Listening with your Mouth

My son talks a LOT. We joke that his mouth has always been an exit: spitting up asĀ  baby, drooling and then talking, talking, talking talking.

We keep telling him that he has 2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 nostrils but only one mouth. More information should come in than goes out. He doesn't like to hear that, and it doesn't stop him from talking about stuff. Frankly, talking is his "default setting," it's how he interacts with his environment. He asks questions, he (sometimes) listens to the answers and he gathers data.

It's like how people use Twitter.

The mantra in the social media world is "you must be listening," but I'm quickly realizing that "listening" means talking. Frankly, the social media world rewards talking more than listening, it's why people put out Tweets every day that say things like "what a wonderful morning!" It doesn't add much to the overall conversation factually, but it keeps them in front of others and provides a positive attitude.

This struck home the other day when hen a Twitter glitch dropped everyone's followers to 0, I found out about the problem by reading my stream. Frankly, I wouldn't have noticed if it wasn't pointed out, since I use Tweetdeck and don't see my follower numbers unless I actively look. But a number of people noticed it. A quick search on my stream brought me to a number of articles that had already been posted on the subject, including a few about the Force-follow command.

The whole event sparked some interesting conversations and jokes. Ellen Rossano asked what happens if all this suddenly goes away. It's surprising how quickly we've begun to rely on the Twitter stream for information.

But well into the Twitter-pocolypse I still saw tweets from people who had been around for quite a while (and, before the glitch, had many, many followers) saying "What happened to my followers, does anyone know?" That said to me that they weren't listening.

When I called it out on Twitter, Amy Black pointed out that many people aren't following their stream all day. It's a fair point. But then, why not use the search? Why not see what's there before speaking? The answer, I believe, is that asking the question is a way of listening, put out a tweet and see what comes back.

But I still think the ears work better than the mouth.

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