consistent use of DM can be corrosive to Twitter openness – micro post


I’ve never been a fan of Direct Messaging in Twitter. I use it more than I once did, but I as I use it I am ever aware of what I intuited when I first started with Twitter: DM is opposed in spirit to the openness and transparency that gives social media its value. The best use of it I’ve noticed is when slipping into actually business discussions that should be a bit private, but again and again it seems to be used as a kind of “commentary” channel to the public discourse. The temptation is to be even unpleasant, or at least judgemental to those we are otherwise exposing our smiling face. I have seen relationships significantly changed by the move from genuine public discourse to private DM, and I have seen my own social media be affected. DM seems a little like the Ring in the Lord of the Rings. It has powers, but as you use it it distorts your social media and the temptation is to use it more. When I no longer strain to get my point across in a public fashion, when I stop trying to include others in my conversation, I am no longer doing the “social” of social media, I’m no longer transparent.


5 thoughts on “consistent use of DM can be corrosive to Twitter openness – micro post

  1. This post is not about the technology, but about how we can build and tear down relationships with our actions. I think it goes to deeper values that being social or not social, but to the character of the person doing the tweeting. I know I have fallen to the temptation of saying something privately (using DM) that I would not want to say publicly, or to a persons face. This is not a reflection of the the technology, but of how my actions reflect on who I am as a person.

    I think most of the time I DM, I am asking for someones email address to send them an invite, or some info. Other appropriate uses are asking personal issues that that person does not want public (a family member sick, someone in my close circle letting me know about something in their private life keeping them from Social Media). Where Direct Message feels like a negative, or even an evil, is when I see a meta conversation taking place about the public conversation.

    My answer to when it is appropriate to use Direct Message, would be… it depends. It depends on the relationship. Is it is something that does not need to concern other people? If it is a complaint about someone else, why not go to that person?

    I like how you are drawing the lines with these posts Kevin. Other businesses and people will choose how they interact and behave, but good business practices will last, while shady ones will fall by the wayside.

    • Chris, this is really it: “Where Direct Message feels like a negative, or even an evil, is when I see a meta conversation taking place about the public conversation.” Sometimes this happens in real time as the stream is going on (and I definitely have been found myself there, and it never feels good after), sometimes it is about something that is generally afoot. In either case I realize that it isn’t really desirable. It has a certain unforeseen negative effect, a tone change. Social media is about being in it, not above it, or beside it. For bigger issues the move to email, or Skype, or some other platform seems perfectly fine. It is the kind of parallel column experience that is afforded in Tweetdeck that defies what the Twitter value is.

  2. Kevin and Chris, I too feel squirmy when ever a commentary about an open conversation takes off in DM. Luckily, this rarely happens to me, for whatever reason. It seems like a good rule of thumb, that if a conversation on the open conversation starts up in DM, take it to Skype where you have to look each other in the eye or hear each other’s voices. This will often check the “dark forces” at play.

    • Some people feel that DM is one of the best features of Twitter I think. And even after this post fell into an extensive DM conversation with someone I had been out of touch with for a while. It was great to do, but even that very positive exchange involved me have to express things about situations I would not say publicly. In the end it didn’t make me feel good. What is it about that particular form of privacy – it is the Tweetdeck column set up? – that makes it feel inappropriate. Definitely not something I want to perpetuate. I feel it is far more pervasive that most of us realize.

  3. I saw one influential tweeter brag about how her DM’s would explode around a situation. I knew immediately that she and I would not see eye to eye on things ;-). Sounded like high school crap to me!

    I know what you mean, somehow the DM column is too close to the twitterverse of open communications. I rather txt, or better do a G+ hang out! LOL

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s