You Are What You Tweet

felfoldi twitter response to bmorrissey
felfoldi twitter response to bmorrissey

Recently, I stopped subscribing to @BMorrissey on Twitter. Brian Morrissey is the Digital Editor at Adweek. I stopped my subscription in reaction to a post like this:

Ran 5.75 miles in 42 mins and felt good. legs felt surprisingly perky after long time on the bike

My response, found at the beginning of this post, attracted the attention of several of his other subscribers. Some were private messages to me thanking me for having the guts to tweet what I did. Others were public postings from groupies, insulting my character and questioning my motives. @Armano pointed me to Morrissey’s blog posting on the tweet. Apparently I got him thinking. And he got me thinking, too.

In his blog posting Morrissey stated he started his Twitter account “not as a professional tool but a way to keep in touch with a few friends and family members”. 8,331 subscribers later, “it became something different.” Rather than start a new Twitter account targeting and relating to different audiences, Morrissey states that he would prefer to not “completely change what I share, even if plenty of people, like former follower David Felfoldi, find it superfluous.”

But I think my main point was missed in my 142 character tweet. My issue is not that he posts things outside his profession. In fact, my own Twitter feed is loaded with personal stuff including my own triathlon trials and tribulations. And I agree with Morrissey when he says that that it is often those very tweets that get the most response from my subscribers.

Rather, my issue is rooted in my non-personal relationship with Morrissey on a very-much public medium — Twitter. I started following Morrissey because of his professional vantage point. His bio on Twitter reads “Digital Editor at Adweek, marathon runner, cheeseburger connoisseur”. I had no problem with the marathon running tweets — it was the second thing on his bio! And while I haven’t seen many cheeseburger tweets recently, I share the passion. Morrissey, if you are ever in Atlanta I’d be happy to point you to the best hamburger joint in the Dirty South.

But then I noticed more and more posts on running. And then then Morrissey started posting his daily workout times and distances. I’ll be frank — I didn’t sign up to get a daily record of some guy’s workout. This reminded me of Jason Calacanic, CEO of Mahalo, who once started “Fat Blogging”. It wasn’t the fact that he was sharing his feelings about his health goals — I’d actually be OK with that. Rather, it was that he was giving daily updates of his actual weight. And, frankly, this behavior annoys me on both Twitter and in-person.

After a running or cycling race, several people — usually the loudest it seems — feel that it is OK to ask your or tell you their times. I truly don’t understand this. Unless you are an elite athlete, you didn’t even get close to the fastest time. So maybe it is a pride thing — you want to share how you did with others? But then I have to ask — are you also willing to share how much money you made last year with others? Your weight? How many calories you consumed daily? So why is it “ok” to ask or share your daily workout metrics? In other words, your personal best record is just that — personal.

So Morrissey, post away about your personal stuff. I’m with you on the triathlon training — I’ll update you on my progress if you feel that will make us closer. But I’m going to assume that most of your 8,331 subscribers aren’t that close enough to you to care. And, frankly, getting your workout schedule wasn’t what I signed up for. So I opted-out.

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9 thoughts on “You Are What You Tweet

  1. i think maybe you misread my post. i don’t care if you unfollow me. lots of people do, probably a dozen or so a week.

    what i wrote about was the struggle of the personal and professional. that’s cool you don’t care about some of the updates. i don’t find that information as intensely personal as you do. as i explained, it’s really just a feed from dailymile. (you should check out the site; it’s really cool.)

    in truth, the dailymile posts are, at most, six per week. since i update ~10x per day, we’re talking a small percentage. the question is whether there’s value. everyone has their own tastes. for you, there’s no value, less than none, actually. they clearly bothered you enough to state your disapproval rather than just stop following. no problem. but i’m not sure this is a monolithic thing. what’s deeply irrelevant to you is relevant to someone else and vice versa. i’m not sure what the answer is. i try to be quite relevant in what i post. but as i said, there are going to be people interested in different things.

    good luck w the training.

    • Brian: thanks for taking the time to respond. I see your point (and understand your math).

      I think I’m just reconsidering my own use of Twitter — whether it be for personal communication, tracking & sharing my personal life metrics, sharing information, etc. And part of making it easier for me to stay focused and relevant is to take away other distractions.

      Again, thanks for sharing. Please do share your tri day experience as well!

      Side note: In addition to personal non-business related tweets garnering a higher response rate, I found that asking a question — any question — receives the most.

  2. David,

    I have never insulted your character and questioned your motives. I simply asked on Twitter “i suppose it is ok to post your own workouts?”. I don’t see how this is offensive or how it questions your motives. I am very careful how I come across in public. Things like this are dangerous, because they can send a wrong message. Calling me a “groupie” is, to say the least, bad taste. You don’t know me, and you don’t know my relationship to Mr. Brian Morrissey. You should be more careful with statements like that, and especially with stating that someone wanted to offend you. Luckily, I haven’t tried to do so. Wonder what would have happened if I did. You obviously don’t take well even mild criticism. Not a good characteristic for being present in social media.

    The fact that you had a need to publicly scorn Mr. Morrissey for posting stuff that you personally are not interested in I find ridiculous. Mr. Morrissey is not a broadcasting channel or a public content provider; he is not obliged to please anyone. It is completely misplaced to be angry or annoyed or frustrated at person for posting what they are interested in. If you don’t like it, just tune out. No need for public criticism. Are you going to define how Twitter should be used? Honestly, all of this – your post, your Twitter updates, tell more about you than about Mr. Morrissey or his “groupies”.

    • I was referring to you public comment on Morrissey’s blog.

      That dude is a douche. He is posting his own workout routines, but somehow they are not measuring up. If he is really a “triathlon-wannabe” as his twitter bio claims, wouldn’t he be inspired by your updates? Like this, he just came across as jealous. Bad promo.
      Posted by: Ana Andjelic | July 14, 2009 at 10:11

      Perhaps I have the wrong Ana Andjelic.

  3. David,

    I think that you need a social media 101 lesson. The comment I left (of course it was me, and I still mean everything I said there) was a private one = it was written on someone’s blog, for a particular post, and for those people who are specifically going there to engage in the discussion around a very particular topic. In order for that comment to be found, there needed to be specific intention involved (and more than just few clicks). I did not broadcast my annoyance with you over Twitter for everyone to see without any effort. My comment was not in people’s faces. I do not have a need to publicly embarrass someone like you do. There is a big difference. If you can’t see it, that is indeed too bad.

    And, please don’t be so sensitive. There is always going to be someone who disagrees with you. There are going to be people who think that your actions can be characterized as “douche”. And, so what?

  4. I posted my time in the ING Georgia Half Marathon two years back. Now, I am well aware that this isn’t a good time (Heather and I walked/jogged the course, so it wasn’t a “running” time anyway. But I was proud to have finished and was hoping to be able to improve on my time in a future race, and show that improvement to friends, family, and of course, random internet strangers.

    It makes even more sense when you consider that my race time is publicly available information.

    After a running or cycling race, several people — usually the loudest it seems — feel that it is OK to ask your or tell you their times. I truly don’t understand this.</blockquote?

    So you wouldn't share the final score of a baseball game your team won? Or tell someone "I lost that tennis match 2-6, 6-3, 4-6"?

    But no, you're not a douche for saying what you did. Not even a Social Media Douche.

    • Garret: To challenge making open that which is already publically available — should you tell everyone your home value because it is a matter of open record? Regardless, my point is more regarding the individual training day metrics. I don’t understand why it is ok to ask/tell your mile time from some random day while it isn’t ok to ask/tel your salary from some random year. In both cases, it’s private, right? Then why is it posted to the most public of places — the Internet?

      Re: team scores — at first glance I wouldn’t probably talk about my team’s score for the same reasons as above. But, my rationale for if I did was because it was a team effort. No one person is bragging about themselves, but perhaps about a group of people.

  5. I’ve never followed Mr. Morrissey, but I have had similar issues with others (as have others with me). This time last year, I was feeding everything into Twitter (and then into Facebook). It all seemed to make sense, and I didn’t particularly care what the naysayers (people I didn’t actually know) said. Then, suddenly, I realized actual friends were removing me on FB. Part of me thought that I shouldn’t censor anything, but the other part recognized I have a wide variety of friends and people of various backgrounds on FB. While some might enjoy all of my Brightkite postings (and there were a LOT, as I’ve checked into more locations than anyone else in the world), others didn’t really get it. I became “that guy” to some people. One former friend refuses to talk to me because he found it to be very arrogant to tell people where I was at any given time, as if to say those that weren’t with me were somehow inferior (I’m sorta translating his babbling).

    Eventually, I saw the light and decided to make some changes late last summer, moving Brightkite postings to a separate Twitter account and untethering Twitter from FB. There are a couple of folks that still won’t follow me again, and I’m okay with that. Of course, there are thousands of more folks that are following me now, but that’s also the nature of Twitter…lots more people on board but not nearly as many conversations as in the old days. Although I was pretty bull-headed about the whole thing at one point (I AM a Bull, after all), I kinda laugh when I look back at all that I was feeding the Twitterverse.

    I still struggle with real friends that simply put too much in their stream. I don’t want to know every song you’re playing on blip.fm during the workday. I don’t want to know that you’re just *considering* going to lunch, what you’re thinking about doing every second of the day, etc. It’s that 80/20 rule, or maybe more like 95/5, with 5% of folks I follow seemingly creating 95% of the tweets. I’ve unfollowed about 2k people in the last couple of months and continue to remove more each day. I guess I’m just clearer about what I’m seeking from this sort of social media than I was two years or even a few months ago. I won’t unfollow real friends (though many have unfollowed me) but sometimes I wish I could mute every third tweet or so.

    The summary, if there is one: Twitter and the like continue to evolve, and these issues will eventually resolve (or the medium will simply become irrelevant).

    • I’ve heard that Facebook is considering buying out Twitter. Considering the senselessness of Facebook status updates, I’m assuming we will go the route of irrelevant.

      In my opinion, this is one of those “do I forward this email to all my friends” netiquette questions. Years from now I think our society will look back and say “Wow, we posted our training times? What a goofball we were!”

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