Social media has been around for a long time and you would think that people in high-profile positions would be more careful with what they say in public.
However this certainly wasn't the case for a certain Nike shoe designer who created a maelstrom on Twitter with his views that mocked a top athlete in the U.S. on Tuesday this week.
ESPN reported that a Nike shoe designer by the name of Jason Petrie mocked Derrick Rose's season-ending injury on Twitter by saying that Rose should have signed with Nike after the Chicago Bulls superstar tore his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in the final minutes of Game 1 of Chicago's Eastern Conference quarterfinals series against the Philadelphia 76ers.
"You got one guy only getting stronger, and one guy breaking down before our very eyes. You chose poorly Pooh... #shouldasignedwithNIKE #GWS" read Petrie's tweet, referring also to LeBron James'--a Nike-sponsored star--and the Miami Heat's 33-point Game 1 victory over the New York Knicks.
Rose had signed a long-term deal with rival shoemaker Adidas in February, noted ESPN.
The story goes on to say that Petrie tried to pacify his followers by tweeting: "Y'all take sh#t too serious! Never want to see anyone get hurt - I hope DRose comes back stronger than ever, he's too good..."
But later, ESPN noted that FoxSports.com reported that Petrie then went back on the offensive Saturday, writing, "Just to set the record straight- if you ain't with me you against me, and if that's the case I don't give a F about you!" On Sunday morning, Petrie apologized for his comments.
"Wow! Twitterverse I do apologize. It was really just tongue n cheek! Never meant any harm or disrespect!" he tweeted.
This back-and-forth comments made by Petrie beg the question: should such tweets be made in the first place? And if so, were they done in the heat of the moment? Or was it a calculated move done to spur controversy so that publicity mileage can be gained out of it?
It's impossible to tell the real reason behind those tweets but the fact that we live in an "always on, always ubiquitous" online world certainly fuels such tweets as people are naturally drawn to controversy.
In fact as a practising journalist, I've come to realize that Twitter and other social media tools are the new news wires of today, contrary to what some may think. With the reach and ubiquity that Twitter has, there's just no stopping how it can be turned into a useful tool to disseminate news of public interest and of significance to readers.
But with this power also comes the potential for misuse and misinformation. And with so much at stake, I believe we need basic ground rules for this process. Some may suggest using "common sense" is good enough to judge, but one can argue that common sense isn't so common after all. For me, here are some guidelines that can be used before tweeting:
1. Don't tweet when you're angry and when you're prone to react;
2. If you are uninformed on a particular topic, don't tweet about it and then pretend as if you know what you're talking about, especially if they're about sensitive topics;
3. Keep your tweets personal, interesting, relevant and as civil as possible. Add to that a dash of humor and you will win more fans that way;
4. On retweeting, don't just blindly do it; check the original source and/or multiple sources, whenever possible, before doing so.