We were going to whip up an argument about why Paul Boutin’s piece on Gadgetwise entitled Why President Obama Needs to Tweet is a load of bunk. But when we re-read it, we felt too sorry for Boutin to attack him. Dissatisfied by the tweets of “the daytime-TV host Oprah Winfrey and the second-tier celebrity Ashton Kutcher,” it seems the New York Times blogger is just a guy, blogging about a guy who happens to be the President, and asking him to tweet back at him. It’s kind of sweet in a way.
But two quick points we’d like to make against his two points:
1. “The White House staff could easily deliver one solid message per day. They could start by tweeting each week’s video address, to remind us to watch it.” Yes, we understand that Twitter is a peerless platform for making ideas viral. But Obama’s Twitter feed won’t work if it’s not coming from him, or at least someone ghostwriting as him. (Maybe the dude who was pretending to be Christopher Walken is available?) And if it’s only used for boring reminders from his staff, people will start to tune it out, fast. Like what’s currently up there? Snore.
2. “Second, Twitter, used as a sort of micro-blog, is a humanizing medium that can put a face on the sprawling, distant bureaucracy of government.” It’s only been a little over 100 days, and most of us already know more about Obama than we did about W. over the course of 8 years. Sure, it’s by choice, but it’s not like Obama is hiding behind some cloak of secrecy. Transparency is great, but never underestimate the power of a hint of mystery.
Also: The idea that it doesn’t take much time because it’s only 140 characters or less is ridiculous. This is the President. And one of the most literary ones we’ve had in a long time. We can only imagine the grueling self-editing he’d go through trying to come up with the perfect turn of phrase.
There was a time when we rejected Twitter. We didn’t like it. We thought it was stupid. And then our sassy intern hooked us up with a TweetDeck and a swift kick in the pants, and now we’re kind of addicted. We use terms like retweet and hashtag. But that doesn’t mean we think the President needs to be an active Twitter user. Isn’t his Facebook news feed enough?
Side note: You’ve got to hand it to Oprah for making such a big whooptydoo about getting on Twitter and then not using it. She duped us. She dupidity duped us. SMDH.