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Musings: Maybe Twitter should stop, think and then tweet

By Jane Hagl & Lauren AguirreJuly 5, 2017

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L: On the Fourth of July, NPR decided to tweet out the Declaration of Independence — 140 characters at a time. Many news outlets publish the Declaration on Independence Day in various forms. However, there were several people on Twitter who misunderstood NPR’s intentions. Many replies included questioning why a news outlet was trying to incite a revolution. Some even thought NPR was criticizing President Trump or spreading propaganda. I personally can’t get over how so many people didn’t realize they were directly quoting a historical document.

J: It’s like that Jimmy Kimmel segment when he asks random pedestrians history or current event questions and then people don’t look so bright.

L: Definitely, but in that situation, I can excuse it to an extent. Being in the spotlight makes it kind of hard to think. I feel like a lot of these tweets were emotional responses. If they had taken two seconds to click on the tweet and view the conversation NPR was posting, they would have figured out what was happening. It was the Fourth of July, after all. Too many people choose not to investigate or acknowledge context clues.

J: Well, stop, thinking and then speaking ( tweet) wasn’t emphasized to the same extent as stop, drop and roll was. Currently, emotional responses generally take precedent to rational expressions. But also how many people can recognize the words of the Declaration of Independence off the top of their head?

L: I would say it takes a very dedicated person to memorize a historical founding document. But even for Twitter, the language was old-fashioned. I find it funny that a lot of reactions were to call NPR biased and stoke distrust of journalism when they were actually posting direct quotes. Maybe if they had tweeted the Constitution, more people would have recognized it? I feel like the internet gives us a lot more data points than we’ve ever had before as to the education and common sense of the people using it.

J:  Does anything on the internet surprise you?The internet can bring the worst out in people and data helps collect that for sure. That same data shows as information, tech, and data increase common skills, cognitive deduction, and general knowledge concurrently decreases in the middle section of the bell curve. Plus, people are prone to stupid in group internet think.

L: Emotions always cloud judgment. I really doubt people are really as dumb as they appear to be online sometimes. Some people make fun of weird Google searches or odd Yahoo question submissions. But making fun of people asking for knowledge doesn’t help. It might be common knowledge that they should have, but the fact that they are asking means they know they lack information and are trying to find it. That should be applauded, rather than mocked. Humility and learning are a lot closer together than most people think.

J: 21st centuryGoogle is the 21st-century version of ask and you shall receive. Education, in general, has changed, though.

L: That’s definitely true. Many school districts have eliminated cursive handwriting from their curriculum and many teach computer literacy and typing. I imagine there might be a day when handwriting as we know it disappears from common use.

J: Probably, but comprehension and cognitive deduction are necessary skills whether you’re living in 1776 or 2076.