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Skolny Organization Concludes Influential #GTIdeology Happy Hour Twitter Chat After 138 Weeks

Los Angeles, CA, July 20, 2017 --( For the first Thursday in nearly three years, Twitter was without Skolny Organization’s “#GTIdeology Happy Hour” on June 21. After 138 discussions, the company retired its influential weekly Twitter chat. “It was a hard decision, not one we made quickly or lightly,” Skolny Organization founder Vince Skolny said. “I said three years ago when we started the happy hour discussions that ultimately, it would run a course and when that time came, we would be willing to move on to the next thing. We felt it was simply time to do that.”

When asked about the chat’s influence, Skolny pointed to the proliferation of “question card graphics” in Twitter chats. “We created those,” he said. “I see a lot of echoes of our question structure, too,” he said. "Our first question was always framed as ‘In your opinion what is some general aspect of the topic?' I see a lot of those in my stream now. And a lot of agree or disagree style questions, which was our third question format each week, but the question card graphics are the biggest thing. Within the first month of happy hour chats, I found it was impossible to pose the sort of questions I needed to frame the complex discussions we wanted to have. Using a graphic solved that problem and, we all know that then tweets with graphics got measurably more interaction, so it had the secondary advantage of drawing in new participants.”

Asked why he thinks the graphic cards caught on, Skolny said that good ideas naturally spread until they become "the thing to do." “A couple of our regulars who hosted their own chats started using them and it spread from there,” he said. “Now they’re ubiquitous. I’m sure that early on some individuals recognized the inherent value of doing it, then another sort of person did it because someone they admired did it, and ultimately, it became the thing to do, though I doubt most people now know why they are doing it. That’s how influence leads to the dumbing down of ideas. It’s an unfortunate paradox.”

When asked what he was proudest of about the chat, Skolny said it was keeping a specific brand promise over 138 weeks. “Every week we promised that #GTIdeology Happy Hour would never become part of the social media echo chamber, one of the countless vapid and recursive Twitter chats that clog twitter streams. We encouraged thinking, not twipe, which was our term for twitter tripe. I don’t think that was influence so much, because most of the twitter chats are still vapid and recursive, but we certainly demonstrated that it is possible to engage a group of individuals in meaningful, in-depth discussions about complex, sometimes sensitive, or even volatile issues.”

Over the course of its 138 discussions, “the happy hour crowd,” as Skolny affectionately called it, discussed topics including nepotism, gender wage gaps, diversity, the place of political discussions at work, the value of politically correct corporate policies, and whether religion should be a protected class. “And we did not discuss them in the typical stilted or belligerent ways, either,” Skolny said. “People came open to sharing their views and really listening to others. It required a mutual trust that is frankly rare everywhere, let alone on social media.”

Skolny said those discussions were possible because of the genuine friendships among the chat’s participants. “There was definitely a certain sadness about ending it,” he said. “Community is a buzzword around Twitter chats and social media in general, but actual community, a sense of belonging, purpose, and ownership is rare. Most of them are like the River Platte, a mile wide and an inch deep. In the case of #GTIdeology Happy Hour, though, we were talking about ending something from which real friendships had been created and where they were developed and nurtured each week. The thing is, because they are real friendships, they will not end because the chat has. It is kind of like finishing college, our shared experience has ended but what that experience created has not. That is probably the most influential part of it all.”

Readers can follow @SkolnyOrg and @VinceSkolny on Twitter.
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