RumsfeldThe other night I attended an event at the Atlanta History Center; An Evening with Donald Rumsfeld.  Rumsfeld was in town to promote his recently released book, RUMSFELD’S RULES and since my radio station and our sister station (biz1190 AM and Talk920 AM in Atlanta) were sponsoring the event, I was invited to attend with a guest.

I invited my good friend and social media advisor Dorothéa Bozicolona-Volpe from Social Espionage to join me.  As the talk got started, Dorothéa leaned over and whispered, “That was a great quote, you should be tweeting that.”

Tweeting during an event is not something I would normally do, for the following reasons:

1 – It wouldn’t occur to me to do it.
2 – It’s a pain in the butt.
3- It’s rude.  I hate when people have their phones out at a movie theater.  Those little bright screens popping up in my peripheral vision distract and annoy me.
4 – While I’m busy tweeting, I’m missing the next bit of what the speaker is saying… and hearing the speaker is the reason I came to the event in the first place!

But Dorothéa is the expert and so I decided to do it.  Here is what I tweeted:

1 – The picture you see above.
2 – “If you don’t know where your going, any road will get you there” #RumsfeldATL
3 – If you’re in a bind, create a diversion. #RumsfeldATL
4 – “Congress is like 535 ants floating down the Potomac on a log, each one thinking they’re steering. #RumsfeldATL
5 – “You never want to hire someone you can’t fire.” #RumsfeldATL
6 – “Weakness is provocative” #RumsfeldATL

First of all, I have to admit, these are great quotes and there is a part of me that is glad I took a moment to record them.  But the rest of me is not so sure I did the right thing.  So, let’s look at the result of my behavior:

Did I amass a legion of new twitter followers by tweeting these pearls?  Nope.
Did I get any re-tweets?  Not a one.
Did I annoy the people around me?  Probably.
Did I look like I was texting my friends and not interested in the event?  Most likely.
Did I miss a good percentage of what Rummy had to say?  Yup.

So all in all, I went against my better judgement in an attempt to participate in this digital world of ours and I kind of regretted it.  Okay not kind of… totally.

And to add insult to injury, after my tweeting, I was trying to do something with my iPhone and somehow managed to invoke Siri who (even though my phone was on silent) caused a loud beep when I accidentally invoked her and then another loud beep when I turned her off.  Blargh!  Heads turned.  I was embarrassed.  I will note that there were several other cell phone generated rings and beeps throughout the event that did not come from me, which was some comfort, but still.

This idea of sort of half checking out of an event, whether it be a family gathering or a public talk like this one is nothing new.  People have been doing it with cameras forever.  I remember consciously deciding not to take too many pictures at some of my daughter’s events over the years, like her ballet recitals and graduations, etc. because I wanted to be fully engaged in those events and not missing anything while busily trying to shoot the best picture.

But the tweeting thing has more angles to it.  First of all, we tweet, not just for posterity’s sake, but to engage our followers in what we are doing and to possibly attract new followers.  This is all part of brand building and ultimately marketing and selling ourselves.  Secondly, we are tweeting not just to gain popularity, but to share and educate our followers with something they couldn’t see first hand.  And lastly, one could also argue that we (the tweeters) are actually helping the event we are attending by giving it more publicity.

So, to tweet, or not to tweet?  Though I fully respect Dorothéa’s advice, her mission in this instance was to teach me to how to effectively participate in social media.  Which I think I did.  I like what I tweeted and I stand by it.  But, she was less focused on my emotional state or the emotional state of those around me.  I felt rude, I probably missed some good stuff, and I very well may have lessened the enjoyment for my fellow attendees.  I think next time perhaps, I will bring a very old-fashioned pencil and paper, jot some quotes and tweet them later.  Or maybe I’ll just fully engage and not worry about myself, my brand or my followers for the duration of the event, (whatever it may be).

To Donald Rumsfeld I say – Sorry if I was rude during your event, but great talk.
To the people sitting near me I say – Sorry if I took away from your evening.
To you I say – What do you think?  To Tweet or Not To Tweet?