Twitter. By now, you have likely heard of it. By the name of it, you would think it was a hot new toy for toddlers, or a new female pop group. However, names can be deceiving. In actuality, Twitter is a communication platform so powerful that it has the potential to topple kingdoms.
Twitter has been gaining steam for months as a popular way for marketers to reach and interact with their customers, and for news outlets to get an instant pulse on the events of the day, the hour, the second, and the millisecond. Twitter is the world's largest focus group, chat room, news desk, and water cooler wrapped into one incredibly simplistic web platform.
Recently, the power of Twitter has even been harnessed for the first time to support an underground movement to defeat fascism and defend Democracy. Iranians have been using Twitter as a means to show the world the injustices they are facing in their land, even after the oppressive government has tried to shut down all communication pathways to the outside world.
When Twitter isn't functioning as the Web 2.0 version of the Underground Railroad, it is often being used by fans to contact and interact with the subject of their fanatical idolatry. It seems that anyone that is anyone is twittering, tweeting, or twitting these days.
Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk for the cool kids!) has set up a micro virtual kingdom on Twitter, being one of the first celebrities to truly use the platform to its potential. When he isn't busy posting pictures of his MILF wife's hindquarters for his adoring fans to see, he is re-tweeting messages concerning social causes, updating fans on his latest projects, and communicating with his fan base.
In recent weeks, we have seen an influx of sports stars enter the world of Twitter. Taking a cue from those who cover them, several well known sports stars have begun using Twitter as a means to reach their fans and further quench their indomitable egos. From Shaq (@The_Real_Shaq) to the NFL's chirpiest WRs Terrell Owens(@TerrellOwens81) and Chad Ochocinco (@OGOchoCinco), Twitter has become a virtual field for trash talking and excessive celebrations.
And best of all, there are no refs to take their fun away.
However, this wild west mentality might soon change.
Social networking sites have already landed several athletes from the sports world into steaming tar pits. A player at the University of Texas got busted for some racist remarks he made on his Facebook status last year. A little-known cornerback for the Philadelphia Eagles also got in a bit of a bind when a photo of himself chortling next to what he would have us believe was a tobacco bong and a line of sugar was posted on Facebook. Just prior to the NFL draft, there was a stir regarding an apparently racist Facebook group that several USC stars joined, but was since deemed to be an inside joke within the team. While several players managed to free themselves from the scorching social tar they found themselves in, others were buried under the pressure.
Twitter, unlike Facebook, poses an even bigger potential pitfall for players since their tweets are not only limited to their close friends. The entire world can read their tweets. From the embarrassing "Bout 2 take a dump." to the "I'm in the OC. Hit me up y'all!", its all there for every fan, reporter, and coach to see.
Be careful what you tweet, or it will be twittering its way onto the next SportsCenter broadcast. Twitter is one little birdie that can't be subdued.
While freedom of speech is the foundation of our Democracy and the right of every free human on the planet, it also poses a dilemma for coaches and organizations that hope to keep their secrets, issues, and strategies in-house.
The Miami Dolphins, under the stewardship of Bill Parcells, has been known for their less-than-democratic policies on the media. Loose lips sink ships, and the Tuna isn't too fond of the water, despite his namesake.
Parcells, Ireland, and Sparano do their best to control the messages and communications coming out of their complex. In the recent war of words between LB Channing Crowder and Rex Ryan, someone made it known that it was time to drop it because the usually talkative Crowder became mute as a mouse within days.
Now, the twittering menace is seeping into their complex like a bad infestation of termites—threatening to take down the restrictive media structure they have so painstakingly built. Yes, some Miami Dolphins have discovered Twitter and now have a direct line to the masses.
While rookie Sean Smith (@SeanSmith4) has mostly just been updating fans on how he is adjusting to the NFL and Miami, WR Davone Bess (@Lambo_Weezy) has taken a far different approach.
[UPDATE: Lambo_Weezy has been confirmed to be a Davone Bess Twitter impostor. Check here for all the details regarding the Davone Bess Twittergate.]
Davone pounced on the Twitter scene like he was orchestrating the Wildcat in Foxborough—pulling no punches. Yesterday, Lambo challenged Titans RB Chris Johnson (@ChrisJohnson28) to a foot race. The Dash of the duo formerly known as Smash and Dash took offense to this challenge, stating, and I RT (RT = ReTweeting which basically means Quote) "Feel insulted because somebody want to race me who ran a 4.64 i ran 4.24 do the math kill me."
Since this exchange, Lambo (Davone) has upped the stakes, saying that they should broadcast the race and the loser must shave their dreads off for charity. OGOchoCinco, the reigning king of NFL Twitterland, appeared to reach out to the NFL Network to air the duel.
But Davone took the social networking thing to the next level when he posted a link to a Ustream feed so that fans and twitter followers could hear him live. While Ustream generally allows video to stream as well, Davone for whatever reason did not make use of this feature, as only his voice could be heard during the broadcast.
Many Dolphin fans took to the message boards to debate whether Lambo_Weezy was the real Davone or not, since some of his antics seemed out of character for the reserved nature of his public persona. However, OGOchoCinco (the verified REAL Chad Ochocinco) seemed to confirm that @LamboWeezy was indeed the real Davone Bess.
A man has every right to spend their free time however they see fit as long as it falls within the realm of legality and social mores, but they must also act in a responsible way if they don't want the authority of their employer to whack them upside the head.
It is for this reason that platforms such as Twitter are so dangerous for young athletes and so threatening to tight-lipped organizations such as the Dolphins.
As an organization, the Miami Dolphins regulate the amount of interaction their players have with the media and with fans. However, Twitter bypasses this control. Through Twitter, players can communicate directly with local reporters, rival players, and fans in Ohio with the click of a button.
How long will the Parcells Regime continue to live with this social infestation in their house before they begin to clean it up? They will likely try to reign it in soon before more players start jumping on the Twitter-wagon.
On a broader note, does an organization have the right or the power to control how their employees leverage these new social technologies?
Or is it their duty as leaders of their organization to keep things like Twitter from toppling their kingdom too?
Until we tweet again, this is @Finstache signing off.