Twitter is an unusual tool. We’re able to read and reply to our friends’ quips in real time. It’s a news hub, a land of hilarious viral videos, social activism and Roger Ebert.
So, imagine if you will, the stark contrast that hit me when a friend retweeted Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, moments after he’d given word to have convicted killer Ronnie Lee Gardner’s execution carried out.”I just gave the go ahead to Corrections Director to proceed with Gardner’s execution. May God grant him the mercy he denied his victims.”
Death by firing squad. No matter your opinion on capitol punishment, it was a haunting thought. Of course, the media pounced, questioning Shurtleff’s tact. Should a government official be live-tweeting an execution? No, he did not give a thorough play-by-play, but some claimed the act was superficial and undercut the seriousness of the moment. Shurtleff disagreed and tweeted, “I believe in an informed public. As elected official I use social media to communicate directly with people.”
Somewhere in there lies the real question: How do we see social media? As an outlet? A news source? A way to let everyone know how much you liked your breakfast and that the video of that kitten is like, the cutest thing ever?
Does Twitter have a rubric of etiquette? And if so, did Shurtleff just stomp all over it? You tell us.