For the past several weeks, I have been contemplating Twitter, and my relationship with it. I suppose I could rattle off a buku of reasons for why I am feeling this way. But, between you, me and a goal post, I think my lack of love for Twitter these days comes down to two basic things. The first is that Twitter has become much too loud and noisy for my taste. It could be the introvert in me. But, much too loud and noisy, nevertheless. Which makes me tired, weary, cranky, and wondering if Twitter is something from which I wanted to separate. Then, I remembered my PLN – Personal Learning Network – the connections I have forged since I joined back in 2008, and, the Twitter chats. Is the sensory reaction I am feeling worth kicking to the curb my PLN and the Twitter chats that I like and enjoy? Which forced me to turn the question inward: Is there something about me that is causing me to feel the way I am feeling about Twitter? Am I doing something wrong? Perhaps I really don’t understand Twitter, despite having been on the social networking platform for eight years.
So, to answer my question, I performed an Internet search, which led me to this candid, eloquent and insightful blog post about Twitter. And, the answer, just as the author promised, did, in fact, surprise me.
Twitter, as we know, is a social networking platform. For working professionals like me, the emphasis is more on networking, rather than social – at least at first. At least, perhaps, until one meets a Twitter follower at a conference, or, for coffee, as I did, many years ago. We currently follow each other on Twitter, but, the connection actually began via the blog I was writing at the time. We had a connection forged through the independent school community – she the parent of a daughter attending an independent school, and I a teacher. At that time, her daughter was about to begin college about one hour away from where I reside, and so the opportunity to meet presented itself. It was fun! But, I digress…
Admittedly, I don’t fully grasp the whole networking concept as it plays itself out in professional relationships. Which explains in large part my mis-read of Twitter, per the linked blog post. Unlike Facebook, where, at least in my case, many of my “friends” are actually people I know in real life, I don’t know any of those I follow and who follow me on Twitter on a personal level, and have not met them in real life, except for the person mentioned above.
So… what made me actually believe that those I follow and who follow me are actually interested in socializing with me on Twitter, i.e. having conversations, to the extent one can on Twitter? Beyond sharing resources and an occasional opinion about teaching, which is what connects me to the vast majority of those I follow and who follow me, what did I actually expect to converse about?
Call it naïveté, but, I did actually, expect those things. I did actually expect greater social interaction, and conversation about everyday things – just like in real life. I thought it was an abbreviated form of Facebook. How wrong I was, and, my first mistake.
The second mistake I made was using Twitter as a platform, a microphone, for my views. Which, quite frankly, most of my followers, I suspect, aren’t really interested in. Besides, I have my blog for that.
My third Twitter mistake was tweeting much too much. And, that noise I spoke about earlier? I was contributing to a great deal of it, and I was not cognizant of it until I read the linked article.
Now that I have a better understanding of Twitter – what it is, and, more importantly, what is is not – I can use my time more productively when on there, not take whole thing so seriously, and have more reasonable expectations. I learn a great deal from all of my followers, and I value them and the resources and information they share. Through them, I have gained tremendous insights about the world around me. In most cases, Twitter is better than the evening news in terms of late-breaking events.
What mistakes have you made on Twitter, or, on other social networking sites? What, if anything, did you do about it?