The Tangled Dynamics of Twitter Chat Advice

I am a regular on Twitter chat events and have been a participant, moderator and guest host on many of them. My latest endeavor is through a partnership with two scions of the Twittersphere, Cyndy Trivella (@CyndyTrivella) and Steve Levy (@LevyRecruits) in the Open Mic Career Chat (#OMCchat). Our objective in hosting this weekly chat… at Noon Eastern Time on Fridays… is to take the job search chat experience to a new level. Without presuming to speak for my colleagues, I think we have done that by challenging the status quo of ambiguous and fluffy job search advice, changing the format to one that calls for quick knee jerk opinions that can be debated online, and allowing a free flowing dialog which may at times appear to be a bit irreverent. Promoting that kind of freedom can also increase the tendency of human nature to intervene and undo all the best intentions. We sometimes forget that the online world is a mirror of the real world including the fact that there is a diverse cross section of talent, ability, honesty and integrity. Nobody should check-in to a Twitter chat session if their crap filters are not fully engaged because online is not reality. At best it is an imitation of reality, but that only becomes real by matching advice to personal need.

It is a good thing that we are only striving for a better chat because that “perfect chat” is not possible when human beings are involved. Being job seeker advocates, it is troubling that along with excellent advice from the pros, which at times may even appear conflicting, there is also occasional blatantly bad advice. Our job then is to keep the signal-to-noise ratio at a bearable level. Why does static happen?

  1. People are different – No two people have the same life experience so their perspectives will be different. Job seekers looking for a one-size-fits-all solution will almost always be disappointed. Every question will have multiple answers that must be weighed against the personal need of participants.
  2. There is not always a right or wrong answer – Sometime all paths lead to the same destination, but at the crossroads in life it can appear that everything depends on making the correct choice. The good news is that most paths also are very forgiving and allow midcourse corrections to change the way you reach your destination.
  3. Experts do not always agree – There is almost always more than one right answer. Because they all have arrived at their current station in life through different paths, their perception of next steps will differ. Listening to the experts will always be instructive if not taken out of context. Conflicting advice is not bad advice, but it does involve listening and choosing a very personal answer. 
  4. The experts are only human - There are multiple reasons for bad advice happening. Most of it is unintentional and for the most part participants may be giving the best advice from their body of knowledge. Bias can be introduced into the conversation for several reasons, primarily because of offering generalizations from a background that is limited in scope.

These are only a few of the many facets of human nature involved, but they all have one thing in common: These are not bad people. They are only people that are compelled by their humanness to act in a manner that can lead to misleading or incorrect advice. Diversity of thought is not something that needs to be fixed, but intentionally misleading a group for personal gain is almost universally bad… and this is a topic for another time.

Image credit: Business Man on High Wire by lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo


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