Overheard: Is It Right or Wrong to Tweet Other People’s Business?

Posted by on Nov 23, 2011

Admit it ladies, you eavesdrop. When you’re sandwiched on the train between the elderly man ready to snooze on your shoulder and two gal pals engaged in a juicy conversation about so-and-so’s you-know-what with you-know-who, you find yourself leaning in closer to the readily available exchange of gossip.

But what happens if the situation-in-question itself plays out right in front of you and you have no one to share your discoveries with? On a recent Tuesday, web developer Andy Boyle was dining in a local Burger King when a couple in proximity went verbally at it in a too-good-to-be-ignored breakup. So what is a man with only a whopper and his fries to do? Live-tweet it all of course.

Welcome to the generation of hearsay tweeting! What your ears fall upon, whether it’s music lyrics, news tidbits or interesting observations, the first reaction is to put it on Twitter. But for embarrassing public conversations, is it an invasion of privacy to tweet every detail of someone else’s personal life? Who’s at fault if the situation isn’t so discreet?

According to Boyle, a couple most likely in their early 20’s were going head-to-head at a Burger King in a not-so-private lovers’ quarrel. The boyfriend’s complaint: she didn’t wash the dishes when his mother asked to. The girlfriend’s defense: She didn’t cheat. Both claims were somehow lost in translation during Boyle’s live-tweeting session but all problems apply in relationships. If it’s not one thing, it’s everything.

What’s amazing is his spot-on hearing as he tweets quotes from the boyfriend verbatim: “Baby,” he says. “I only say these things because I want you to be a better wife.” The restaurant does not believe him.”

Now imagine yourself in the couple’s position. On one hand, it’s flattering to think that a stranger would take time out of his precious life to document your business in a descriptive tweeting session in real-time. On the other, would you want a fight between you and your significant put on blast in a 20+ tweet fest? It’s one thing to change your relationship status on Facebook every other day but to have the details available to you on social media behind the break is somewhat mortifying.

People across the country were tweeting Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries’ split like it was everyone’s business and in a way it was, because as a celebrity or figure in the spotlight, a piece (if not all) of your privacy is automatically forfeited. As normal civilians who don’t have a reality show but go through situations that merit one, our lives should not be put on blast on social media, especially without our knowledge. Boyle even went so far as to post pictures of the couple and Instagram where they sat. Tell me that’s not extra!

Let this be a lesson to you, Vixens. As dramatic and glamorous as our lives can be, be weary of the pseudo-paparazzi that sometimes exist in the strangers beside you. You won’t want your breakup to be the next trending topic. -Adelle Platon (@adelleplaton)

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