Twitter Was Not Designed for Conversation

Will Smith's insight on emotional control
Will Smith’s insight on emotional control

I did something today I have always told myself I wouldn’t do.  I tried to engage in a conversation with someone on Twitter.  It’s impossible to have a reasonable conversation with someone using only 144 character but especially when that person turns out to have only linear thinking skills.

I was watching Power & Politics today as is my habit and one of the regular speakers, Ian Lee of Carlton University, was spinning his take on the middle class.  Now the study he was referring to was in regard to how much better the Canadian middle class is doing as compared to the States or many other countries.  Well as a policy analyst who works with a lot of stats I couldn’t help commenting on Mr. Lee’s ability to spin statistical data.  In my days with government it was no secret that you could give five different people the same set of stats and get five different reports back when they were given no parameters to analyze within.  Our nature is for our biases to kick in when we are given little or no direction.

Anyway I digress which isn’t uncommon but I did pop off a tweet regarding Mr. Lee’s interpretation of the data.  I disagreed with the way he spun the data which also isn’t uncommon.  His ability to make it sound like the Canadian middle class was doing great in no way reflected the shrinking of the middle class, only that the Canadian middle class have done better.  Well that is a very simplistic overview of the study but who am I to complain.  It appears, particularly following the response to my tweet, that the average Canadian prefers simplistic rather than adopting critical thinking skills.

My tweet was a simple “Ian can spin, the report says Canadian middle class is doing better than the USA, nothing about growth”.  Well someone read that tweet and responded that I sounded upset over the middle class doing well.  I did what I shouldn’t, took the bait and answered directly back to that message.  I sometimes take it for granted that everyone is capable of lateral thinking and not trapped in linear thought.

My response open the door to an exchange of tweets that were definitely not designed for someone that does not recognize lateral thought.  I’m not use to conversations rooted in linear thinking and especially on Twitter.  This is why I should know better than attempting to have a conversation on a tool designed for quick comments rather than an ongoing exchange of ideas.  Twitter is not designed for conversation.

This was followed by a short exchange of tweets which ranged from the middle class to partisan politics versus democracy (a distinction I maintain).  The person questioning my tweet made a comment about the panel member from the “left” at which point all credibility went out the window.  I have no doubt that there is both ends of the spectrum in Canadian politics but I believe we need to leave that concept out of the application of democracy.  You can express your ideology through your political affiliation but when it comes to making change that affect all Canadian’s then the principles of democracy have to apply and we remain centrist.  There is a difference.  Canada has been a centrist country for the 64 years I have been on this earth and I want to see it stay that way.  I want my grandchildren to have the same proud Canada I did and I don’t believe extreme ideology shifts do this.

Anyway lesson for the day, don’t assume that everyone has the ability for lateral thought and never try to engage in a conversation when there are only 144 characters involved.  Otherwise you wind up giving control of your emotions to someone else!

Just one mans opinion!


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