Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Twitter Chat: Applying a Learned Lesson

My highlights of July can be summed up rather quickly: yacht rides with Nicki Minaj, meals at five star restaurants, countless open bars and a byline. Just halfway into the month I already have enough stories to make my friends at home envious, even when I give the driest of recaps. "Oh yeah, I interviewed Kevin Hart," I'll say. "No big deal."

I work hard, I'll admit. But everyone needs a break, so I made a weekend escape. I love New York, but I couldn't miss the opportunity to go home. No, not Ohio, where I was born and raised. I went to the city that made a woman out of me: Washington D.C.

This past weekend marked my sorority's centennial celebration, held in the District. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was founded on Howard's campus by 22 illustrious women. In honor of the legacy our founders left behind  40,000 women dressed in crimson and cream from head to toe. As I surfed this sea of red, witnessing my campus and city like never before, I fell in love. The euphoric feeling ran through the chakras along my spinal cord all day on Saturday. I floated as I greeted my line sisters and sorors. I felt as if wings had sprouted from my back as I was surrounded by nothing by love. The day felt unreal.

Evening fell. I looked at the Associated Press alert on my phone and the entire day went sour. "Breaking," it read at 9:59 p.m. "Jurors have found George Zimmerman not guilty." Reality check.

I froze as my tear ducts began to swell. I told my friends. They reacted. I wish I could recollect their reactions, but I was so upset that I tuned everyone out. I came to eventually and read my Twitter feed. I saw some insightful tweets, some disgusting remarks but mostly rants. I wanted to contribute. I wanted to give my opinion, but I remembered what I represent. 

I am not Taryn the enraged college student with a Twitter account. I am Taryn the journalist. Journalists are known to give their opinion on news from time to time on social media, especially more often today than in the past. Although my Twitter page is conversational, I realize the importance of remaining objective in the face of the public, especially for a new journalist such as myself. My followers aren't just college kids. They are fellow journalists, editors and potential employers. I had to protect my brand.

It's hard not to voice my opinion on something I'm passionate about. Although my beautiful day turned bitter and I couldn't vent via social media, I realized that it's just a part of the journalistic game. Unless your name is already known, your opinion is irrelevant. 

As a recovering Twitter addict, I know how powerful a tool Twitter is. I'll just have to learn to use its power to report more, give my opinion less and show people how awesome my life is in between.

Follow me to make sure I stay true to my word: @_TARYNitUP

By Taryn Finley, Howard University, ESSENCE Magazine
Edited by Allison Pohle, University of Missouri-Columbia, Ladies' Home Journal

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