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Do U Know How Many Followers I have?

“ Imagine everything you write will appear as a headline in USA Today with your name next to it.”

That’s what Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney tells fighters when it comes to interacting on Twitter and Facebook. It’s good advice that even seasoned media professionals sometimes forget.

Unfortunately, we live in a society where notoriety will get you rich and famous. Paris Hilton was just a spoiled socialite before a sex tape made her a pop culture icon. Elliot Spitzer was just a regular governor before he got busted with a hooker. Now, he’s got his own television show. There used to be a time when stripping for Penthouse would get your Miss America title stripped (see Vanessa Williams). Today, posing for Playboy is something women aspire to accomplish.

Why? Because any publicity is good publicity. And the more shocking, the better. Truth is, a little bit of notoriety is not so bad. It does get you noticed, especially in MMA, where promoters pay big money for great fighters who also know the value of stirring the pot (see Chael Sonnen).

But, it could also get you fired, depending on where you stand in the pecking order.

Just ask Miguel Torres and “King Mo” Lawal. They were both fired for using Twitter the way it’s supposed to be used—for expressing themselves. Unfortunately for them, the bosses at Zuffa were not amused by their respective expressions—Torres for repeating a rape joke he heard on a TV show, and Lawal for calling NSAC commissioner Pat Lundvall a “racist bitch.” Torres was hired back after making amends and apologizing. Lawal—at least as of this writing— hasn’t been so lucky.

Twitter can be an instrumental tool for promoting oneself. Guys like Pat Barry and Urijah Faber use it to great effect. Getting to know Brian “The Predator” Rogers through his humble everyman Tweets is a breath of fresh air, and seeing teammates push one another with supportive messages before fights is encouraging. However, as we’ve seen time and again, Tweeting too much can be seriously detrimental.

Rampage Jackson has Twitter meltdowns on a weekly basis, complaining about how UFC brass underpays and under-appreciates him. Never mind that he’s a multi-millionaire because of them. Phil Baroni tweets so many motivational clichés that I had to unfollow him because he took up too much of my timeline. Tito Ortiz retweets fanboy compliments so much that I have to sift through dozens of his messages before finding anything pertinent about his career. I unfollowed Frank Trigg, not so much because he’s a douchebag (I like Trigg) but because the news items on his timeline take me to a dummy page on his website where I have to click again to get to the actual article. He’s trolling me for visits to his site.

And just because you delete a stupid Tweet does not mean it wasn’t already screen-grabbed and turned into the top story on Bloody Elbow. Just ask Bryan Caraway, who is now better known for threatening to punch Ronda Rousey’s teeth down her throat than he was for being Miesha Tate’s boyfriend. I don’t know which is more emasculating?

Someone should write a Twitter app that lets you preview your Tweet before you actually publish it. This way, you can look at it the same way everybody else will see it and decide if it’s a good idea or not. It should also be your personal editor.

So, if you are Forrest Griffin and you write, “Rape is the new missionary,” you will be prompted “Seriously Forrest?” before it goes live. Or, if you’re Ben Askren and you write to a journalist, “I invite you to go in a cage with me. When you do that I will do your show. Otherwise, kiss my ass,” it would say “Just say, ‘Kiss my ass.’”

The bottom line is Twitter is not going to go anywhere. “Do you know how many Twitter followers I have” is the new “Do you know who I am?”

But think twice before you Tweet. Despite how brilliant we all think we are, sometimes that brilliance is better served staying in your brilliant head for you and only you. There was a plaque in my seventh grade classroom at St. Joseph’s in Toms River, NJ. It read: “It is better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”

Mike Straka is co-host of MMA Junkie Live on Spike TV and TapouT Radio on SiriusXM, and he is the UFC correspondent on Fight Now TV. His book Fighting Words: In Depth Interviews With The Biggest Names in Mixed Martial Arts is available everywhere books are sold.

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