Twitter Users More Likely To Be Active Offline

According to a survey by MRI, Twitter users are not only more active online than average adults but are more than twice as likely to be active in their communities offline:

The survey finds that Twitter users score high on all dimensions of public activity. They are 209% more likely to have written something that’s been published than the average American, 142% more likely to participate in political or environmental causes, 141% more likely to be part of a lobbyist group or similar organization, and 103% more likely to have attended a political rally or even in the past twelve months.

The idea isn’t that far fetched. People who use social media services like Twitter or maintain a blog usually have an opinion they’re trying to express relevant to whatever community they fit themselves into. Whether politics, technology, social justice, or PTA, clearly these people have a dog in whatever race they’re advocating. But it does also lead to a chicken and egg consideration: did Twitter or social media lead to them becoming more socially active or did the activity lead them to Twitter?

How Not To Use Twitter

Person gets a job at Cisco.  Person tweets that they’re not all that excited about job.  Person gets tweeted back at by Cisco employee.  Person does not get job.

Person then learns a lesson and shares it with others:

Should Tim Levad have backed off? Not necessarily; it was crass of me to say what I did and I take full responsibility for the stupidity of my action. Instead of blaming him, let me use him to illustrate what I have learned: Tim Levad and @timmylevad are two different people. @timmylevad is defined entirely by the number of people listening to it. But whatever @timmylevad says is backed up by the subtle persuasive knowledge that somewhere back there, Tim Levad the person is pulling the strings.

I don’t really mean to use Tim specifically in this allegory, but the point is that people with many Twitter followers can’t afford to be real people on Twitter. Tim Levad would probably never use Twitter to make a flippantly negative remark about his career, because he understands that @timmylevad is more of a mass-media channel than a human being.

It’s important to think about these things as you go about your daily life. How am I using Twitter, really? Do I have the service set up in the right way to support that? Am @I more of a mass-media channel than a human being? Do @I act as such?

I don’t entirely agree with the first point.  Too much about how someone acts when observed or unobserved and assuming that Levad acts differently on his Twitter feed because of his audience.  It’s a big assumption to make and one that exists more because the author is soul searching and excusing the content of their twitter feed after these events.

That said, the rest is valid in that Twitter or other social networks or even any place where you plop your name and reputation on the web is what you make of it.  How you use it is a direct reflection of you and you can either define it or let it define you.

A good portion is also public, and so you are going to have to keep that in mind as you go about and use the services accordingly.  But that doesn’t mean you have to change who you are to fit the public nature.  You can be selective or say, screw it, I’m going to be me, consequences be damned.  And maybe that’ll cost you a job.