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Twitter Interrupted

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Well, it looks like the Twitter party is over for UNC basketball players or rather it will be seriously curtailed. Via ACC Now:

About 5 p.m., rising sophomores Dexter Strickland and John Henson, plus rising junior Larry Drew II, all posted variations of the same message on their individual Twitter accounts: "well coach just talked to us about twitter and told us we offend some people n what not so this is a farewell to bein' myself..lata tweeps."

Strickland also added: "They told me I gotta watch wat I say..so I'm sry if any of my tweets offended anybody that follows me.."

Then Strickland and Henson later tweeted, "yeah these people be emailin coach n stuff smh....'self expression is a birthright and something you did PRIOR to hoopin...'"

The trio, who all have more than 4,000 followers apiece, are three of the most prolific tweeters on the team, commenting on everything from basketball to what they eat to what music and movie they enjoy -- all, usually, in shorthand-twitter-slang.

But some of the team's tweets this season have also gotten individuals into hot water.

Welcome to real life fellas. Let me first say that these are college kids and that means they are prone to say and do things responsible adults generally do not do without some form of alcohol being involved. That being said, they are also posting tweets for public consumption sans the warm cloak of anonymity that many of us who write on the internet enjoy. The complaint Drew and Henson in particular seem to be making is they are somehow being robbed of their right to free expression or "being themselves" via their Twitter account. While that might technically be the case, you probably ought to define what truly "being yourself" is or isn't. Most people are truly "themselves" then they are in the private company of friends and family. In such a context you make off-the-cuff remarks which might be considered offensive to people who do not know you very well. I imagine what the three UNC players in question are complaining about is the fact they are simply doing on Twitter what they would do sitting in the player's lounge in the Smith Center. However if you are in a room with your friends and everything you said was broadcast for thousands of people to hear, would you show restraint in what you say? If, suddenly one of the walls were removed to reveal a theater full of people watching you joke with your friends how loose would you be with your conversations then? The point is, we all wear different facades based on the situation we are in. Different settings carry different social taboos. The things I might say to my manager or co-workers is going to be different than what I might say to a close friend. What I might say to a close friend might be different if we are in a public place versus at my house. No one is simply himself or herself all the time. Social conventions demand we alter our behavior based on circumstances. Since Twitter is so open and the consumer of your tweets such a mixed group then it generally requires you turn the social taboo dial to the most conservative setting.

This point seems to be lost on the UNC players. Being starting basketball players for one of the most visible and successful college basketball program in the country comes with benefits but requires sacrifices. The ability to live a "normal student life" replete with tweeting whatever the heck you want pretty much went out the window. Does it suck for them that they cannot use something like Twitter to communicate with their friends? Sure but at the same time, Twitter accounts can be locked with you approving the followers. If these guys want to use Twitter and be "themselves" I suggest they come up with cryptic usernames, lock down their accounts and only approve followers they can confirm. Outside of that they are stuck abiding by what the coaching staff says. Whether they like it or not they are representatives of UNC and the program. They live in a glass house. Does it suck? Well that depends on how you look at it since I am fairly certain the benefits outweigh the hassle, especially if they end up making seven figures playing basketball.

On a side note, Kendall Marshall is apparently abandoning his social networking outlets upon graduations from high school. Marshall posted the following on Twitter yesterday:

Less than 48hrs till my facebook, twitter, and formspring are GONE! Graduation here I come

It is not clear whether this was his decision or if the UNC coaching staff insisted on it. I do know there has been a long tradition of UNC freshman having zero contact with the media until after their first game. This could be part of that or something Marshall decided to do on his own.

Exit question: Anyone want to hazard a guess on how Dean Smith would have dealt with players on Twitter?