Ideology of Openness

In their article “Overcoming the ‘Ideology of Openness’”, Gibbs, Rozaidi, and Eisenberg critique the idea that “open communication is an unmitigated good.” They believe that open knowledge is not always desirable, especially when it comes to face-threatening and task-related information. I think it’s important to look at this idea in my study of social media connections. The interests and goals of companies and consumers are different. Therefore the “openness” of Twitter may be more desirable for one than the other.

Gibbs et al speak of tensions in their article. These tensions can be understood as between consumers and companies. The engagement-disengagement tension speaks to the expectations of companies to monitor and respond to Twitter on a consistent basis. Consumers may value the ability to get help or express their concerns whenever they occur (as opposed to during office or telephone hours) but companies may value control over how their time is allotted and their time off the clock.

Along with making companies reachable 24/7, Twitter has made it so that both a company’s achievements and mistakes are broadcast by consumers to thousands of others on a daily basis. This relates to the sharing-control tension. While consumers may value the ability to quickly share negative feedback about their experiences, the targeted companies would likely prefer to keep that information confidential.

I have to agree with Gibbs et al. The openness of Twitter is not a bad thing. Gibbs et al say openness affords employees to foster relationships and achieve solutions. This is true of companies with consumers too. It allows companies to connect with consumers on a level not possible before and gives companies the opportunity to attend more quickly to concerns. Openness also affords consumers more power through visibility of their words. However, we cannot think of openness as unquestionably good either, especially from companies’ end. They’ve lost a good amount of control over their privacy and time management.

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