As the topic du jour, every media outlet is attempting to find an angle on the Twitter story so it can jump on the bandwagon without playing the same song.
Last night was WGBH’s turn. Beth Israel Hospital CEO Paul Levy and I made a joint appearance on Greater Boston, hosted by Emily Rooney, to talk about the value of Twitter as a tool for executives. We’re both active users. It was a terrific conversation and Emily gave us the opportunity to share perspectives on Twitter’s value when it comes to real time search, crowd sourcing, access to content, and a way to meet interesting people we may never encounter in our daily lives.
Hopefully viewers learned that Twitter doesn’t matter because of what it is, it matters because of what you can do with it.
But before we went on, there was another segment far more compelling. The subject was mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenders. In Massachusetts, since the 1980s, if you’re convicted of selling drugs within 1000 feet of a school, whether to a student or not, there is no judicial discretion; you go to jail for 15—20 years. You could have simply been in the adjoining room of a house where the deal went down and still find yourself guilty.
Long story short, no one, including the Massachusetts Bar Association, thinks mandatory sentencing works, either as a deterrent or in helping people with drug problems. Not to mention that the prison population in Massachusetts is up by nearly 400 percent since the law went into effect.
Which brings me back to social media and Twitter. These are tools that we can use to accomplish things, to express our opinions, to start conversations, to have our voices heard, and to influence change.
To me, that’s the story the media should be telling. What we, as mere individuals, can do with social media when we gather a community, build support around a message or cause, and then spread the word, inspiring others to join us.
Here’s the Governor Deval Patrick’s Twitter handle. Care to join me in letting him know it’s time to change the law when it comes to mandatory sentencing and treat each case individually?