This has become the week of the quitters. Several people have taken their feed and gone home in a very public manner at Friendfeed. A couple of prolific twitterers on my friends list have written their goodbyes to twitter this week and I heard at least one other friend of a friend did the same. These all came soon after the Internet Librarian conference and I suspect some “leader” there declared twitter was dead or no longer “cool” and some followed along. Today comes the news that Joaquin Phoenix has announced he is done with acting. My question this week is why is it suddenly cool to not only quit, but quit in such a public manner? If you don’t want to participate in Friendfeed or Twitter anymore, just quit without the drama or the big public announcements. I assume one day I will tire of both services, but I will just fade away by not posting anymore. I might say goodbye to a few close friends, but most won’t notice I even left the room. This is the way I would exit a regular social setting. I wouldn’t do it any different in an online one.
While at work yesterday I saw a tweet from my friend Cindi in reference to a text alert regarding possible gunmen and shots fired at Western Kentucky University. WKU had sent to text alerts about reports of guns and shots fired and locked down the campus. I have family in the area and my niece has a speech class on WKU campus, so I started looking at local news sites to try to get the full story. As I read things either on news sites or a University of Kentucky bulletin board, I sent tweets with the information. Others were doing this as well. After it was over and turned out to be a fight with likely no weapons involved, people started complaining about the texts and twitter causing mass hysteria.
I am completely on WKU’s side regarding the text alerts. It is much better to be safe and lock the campus down than to wait and have several people dead before you can confirm there is actually a gunman on campus. If WKU had not sent alerts and there had been a shooting the same people whining about the alerts would be complaining about WKU not protecting its students. It is always better to err on the side of safety.
As for the Twitter portion, I believe it is good to keep the flow of information going. All of the tweets I saw were relaying what was being said on MSNBC, CNN, FOX and Bowling Green TV. If these reports were causing “mass hysteria” blame the news channels, not Twitter. SMS and Twitter proved invaluable for those of us who were out of state(in my case in jail) and unable to get the news any other way.
I have had several discussion with coworkers recently regarding the fact that I am on both Twitter and FriendFeed. Usually, these discussion involve them making fun of me for being on Twitter and FriendFeed. Arguing with them brings up the question: Why am I here?
I am not someone who will ever inspire hundreds of followers on Twitter or friends on FriendFeed. I assume most of what I post will be read buy a few and commented on by even fewer. So, given this, why do I bother?
I have spent 13 years as a jail librarian. Over half of that time, I was in a single person library 4 days a week. These days I am in a single person library 2 days a week and in a public library 3 days a week. I have always felt disconnected from my library system and the field as a whole. Twitter and FriendFeed have allowed me to connect with library staff across the country(and at least one in Canada) in a way that used to be almost impossible. I am no longer alone on Wednesday’s and Friday’s. I have the whole world at my fingertips if I want it.
That’s why I am here.