Where Work Ends and Twitter Begins
When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is check my cell phone. Before I brush my teeth, make breakfast, or even sit up, I have to check Twitter.
This is no one’s fault but my own. I have become that mediated friend who genuinely can’t be away from her phone. My college friends kind of hate me for it. They glare out of the corner of their eye when they see me tapping away during a lull in dinner conversation. They didn’t quite understand when I had to skip a wilderness wedding because I genuinely couldn’t chance not having an internet connection.
A couple of years ago during a trip to LA, the joke among the group was how absurd they found it that I claimed reading my Twitter feed was “work”. ”Hard at work little Twitter bird?” While I think their stance has changed since, they didn’t understand that keeping tabs on the poker world via Twitter really was imperative in order to keep up with what was going on in the community.
I can only assume (hope?) this problem extends beyond poker. The more smart phones, tablets, laptops, and social media seek to improve our lives, the more I feel tied to my job. During the WSOP, I find it is only when I am asleep that I get to log off and, even then, I fully expect texts or calls to come in all but about two hours of the day.
Moreover, I don’t even feel like my Twitter account is always my own. Caesars is relatively lenient in their social media policies, basically asking that, as an employee, I try not to publicly embarrass myself and to avoid criticizing the company, both of which seem like more than reasonable requests. However, the nature of my job is where this Twitter friction arises.
Thanks to the small pool of poker media members and positions that have previously put me in poker’s public eye a fair amount, people within the community know who I am. They also know what I do.
While I am certainly content to answer the occasional work-related Tweet on my personal account, one thing needs to be clear: it is my personal account. I enjoy sending out WSOP-related stats and I like offering insight on the events from the floor. I would also be lying if my social media profile didn’t have some influence on me getting the position I currently hold.
If you are wondering how difficult it could possibly be to deal with a few pesky Tweets about start times or complaining about structures, the Twitter harassment that stems from my job is worse than you think. In the not quite seven months I have worked for WSOP, I have had an impostor on Twitter who told me I deserved to get raped in an alley, I’ve had someone send out 10-12 Tweets in a row assaulting my character for a WSOP-related issue in Britain I still don’t fully understand that involves a Partridge that neither resides in a pear tree nor rides around in a bus singing with their family, and at least once every couple of weeks someone gets on my case about the Circuit, the livestream, or some other relatively insignificant issue in the greater scheme of things.
I am not complaining. This is part of the gig and there are plenty of upsides that far outweigh these online nuisances. I like getting feedback, positive and negative, and Twitter has that in spades. Plus, every time I see what WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage and WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel have to put up with, I thank my lucky stars that my job and my Twitter account don’t go more hand in hand.
Here is something I don’t think some people fully understand—Matt and Jack’s Twitter accounts are theirs. They aren’t managed by WSOP or WPT, they don’t get paid by the Tweet. Yet, I see these two guys with seemingly endless patience answer just about every question that comes their way.
On occasion, they don’t though. And every time they don’t because the question was abrasive, rude, uncalled for, or because they were off doing something like sleeping or spending time with family, I seem to see one person or another question their professionalism.
The action of blocking people on Twitter meets even more scrutiny. The argument some pose is that it is their obligation to put up with people they would never tolerate meddling in their personal lives off the clock because their jobs and, in turn, their Twitter feeds need to be open to everyone at all times. I guess I can understand in the sense that businesses don’t call block their customers.
But businesses don’t divulge their employees’ personal information like emails, phone numbers, and addresses either. You see where I am going here…?
Am I being unreasonable to expect that my Twitter feed has boundaries? That I don’t have to answer every @ reply? Or that I can even operate the @WSOP Twitter in business hours only? I desperately need an “off” switch in this world that always seems to be on, but I don’t know if being constantly plugged in is just part of the bargain when it comes to my job.
These aren’t rhetorical questions. I genuinely don’t know where to draw the line. I know the expectations for Jack and Matt are, in my mind, absurd. To tell these guys how to RT, what to Tweet, and complain that, when someone harasses them on Twitter, they choose to block it rather than engage, is just way too much to ask. If you don’t like what they Tweet or how they Tweet, don’t follow them. No one is forcing you to follow them, so stop forcing them to not be able to walk away from the job at the end of the day and relax.
But I still haven’t figured out where and when to say my Twitter account is mine. Opting to take part in social media implies you have to socialize, but if these are people I wouldn’t want to have my phone number, isn’t it fair to put up boundaries and not establish an all-hours channel to contact me about whatever issue you see fit and expect a response?