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Humble Pie and Twitter’s Value to Enterprise

Perhaps it is the anonymous nature of internet interaction that allows people to spew egomaniacal and nasty vitriol. After all, the spewers never have to look their victim in the eye, sit in the same meeting, or go to the same church. A virtual community is cannot yet wield as much power with social norms that a real life one can. The immature among us take advantage of this.

On May 2nd, 2008, after being hit by such “trolls” on Twitter, I posed a question about ‘humility’ as a virtue. Below is a photoshopped version of the Twitter conversation that followed. (The timeline is slightly out of chronology, due to time zone differences and the reordering of my responses to be in proximity to the relevant Tweets.)

Has anyone presented a Twitter conversation like this before? If you have another example, please link me in the comments section. It’s an interesting read for the thoughts on humility, but it’s also an intriguing way for enterprise to look at Twitter’s function. Look how quickly I got responses. Then examine the quality. Some replies were funny, others profound, and others leading off into related conversations. The wise @RickWolf came through with an insightful and defining reply, all within 140 characters.

A good CEO, humble enough to realize that her business’s greatest asset is its employees, could use Twitter as an efficient and cheap way to get a knee-jerk feel from a team or client base, to start information gathering, to begin database building, all without a physical meeting. Twitter is a fun and easy way to tap into the knowledge those assets have. To trolls and business leaders alike, step down from your thrones, be silent, and listen to the living, breathing wisdom in Twitter.

If you missed out on the conversation, please comment here. And thanks, everyone, for your answers! I always learn a lot from you.

Twitter Conversation on Humility

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Doug McCaughan 5 May 2008, 1:47 pm

    Chris Brogan (http://twitter.com/chrisbrogan) often posts twitter conversations like this. I think Darren Rouse at http://problogger.net/ has done this also but I can’t find an example right now. Perhaps it was Tim at http://www.spyjournal.biz/ but I can’t find an example there either.

    Ok. I’ll stick with @chrisbrogan

    It’s effective!

  • Dan Grady 5 May 2008, 2:13 pm

    I’ve thought a lot about this topic, especially lately, where lessons on humility have abounded at work, home, with family. I’m new(er) to twitter and one of the things that I immediately noticed is that it seemed to be another great equalizer where any/all opinions could be expressed, if not necessarily heard, liked, or followed.

    The medium itself, perhaps social media as a whole, tends to reward those who speak out vs. those who are silent, and I think for those who are less prone to or comfortable with speaking out, verbosity and confidence may be read as a lack of humility, when someone simply may be “being themself.” Silence is at its best observered publicly, and @rickwolf ‘s comments are spot-on about its virtue and value.

    As for humility, like many I have much to learn, and in particular that confidence and humility go hand-in-hand to making one effective in releationships and in the marketplace. Where I work, we spend much time training our workers to be confident (especially in front of customers) and at the same time to be incredible listeners and to value others supremely.

  • Annie Boccio 5 May 2008, 8:54 pm

    I often get frustrated when it seems like everyone is trying to get in the last word, top what was said before. I see this not just in social media but in real life as well- seems that people are afraid if they don’t counter something they disagree with then others will think they’re tacitly agreeing. At some point someone has to step back or it just goes on and on…

    On you’re other point- a couple months ago I posted a funny conversation I had with Sarah Vela over Twitter, Seesmic, & Utterz, pasting it all together in my blog :).

  • Forrest 6 May 2008, 2:33 pm

    IMNSHO (!) there is much confusion about humility and pride.

    These words which USED to mean something, but in the age of PC (that’s “political-correctness”, which bears _no_ relation to our host, PC!) are now firmly established newspeak.

    Pride USED to mean the excessive love of one’s own excellence.

    And Humility USED to mean the virtue “by which a man knows himself as he truly is” [which is limited and imperfect.]

    By these definitions, Humility is a prerequisite for many things, such as learning and does not preclude tooting your own horn.

    Pride on the other hand, is never good because because it is excessive, and therefore always getting in the way, stopping
    you from getting something even better.

    Seeking attention, or being bold and courageous, is not necessarily Prideful. But it is Prideful if not humble in doing it.

    Being silent is not necessarily humble. It can be Prideful.

    OK, coming down from my prideful philosophical stump….

    I think the social media Internet is way biased towards “the instant.” The adrenaline rush is fun and all, but constant demands for reactive interactions is stressful. It’s either fight or flight. Get it out of the way and move on.

    I think we humans have a pretty good internal “Bogus Spew” detector, and can tell what’s puffery and what is not. (Maybe its because we are saturated with advertisements every 5 minutes on TV, and every second on the web, and can be critical.)

    But it is Brave New World to have to decide how to filter it all.

    I think the antonym to “instant” is “relationship.” Twitter and other social media can permit that, but it’s a LOT of work to engender relationship in the current UIs.

    These UIs seem to be specifically designed to distract, not focus.
    More page views. More clicks. More banners. More sidebar gadgets. Think less. Click more.

    Anyone agree?

    – Forrest

    4 out of 5 victims agree….The best food for trolls is silence.

  • Forrest 6 May 2008, 2:56 pm

    Christianity holds that Jesus is divine, and therefore perfect and all-powerful, but also truly humble by becoming human and limited in the exercise of his powers, limits by his own choice.

    Confessing this creed defines whether you are Christian or not,
    for all branches of Christianity, back to the Apostles.

  • Mari 9 May 2008, 12:42 pm

    I missed out on the conversation. And I do apologize for being so absent from both Twitter and Seesmic lately; things around here have been chaos the last two months.


    It never fails to amaze me how people can so tightly latch on to the idea that the Internet is “just words on a screen”. This of course does nothing but permit and perpetuate Internet abuses of all kinds. And it’s a shame.