's tweet about Brittany Murphy's passing, clearly shows that Isaac is out of touch.  This was one way that Ashton chose to let the world know he noticed her passing, irrespective of the other ways he might have reached out to her family directly.  This message was intended for his followers not for the family per se.

From here, Isaac goes on to quote various folks (a doctor from UCSF and an analyst from Forrester Research) about the process of grieving and how it's moving on to Twitter.  I won't stand here and pretend to understand the full extent of people's grief nor why they might tweet about someone's passing, but to the extent that condolences remain "an expression of sympathy to someone who has experienced grief arising from death, deep mental anguish, or misfortune", then I'll say that what's happening on Twitter is not "condolence tweets", but simple sharing of expressions of grief with one's followers at large.  So Mr. Isaac, consider spending more time on Twitter if you need topics here to make your publishing deadline 😉