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Editorial: The good and the bad of Twitter use

There are two stories in this edition of the Independent Town Pages about people making vastly different uses of the social network Twitter. And while we hesitate to say one is wrong and the other is right, we certainly know which one we prefer.

We’ll start with the one that has gotten the most attention in recent days. That would be Farmington Rep. Pat Garofalo, whose seemingly offhand comment suggesting the NBA is a haven for potential street criminals had a pretty vocal portion of the Internet branding him a racist.

We have no reason to believe Garofalo is a racist, but the tweet was certainly a sign of questionable judgment for someone who has been elected multiple times to represent the interests of Farmington residents.

Garofalo has a history of what we might call edgy messages on Twitter. His next tweet after the NBA mess was a joke about the quality of Sbarro pizza. It included a link to a story about the mall food court staple filing for bankruptcy a month after closing more than a quarter of its locations.

At least twice earlier in this legislative session Garofalo joked about putting on headphones to drown out speeches on the floor of the House. At least, we hope he was joking.

We’d never argue an elected official shouldn’t have a sense of humor, just that they should have a clearer picture of how it should be used.

The other example of Twitter use covered in this issue has gotten significantly less coverage. So far as we know, we’re the only news outlet to write about it. It certainly not caused an Internet frenzy, which is actually too bad. Because we think it’s pretty great.

The account in question is called @fhskindness_. It was started by a student who wanted to brighten her classmates’ day in the middle of one of this winter’s brutally cold days. So, she turned to Twitter and started sending out anonymous compliments.

The idea seems to have caught on. The account had 274 followers Tuesday night. Turns out, it makes people happy when someone says nice things about them.

It’s a good reminder that social networks can be used for much more than stirring up controversy. We’d like to see more of it.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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