By Victor Adams
Twitter might cost you your job, but not for the reason you think. Not a lot of people would disagree that Twitter is a giant time-suck. But is that time worse than just wasted?
Sure, you might lose your job if you post against the grain. That’s nothing Earth shattering. But if you aren’t savvy enough to govern your emotions on social media, you were a dead-man-walking anyway. You might lose your job because you’re spending work-time on the service. But pretty much everyone can hide their use. Besides, if your boss spends his day time-stamping your posts, well, you probably don’t want to be there either.
But that isn’t the biggest risk. Twitter is going to cost you your jobs because it can distort how you interact with others. Specifically, clients and co-workers. Social Media is the land of sarcasm. And its capital city, Twitter, is the Manhattan of repercussion-less snark. Snark is that nasty half-sentence in which you imply both that you’re right, and that the other person is dumb.
It’s a soliloquy, not a dialogue.
For some reason, success on social media appears to lend credibility to people. That’s a leftover from the pre-social media meaning of the word. In the Old English of 1999, to follow someone meant to be some level of a devotee; agreeing in part, if not whole, to their views or beliefs. For someone to have a lot of followers, they had to conduct a dialogue and convince people of something. Not necessarily at the Moses or Jonestown level, but certainly you held a general agreement.
In 2020, if you follow a person’s Twitter account, their writings as it were, you aren’t a disciple of theirs. Generally, that person made a sarcastic comment you found funny. That’s it! And yet, the snarky comments from a person with millions of followers are often viewed as internet Gospel. Or business wisdom. Or worse, pure truth. Moses, but sarcastic Moses. If only the Charlemagne had it so easy. Giving credence to a person with a following is a remnant of the old usage. It probably shouldn’t apply today.
But it does, so to build that audience for credibility, you need not only content but time. Lots and lots of time on the network. You also have to communicate in the language of the network; sarcastic snark. So when you add the language of the network to the time spent on it, you become fluent in a language the real world hates.
At some point, you’re going to be dealing with a client who has a problem. You will, through sheer habit, respond with snark to prove you are right. Why? Because proving you are right is a main point of the network, and you’re fluent.
Then you’re going to learn a lesson. Real human beings, the clients paying your wages, they don’t live on Twitter. They don’t do snark. They want their problem fixed. They don’t want to hear why you’re right.
That’s the point where the client forwards your snark to your boss, along with a string of hostility. You’re going to lose your job over that behavior. Your boss isn’t going to risk their family’s future for your half-clever tongue.
You’ll catch another job maybe, but the outcome will be the same. According to Omnicore research, 22% of US adults use Twitter. Less than half use it daily. That means most people don’t speak snark. It makes you unemployable in the real world, which means you’ll just spend more time on the social network reinforcing the behavior.
As the former owner of multiple businesses, would I hire someone with 90,000 followers? Absolutely not.
Maybe things will change. Maybe people will learn to ignore snark. Maybe someone will remove the network’s litigation shield and snark, as a language, disappears. Until then, do yourself a favor and focus on the paying job at hand.
Victor Adams is a retired franchisee, independent business owner, and Siberian husky breed snob. He is the author of the satirical adventure, The Last One Out, available on Amazon.