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The “twits on Twitter”

December 12, 2010

Last week, local sports radio station CKAC posted that Scott Gomez had been traded to the Buffalo Sabres on their

Fail Whale Cake picture from DoobyBrain

Facebook page. It was obviously an erroneous post, but it did manage to cause a little bit of buzz on Facebook, then Twitter, and later in the media.It was being discussed on the Team990 on the afternoon show (with Pierre McGuire on the line) and they started laughing about how the report came from “the twits on Twitter.” Trying to point out how, yet again, it was a mainstream media member or outlet that had reported the false information is futile and frankly exhausting at this point.

But I got to thinking about those “twits on Twitter” they were laughing about and dismissing. Who exactly are these twits?

I got The Active Stick a Twitter account before I had even posted my first post, mostly because I wanted to follow hockey on a different account than my personal/professional one. The first thing I did was add as many official NHL Twitter accounts as there were at the time (about 14/30, I think), some sports broadcasters and personalities, and my two favourite hockey bloggers at the time. Or the only two hockey bloggers I’d heard of at the time. Whatever. The point is I added DGB and PPP. I did a lot of following and not much tweeting for a while, until a little talk about the Habs made me some new Twitter connections. Over a year later I follow hundreds of people and a ton of misguided Twitter folk follow my insane ramblings, too.

Here’s what I have learned:

  • The twits on Twitter are often able to talk about hockey without courting ratings and hits. A novel concept.
  • The twits on Twitter will immediately shower you with helpful responses about a CBA rule or salary cap question that’s been confusing you. Try calling Pierre or Mitch or Andie and asking them how waivers work, I dare you.
  • The twits on Twitter include Bob McKenzie, Dave Stubbs, Cassie Campbell and others I respect as much. You know, those who answer the really complicated questions solely for the good of their followers.
  • The twits on Twitter don’t actually go around “breaking” false news like people having passed away (GAH) or Gomez being traded to Buffalo.
  • The twits on Twitter are wonderful people to have a beer with.
  • They’ll come through for you when Google can’t. I was looking for batting cages in and around Montreal earlier this year. Google told me there were two. The twits on Twitter found me five more.
  • The twits on Twitter can sometimes become your friends. The kind of friend that will take care of you when you’re sick, buy you dinner or bring over some wine and listen to you cry for hours, go to stupid movies nobody wants to see with you just because you want to, hang out in Lachine with you, make you laugh for six hours straight, be proud of you when you accomplish things, and push you to be brave.
  • PS there is no reason to hang out in Lachine so don’t do it.
  • The twits on Twitter will make you laugh all through your workday, because Allan Walsh is hypersensitive, Kyle Wellwood is fat, and fans throw waffles at the Leafs.
  • This hasn’t happened to me but I have witnessed it, and you know I don’t lie unless I am saying nice things about Luke Schenn’s looks: The twits on Twitter can turn into a relationship – the kind that makes you smile so much your cheeks hurt.
  • The twits on Twitter can learn you football.
  • And cooking.
  • The twits on Twitter can share stuff with you that show you that you’re not alone when it comes to stuff you’re struggling with.
  • And send you emails on a Monday saying that you’re awesome and not to let anybody tell you different.
  • The twits on Twitter will give you job leads and career advice.
  • If you read this blog you’ll know that the next step for me is Toronto. I already had a lot of friends in Toronto, but now I have twice as many, thanks to the twits on Twitter.
  • The twits on Twitter become your five readers. The best five readers in the world.

Not bad, for a bunch of twits.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. December 12, 2010 11:46 pm

    you forgot “handsome.”

    • theactivestick permalink*
      December 12, 2010 11:49 pm

      What if that’s only some of the twits on Twitter? :p

      Fine. The twits on Twitter are devastatingly handsome.

  2. December 12, 2010 11:59 pm

    The twits on twitter include jerky Stars fans from Texas who are still waiting for rulings on what they have to do in the unlikely event that the Stars lose to Montreal. ;o)

  3. December 13, 2010 8:40 am

    I prefer to answer on here, because 140 characters on Twitter just isn’t enough to engage in a meaningful conversation.

    To follow up on my tweet about people needing to move away from these kinds of rebuttals is that I believe it is based on a mistake, in that just because people comment about “twits” being on twitter does not mean that they are applying a broad stroke to all who use twitter. To your point, many in the media are using twitter accounts themselves (some more actively than others) but also conversely, those who have gained a certain prominence in the blog/twitter world have found themselves being asked by some of the very same people who have made those so-called disparaging remarks, to be guests on their shows.

    It doesn’t matter where the source of a false or unverified story comes from, the fact of the matter is that twitter allows for the rapid propagation of information in almost real time, beyond anything people in the media have ever seen. Moreover, it seems the general public credits “conversations” on twitter as fact as well, despite the 140 character limitations that could prevent the person who is breaking the story from getting into details …now, when that tweet is in fact linked to an article, the reporter in question has no excuses, which is a topic in and of itself. However, my feeling is when off-handed comments are made about “twits on twitter”, it is in reference to the general build up that comes from spreading false information without checking facts.

    Being on the radio side of things, I have seen recently how reports on twitter lead people to call into our show to blast us for not reporting on “breaking news”, only to find out that it is being discussed on twitter without any credible sources. My show is on early weekend mornings, I can only imagine the issues that happen in that regard during peak hours.

    So, unless someone out and out says that Twitter and those who use it are all twits, and that the information that comes from it is usually wrong, let’s not exaggerate the situation. Fact is that twitter has and will continued to be used to people who want to be the first to break a story without checking their facts, and that breaking means will be spread very quickly by those who are interested in the topic. Those people and that misinformation is what has to be curbed, and in my opinion, those who want to be advocates for twitter should spend their time stopping the flow of misinformation rather than point fingers.

    I love reading your articles, you’ve been on our show and I would love to continue having you on the show, I just feel that this particular article hurts, not helps, the situation. Twitter does not make twits out of people, its the people who are twits that hurt twitter as a tool.

    • December 13, 2010 2:41 pm

      I fail to see how “twits from twitter” even applies when the mistaken article was on Facebook.
      When these issues are reported, whatever tool is used doesn’t deserve the blame – it should be solely placed on CKAC’s shoulders in this instance. The contempt shown in the statement “twits on twitter” is disturbing more in the idea that, rather than address a situation with facts, the commenter would rather get a chuckle at painting something he seemingly disapproves of with a wide brush.
      Twitter doesn’t need to be defended, but the behaviour behind the comment needs to be highlighted and changed.

    • December 13, 2010 2:42 pm

      So basically, after years of journalists’ telling us to trust only them because only “they do the research” (glove tap to the vapid @Andie990 for that laughable comment) we’re now being told not to trust what’s said on Twitter because MSMers are just trying to use it to try to break news without checking facts?

      Twitter is used to break factual stories in every arena of the news every day. For someone to go on the radio and say ‘the twits on Twitter” or to generalise the service in the negative is ignorant. Unfortunately, I saw a study that only about 8% of internet users use Twitter so it’s much easier for the MSM to blame it (such as in the Gomez case where it was a member of the established media that leaked a false story) rather than admit that they made a mistake.

      Now, if people are calling your show and yelling because some random Joe Schmoe ‘broke’ a story and you guys aren’t covering it then that person’s an idiot. But they presumably read the newspaper and obviously listen to the radio. Funny how their idiocy isn’t used to slander those mediums…

      • December 13, 2010 5:19 pm

        To be clear, anyone not doing their due diligence to confirm a story before printing it has broken a primary rule in journalism. The issue is that twitter can make a falsehood explode to a national scale because irresponsible journalists run with the story as if it is fact. You would have the occasional story proven to be false BT (Before Twitter), but since twitter, it seems to be happening on a far more regular occurrence as people can print unscreened information immediately in order to try and be the one referenced in all other news sources.

        this is not about MSM vs anyone, and there is no reason to start pointing fingers at anyone either. As a tool, twitter can be used properly, and improperly.

        It was not a generalization to say “twits on twitter” since I think you are assuming they were referring to everyone. That is obviously not the case, and no reason for responsible twitter to get offended. The comment was about irresponsible people who use twitter to propagate bogus stories. If the twit in question was a MSM journalist from a radio, news or TV station, who blatantly ran a story that was false, then they would be a twit too.

        and to be clear again, I am not MSM. I use twitter, enjoy tweet ups, and have made great friends, found new sites, and use twitter for news as well. but I will not start talking about a story as fact unless it has been validated several respected sources, and those sources as not referencing “as per so and so’s tweet or VM, or report” but have a direct confirmation. Don’t be so quick to question me about my supposed slander on twitter.

  4. December 13, 2010 10:04 am

    The reason why there aren’t any twits on twitter are because they’re all in the comment section of Puck Daddy.

    • theactivestick permalink*
      December 13, 2010 10:36 am

      New Lambert must be up.

  5. Happy Girl permalink
    December 13, 2010 2:40 pm

    Those twits on twitter will have Steve Ott and Adam Burish make you a video with suggestions on getting a Stars tattoo and have a TV broadcaster wish you a happy birthday! YAY

  6. December 13, 2010 2:42 pm

    Good stuff 🙂

  7. December 13, 2010 4:50 pm

    There are twits on the air too. That, they won’t say…

  8. Paul permalink
    December 14, 2010 9:20 am

    Ugh! Crap like this bothers me on many levels, not the least of which is the way in which people generalise based on their particular position on an issue. I did not hear the “twits on twitter” comment, but based on the source, I think it was said tongue in cheek as an attempt at an easy joke. Ironically, the off-the-cuff way in which the personalities on 990 make their jokes is analogous to Twitter’s 140-character, instantaneous dissemenation format.

    How many comedians write their jokes with full research, ensuring factual accuracy? They go for the funny first. “Twits on Twitter” is an easy joke, but it does point out the fact that technology can be misused, or, worse, abused.

    I’m certain we all know someone who still hits “Reply to All” on some nauseating, schmaltzy email that has done the rounds of the interwebs a dozen times, only to add “Awwww”. Raise your hands if you’ve received an email from a friend or family member who forwarded an email that Bill Gates or Steve Jobs would give you a free laptop? How many of you forwarded that same email?

    Understanding the concept of new technology or media (“gets stories out faster”) does not mean it is used correctly or responsibly (“confirm your facts, asshat”). In CKAC’s case, by posting a story that Gomez had been traded, it showed that they were still a little unclear on how to use new media. To borrow a line from the Simpsons “As usual, the playground has the facts right, but misses the point entirely.” (One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish)

    In the “olden days”, when there was little or no news to report, the MSM could “report” on rumors (by quoting anonymous sources) and they’d create some buzz, but it would die out in a day or two when there was something more (and actually) newsworthy. The advent of tools like Facebook and Twitter allow fake stories to get MUCH wider distribution at lightning speed, and this is what CKAC failed to consider when they posted the Gomez trade story.

    I can also see why it got attention: an onerous contract for an undersized forward who hasn’t produced to expectations would seem like winning the lottery for some fans (the tinfoil hatter in me would also throw in the language issue).

    Finally, we have to consider the source of the original story. Unfortunately, it came from a trusted media outlet–the team’s French language radio partner. The source gave it instant credibility, and people assumed that the due diligence and fact-checking had already been done and confirmed. Had the story come from just a regular fan on Facebook or Twitter, it wouldn’t have had much traction (and they might have assumed it came from Eklund).

    So where does that leave us? CKAC has a black eye and their public trust is bruised because they did the journalistic equivalent of giving that nice Nigerian prince their bank information. New media like Facebook and Twitter has their fair share of people who don’t know how to use these tools responsibly (or what the consequences are), which will, inevitably, lead to people denigrating the tools that many (if not the majority) use properly. With 990 using a broad brush to make a cheap joke, the responsible users of new media were offended.

    I think being the bigger person and taking the higher road is the best option in this case. People like to make fun of things they don’t understand, so chillax, tweeps, and be confident in YOUR ability to use the tools correctly.


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