Twitter Transparency

We live in the age of Twitter transparency. Yesterday staff of United Methodist Communications and the United Methodist Publishing House met to discuss collaborating on the Rethink Church media and hospitality campaign. It was a good meeting. Lots of enthusiasm and good ideas.

When I returned to the office someone asked me about the meeting and I said it was a good discussion. Another person said, “Yes, so I heard.” As it takes only five minutes to drive from UMPH to UMCom, I asked if she had talked with someone there. “No,” she said, “someone was twittering from the meeting.”

Twitter is an instant megaphone. The moment the words are out of your mouth they can be repeated to the world. This is happening in millions of ways now. It’s disconcerting to some and liberating to others.

Twitter brings its own form of accountability. It’s a tool for transparency. When a speaker’s comments can be sent to the world instantly, accuracy and credibility are on line. Every phrase can be literally parsed and communicated to the world.

Anyone with a cellphone and a Twitter account is now a broadcaster and a content producer. Words of presenters have always been important. But now under the scrutiny of immediate communication, they can be sent around the world before the speaker can take a breath and begin a new sentence. There is power in this, and danger.

It seems to me that it places even greater responsibility on a speaker to be clear, coherent and careful. A mis-spoken ad lib can haunt me forever now. In the past, it may have taken on a life of its own within a small group of listeners. Now the world can mull it over.

And more serious implications can be drawn as well. In an age of great division and controversy, words can incite or motivate in a more immediate way, with good or harmful consequences.

The age of transparency is upon us and with transparency comes accountability.

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