A time to Tweet … a time not to Tweet
I Tweet. A lot. Often. About almost anything.
My friends know this. Many of them love me for it.
After all, I first ‘met’ most of them on Twitter.
I Tweet about my workouts, my dog walks, my shopping, hockey games, whatever pops into my head.
I support live Tweeting events. I promoted live Tweeting TV shows to my former employer when I was its social media strategist.
I know how the activity can help news spread, while enlightening and, most importantly, engaging the community.
But holy hell’s bells, did my ass get chapped last night. (And maybe I realized why My American, who doesn’t Tweet — EVER — gets so pissed when I pull my phone out of my bag because I JUST HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING on Twitter.)
I tuned into the #kamloopsbudget hashtag, while waiting for our dutiful reporter, Michele, to return to the office and craft her story about the City of Kamloops budget discussions on parks and recreation.
I was happy to see engagement from members of the community, while the @cityofkamloops account Tweeted the proceedings.
And then my jaw dropped just a teeny tiny bit.
Two city councillors were also live Tweeting the event.
Wait … members of city council are tweeting DURING city council? Don’t you have other things you should be doing? #kamloopsbudget
— Angela MacIsaac (@that_angela) January 23, 2013
Coun. Donovan Cavers, one of the guilty parties and who was quite pleased to finally see a question from the ‘floor,’ replied:
He followed it up with a smiley face.
Sorry, councillor, not smiling. You can say you’re listening but we know better. We have, you know, been told — how many times? — by legislators and police officers that if you’re texting (or Tweeting in this case), you aren’t giving your undue attention to what’s really important.
In the case of my example, of course, it’s driving.
You lose 50 per cent of what’s going on around you
when you’re talking or texting on a hand-held device.
That’s a quote from Fiona Temple, ICBC’s director of road safety, in a 2011 CBC story on texting and driving.
A study in the National Communication Association’s journal Communication Education revealed last spring that college students who frequently text message during class have difficulty staying attentive to classroom lectures and consequently risk having poor learning outcomes.
Granted, those students likely weren’t live Tweeting the lecture content but the fact remains: when you’re tip-tap-tapping away on your phone, you aren’t listening to what’s happening. No matter how hard you assert that you are.
And these are budget sessions.
The city councillors are determining the economic path of Kamloops for the next year.
From Cavers, we got this eclat in an exchange with a local reporter:
@andreathisweek it probably the pistachios i brought.:-)
— Donovan Cavers (@Donovan_Cavers) January 23, 2013
From his Tweeting cohort, Coun. Nancy Bepple, we got little information that wasn’t already reported on @cityofkamloops.
They might argue they have different followers than the city’s Twitter account.
Then I would suggest they provide their followers with something along these lines:
Hi, everyone! Please follow our budget discussions at
tonight’s meeting on @cityofkamloops or #kamloopsbudget.
That’s only 110 characters, by the way. I left lots of room for your followers to retweet it.
After all, the budget discussions are a vital part of the municipal process and we need — nay, we should demand — that the councillors put their phones away, give the discussions undivided attention, and let staff take care of the Tweeting and engagement.
They can answer questions and reTweet what they find interesting after the meeting.
On their own time.
Not the taxpayers’.