Liberal New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who has a little over one million followers on Twitter, explained to his readers last week that he really can’t be bothered with the micr0-blogging service:
One reason is that I have better things to do with my time. Another is that I don’t think my instant reactions to things are especially interesting. But I have to admit that I’ve also been aware for some time how many people end up destroying themselves by tweeting something really offensive.
Why do people do this? Well, it turns out that many prominent people have inner demons of one kind or another — often homophobia, but also racism, sexism, or just some kind of generalized contempt for large numbers of other people. And social media make it all too easy for those demons to slip out in front of a large audience.
I don’t think I have any demons like that, but who knows? And if I do make uncomfortable discoveries about myself, I’d like to do it in private, thank you.
It’s Krugman’s right to just auto-tweet, many people do it. My own account auto-retweets many of the articles that appear on the Accuracy in Media site, because it’s far easier for me than having to do it myself, especially when I’m traveling. Based on the general response, my followers don’t seem to mind one bit. But unlike Krugman, I do add in a lot of personal commentary and other news, as I see Twitter as a great tool for interacting with other like-minded conservatives.
Both liberal and conservative members of Congress realize that Twitter is important for interacting with their constituents and other members, but few of them actually tweet themselves. It is usually handled by a staff member, which is better than nothing.
But somehow the advantages of using Twitter seem to escape Krugman.
I won’t defend the thousands of perfectly useless and embarrassing tweets that people can’t seem to stop issuing—namely celebrities, and politicians like Anthony Weiner—but they are dwarfed by the huge number of useful and informative tweets that populate the twitterverse every day.
Krugman may think that he’s a little too important to be bothered with Twitter, but he’s missing a huge opportunity to expand his reach and he doesn’t even know it.