So I’ve just passed my six-month anniversary on Twitter. Six months give or take, assuming you don’t count the two months I spent as a creeper marveling over the fact that anyone cared what Ashton Kutcher has to say about anything…or the grave American injustice that is standing in line at Starbucks waiting for a double-shot skinny tall frappe-mocha-choca-lata real lady marmaaa….oh wait. I digress.
In honor of our six-month anniversary, I decided it was a good time to reflect on the days, months, hours and tweets that took my love affair with Twitter from a simple curiosity to something more. Let’s take a journey back through time together…
Six Observations in Six Months on Twitter
1. You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat (or at least better technology): When it all began I was but a naive little neophyte, hopping on twitter.com to tweet now and again. With each passing tweetup (shameful, I know) I found myself gazing longingly at my companions smiling faces – lit by the dim blue glow of an iPhone – as they tweeted to others around the table instead of actually engaging in real life conversation. I wanted what they had.
Flash forward two months and I would find myself the proud owner of a new smartphone which might as well be docked in my right palm (Sorry mom / everyone), juggling Tweetdeck, HootSuite and Seesmic from the phone, from the laptop, from the desktop.
Then along came the day, not so long ago, a horrible, horrible thing happened… my laptop died. The horrible thing wasn’t the fact that the laptop died, rather the fact that I replaced it with a little white wonder with a light-up piece of fruit on the backside of the screen. It was the tweet heard round my world, going down in history as the day I sold my soul to Apple. I brought the package home in the with a mix of emotions. The mix gave way to full-on panic as soon as I opened the box. Where was the backspace key? Why did the delete key act like a backspace key? What the hell is a “magsafe”?
Oh dear god what had I done?
My people were divided. Half of them resented my conversion, shunning me in no uncertain terms. The Mac fans, however, rallied with love and support, gently talking me down from the ledge (and sparing me a prompt trip back to the Apple store to throw the Macbook at the disturbingly helpful and friendly sales guy as I demanded a computer with backspace key.) With just a little patience, I soon discovered along with a bright new world, my Macbook offers me a special sense of power each time I press the “COMMAND” key. I have become the dominatrix of my technology and it turns out the role suits me just fine. The apple does my evil bidding, I get to boss it around. Every so often we take a break to play with Garage Band. iLove.
2. #TheresAHashtagForThat … Don’t believe me? My recent favorite occurred at a wedding when one of the guests took a dance break to tweet during the Countour’s “Do You Love Me?” … his choice of hashtag? #ICanHashPotato. ….. #ISuspectOpenBarWasToBlame
3. They’re Watching You: My mom always used to say “Never put something in writing you wouldn’t want your grandmother to read.” And while I have written plenty I wouldn’t want my grandmother to read, there is merit to my mother’s conventional tidbit of wisdom. For better or worse, people are watching what you say. Sometimes even people you don’t expect. I learned this lesson the night I made a snarky comment about Hanson and was so harshly reprimanded by a member of the Hanson twitter fanclub I would have sworn the year was 1996.
While you may not be too concerned with your stock when it comes to modern mmmboppers, there are plenty of eyes on Twitter connected to minds, networks and opportunities you might actually like to have on your side. Use the better judgment the good Lord and your mama gave you. And for the love of God, don’t let your claim to fame become 345 tweets about Justin Bieber documented in the deep, dark bowels of the Library of Congress. I’m begging you.
4. It’s All in the Name: Your twitter handle becomes a version of your virtual calling card. Like it or not, it will follow you wherever you go. Everything you do or say online creates a fuller picture of who you are. Each little tidbit is a piece of the greater whole of your continually evolving online presence. While an unusual handle is memorable and makes for a great conversation starter – what seems like a good plan (or in my case, an anonymous cover) on day one, may not be the best choice when it comes time to shoot it off on a resume or slap it across your chest on a name tag at a conference. Unfortunately, by the time you figure this out, it’s too late. Catch-22. Kill the quirky and go with something more professional? Run the risk of having to start building your presence and persona from scratch. Keep the quirky? Be prepared to be known as “that NoMeatballs girl” when you take things offline and get IRL. (Then promptly demand that each person who refers to you as such is the lucky recipient of the “You’re Buying the Next Round to Make it Up to Me” award.)
5. I Am Not an Ornithologist: For the longest time I think my mom thought I had taken up bird watching. All the mention of tweets and hoots, she found it very baffling. Now she just finds it annoying, and I often hear her muttering under her breath about how she just “doesn’t get it” and asking me to explain what the “tweety” is all about.
The best way I have come up with to explain it to her is as such…
The last time I was in Vegas I wandered into a convention center. Perusing the list of conferences being held at the facility that day I couldn’t help but smile. In one room The Southwest Guild of Chocolate Artists would spend the afternoon creating chocolate masterpieces. In another room America’s finest daschund breeders tackled the trials and tribulations of raising hot dogs with legs. In yet another room, the National Pizzamakers Association was to discuss trends in toppings.
Though I am not a chocolate artist nor a daschund breeder nor a pizza maker by any stretch of the imagination, I was intrigued and inclined to crash each conference to pick up a few new nuggets of knowledge before returning to my regularly scheduled vacation.
Twitter is that convention center. It is full of every kind of conference you can imagine. The conferences are going on all day, every day. Everyone is invited. The conferences you choose to attend, the people you choose to interact with and the things you take away from the experience are all up to you. Whether you go for a deep sea dive in a bottomless ocean or stick to splashing around in a specific paddling pool – the information being shared and discussed and built upon and picked apart is endless. Whether you become an all-day conference attendee or crash in for five minutes – there is always something new to learn.
6: Everything We Need to Know We Learned in Kindergarten (mostly): Twitter is full of generous, smart, insightful people (and a few pain in the hineys) waiting to share and converse and engage and exchange.
Treat each day like the first day of kindergarten. Grab your lunch box, strap on your backpack and bravely forge into a bold new world of learning and connecting and creating and growing. Align yourself with a few of the “big kids” who can teach you the ropes. You’ll be amazed how generous and helpful they can be. Make friends with classmates who share your views. Trade sandwiches at lunch time and let the conversation roll. Challenge yourself by befriending people who share none of your views. Their thoughts and methodologies will either strengthen your conviction in your own or challenge you to break out of the familiar and evolve. Share in abundance – be it your crayons or thoughts, cookies or ideas. Welcome new kids who don’t have any friends. Be kind. Think before you speak. Be yourself. Whatever you do, don’t call yourself a “social media expert” or run the risk of getting beat up on the playground. Never forget, it’s not about the number of your friends, it’s about the quality of your friends. Be a yaysayer instead of a naysayer. Use your inside voice. Or better yet, your authentic one.
Thanks for a good six months, Twitter. Here’s to another six. Or 140.