Common-sense applications


POSTED: Monday, August 24, 2009

A lot of tweets are by twits, that is certainly true.

Every now and then Twitter proves itself of societal value, shining the light on something of universal import like riots for democracy in Iran or Perez Hilton alerting police he's been beaten up by the Black Eyed Peas front man. But it is generally the domain of the self-absorbed—for some reason, even more than the equally ego-driven but strangely utilitarian Facebook.

Maybe it has something to do with the 140-character limit, making Twitter, in many cases, haiku for half-wits.

I do not put my favorite tweet in that category. It was brilliant, and it came from @CoachJuneJones following a perfectly executed government execution of pirates: “;note to self: Navy SEALS are awesome!!”;

I am equally repulsed and allured by the whole thing. You see, I don't need to know that your middle child spits up carrots, but do find it highly amusing that in the process of sharing that priceless nugget with your loyal followers you earned yourself a ticket for tweeting while driving.

That doesn't apply, however, to John Estes. And I say that only partly because the University of Hawaii center could easily chase me down and flatten me into the three zillionth pancake of his esteemed Warriors career.

Over the past four years, I've asked Estes quite a few questions—about football, about his family, about school. My first query of his senior season?

“;How's your tweeting?”;

@johnestes55 responded in typical @johnestes55 fashion: thoughtful, but rather mundane.

“;You have to use some common sense. Don't say anything detrimental. Don't mention injuries, new plays. It'll pretty much be about my mood, the mood of the team, our morale.”;

He's not going to call anyone out, opponents or teammates. He's not going to make political or religious statements, he's not going to swear.

Don't expect @OGOchoCinco or @THE_REAL_SHAQ style flamboyance.

“;I'm not doing it based on myself. It'll be about the team.”;

And that's what makes Estes the perfect lab rat as UH football's first official Twitterer.

He has always been one of those just-the-facts guys with reporters—because he's smart. I know he has a sense of humor, but he also understands context, and how easy it is to be quoted out of it, even by well-meaning ink-stained wretches.

Also, he realizes everything he does and says publicly is part of an extended job interview for the NFL. One ill-advised tweet in anger could cost him any number of spots in next spring's draft. Scouts watch social media sites nearly as much as game tape these days.

For a guy who wants to be an NFL center, blah-ging is the way to go. He's got too much at stake.

Also, sorry if you were expecting live reports from UH's second-year team captain.

“;During games? I don't know, I don't think that's such a good idea,”; Estes said. “;You've got to focus on the game. It ticks me off when guys on the sidelines are looking off into the stands, I don't think we should have phones out there.”;

Of course, Estes isn't the only cyber savvy Warrior. Blaze Soares has 359 Facebook friends.

“;Everybody wants to see how I'm doing. People are concerned with my health,”; the oft-injured linebacker said.

Defensive tackle Rocky Savaiigaea has 798 amigos and uses his phone to read and post updates often. He is also careful what he puts out for public consumption.

“;My biggest thing is be true to myself. A lot of people put up dumb pictures, and they're saying f-this, f-that. I'm not judging them, but you have to be careful because people will judge you.”;

Running back Inoke Funaki eliminates any possibility of that the easiest way of all; he does not participate in any social media. Years ago, while his peers were signing up for MySpace, Funaki was trying to sign up new LDS church members in the Dominican Republic.

“;All I use the computer for is research or writing papers,”; the 26-year-old senior said. Then he shows me an old phone with more dents than Brashton Satele's helmet. “;This is the only cell phone I've ever had. My mom gave it to me when I came back from my mission five years ago. I didn't want one, but the coaches told me I needed it.”;

It's about what you'd expect from a guy who has roller-skated to practice and worn 1970s style athletic socks. Too bad. The clever and concise Funaki could be a star among the Twitterati.

Then there's Savaiigaea, who steadily consumes byte-sized chunks of cyberspace on a daily basis.

“;I wouldn't say I'm a technology geek,”; he said. “;But me and technology are homies.”;