Last week, in my Social Internet class, our instructions were to coordinate our presentations for this week via Twitter. As a Twitter novice (and a sometimes anxious public speaker), I was a little concerned. I barely know how to use Twitter; how were we supposed to form our groups, decide on a topic, determine time slots, and work out all the little details using ≤ 140 characters to communicate?
As it turns out, it wasn’t so bad. With the help of HootSuite (which I have also never used), I was able to keep track of my classmates’ postings. It also helped that I tagged one person in a post with the suggestion of a topic, and the rest of our group just kind of flocked together. Using Twitter, we set our topic, finalized our group, then used a Google Docs page (again, novice) to exchange phone numbers and establish a meeting time; things I would not want publicized over social media. Our group worked well together, and the presentation was set in no time (with the help of some Panera and coffee, of course). Therefore, we organized the beginning stages of a presentation about social media using social media. Definitely a first.
But the meta wouldn’t stop there.
On presentation day (i.e. Monday), we were told there would be another part of this assignment: live tweeting. Yes, while we were presenting on a social media topic that we organized via social media, the “audience” (aka hostage classmates) would be discussing our presentation over social media (I think I’m getting a headache). It felt like Mean Girls waiting to happen. I just hope this is something never assigned to high school students. The world might actually implode.
However, we all seemed to manage okay. Not only were the others tweeting during our presentation, my group was tweeting during theirs, too. It was very strange at first, though. And it stretched my multitasking attention abilities a little thin initially — listening to the group present, filling out a worksheet for feedback, and tweeting anything that caught my interest… I felt a little like that I Love Lucy episode where she’s working in the factory and the belt goes on the fritz, so she starts stuffing chocolates everywhere.
But after a little while, I got the hang of it…and actually enjoyed it (there is a good possibility I made a Farmville joke during the video game culture presentation). It was intriguing that, while the group was presenting their research, the audience was actively engaged in this silent conversation. Going in, I thought the idea of live tweeting was pretty rude; some professors forbid laptops in class because they don’t want students distracted by Facebook or Twitter. Furthermore, I have witnessed students being asked to leave class because they were “playing” on their phones. My world tilted on its axis a little when I was instructed to do this thing I had always previously been told was BAD.
I’m still not sure where I stand on the issue, exactly. Live tweeting can definitely be a useful tool (and entertaining for sure), but I also think it should be used in moderation, lest we become so involved in tweeting that we forget to use a more primitive communication tool: our ears.