By Tim Hayes

“you hafta tweet dad!!!”

So read the message from one of my kids after I had, at long last, opened by own Twitter account (@TimHayes82) yet had only posted one message in two weeks.

Maybe it’s me.  Maybe I’m turning into the Fred Mertz of my circle of friends.  The old fuddy-duddy who doesn’t understand or sympathize with the round-the-clock urge to share every thought, act, and impulse electronically with hundreds of people at a time.

Or maybe I’m the smart one.  Twitter is, and has always been, a very sharp two-edged sword.  What Twitter giveth, Twitter can also taketh away.  And for a number of famous people lately, that’s been quite the bitter-Twitter pill to swallow.

Take Oprah Winfrey, for example.  After walking away after 25 years as the queen of daytime television and a multi-billionaire in her own right, she launched the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).  Only one problem with that plan, though.  When it came to viewers, nobody wanted to own OWN.  So naturally, Oprah turned to Twitter.  During the broadcast of the Super Bowl, she tweeted, “Every 1 who can please turn to OWN especially if you have a Nielsen box.”

Uh-oh, Oprah.  Naughty tweet.  Seems the Nielsen Company, who provides ratings for TV shows, requires those shows to sign agreements to never openly solicit Nielsen households, and has hinted that it may withhold ratings for OWN in light of Oprah’s online faux pas.  Worse, Oprah’s golden reputation has taken some dinks, with other tweeters calling her “unethical” and “desperate.”

Then there’s Roland Martin, former on-air personality at CNN, for this Twitter train wreck, in response to a risqué commercial: “If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him!”  Roland’s the one who got smacked – smacked right out of his job, in fact, as the pushback from the gay community reached tsunami proportions.  Maybe it’s something about the Super Bowl that brings out the twits on Twitter?

Or maybe it’s just sports in general.  Here’s what the general manager of the New York Mets, Sandy Alderson, tweeted en route to spring training a couple of days ago: “Will have to drive carefully on trip; Mets only reimburse for gas at a downhill rate. Will try to coast all the way to FL.”  Psst, hey Sandy, news flash – these are the people who pay your salary.  Might want to keep that in mind as you’re trashing them to thousands of strangers around the world.  Just a thought.

And lastly, there’s my hometown’s favorite wide receiver, Hines Ward of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Here’s a man who has amassed a Hall of Fame career, who was named the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl (there it is again!) XL, who is one of only eight players in the history of the National Football League with 1,000 catches, who serves the community through many charitable groups and activities, whose smile lights up the field and whose hits rattle opponents – and if all that weren’t enough, he also won “Dancing with the Stars.”

But Hines’ career as a Steeler may be coming to a close.  While he isn’t about to go without a fight, he made the mistake of taking that fight public with this Facebook post: “I want to finish my career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. And as I’ve already told the organization, I am willing to work with them to restructure my contract to make sure this happens.”

As a local sports columnist noted, after Hines’ message went live, “There is nothing wrong with sharing those thoughts with management…but to do it publicly? It’s just so unseemly.  It makes Ward look as if he’s begging for a job.  That’s sad.”

You know, maybe being an old fuddy-duddy about social media ain’t so dumb after all.  Kids, I guess your old Dad still isn’t cool and may not be tweeting today.  Again.

Copyright 2012 Transverse Park Productions, LLC