In my last post I discussed why Twitter has been so important to me as an educator.  Before I started using it, though, I had a very different idea of what Twitter was all about.

Truth: I used to think Twitter was pretty dumb.  I'm an English teacher, you know, passionate about words and their craft.  I really didn't have too much confidence that the People of the Interwebs were communicating anything terrifically thoughtful in 140 characters.  And there aren't even that many pictures.  And I don't really care what celebrities are having for breakfast or whatever.

The list below is my attempt to woo you, because these are the things about Twitter that surprised me and pleasantly shattered my expectations:

  • 140 CHARACTERS IS PERFECT. In 140 characters, you can write a headline, paste a link, and add a hashtag or two.  As I'm scrolling through my feed of users I follow, I am seeing what they are finding and making, and the sites to which they are linking, with minimal commentary.  The sources speak for themselves, and I've basically customized my own news feed.
  • TWITTER HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH FRIENDS.  I used to think Twitter was Facebook's ugly cousin or something, but it's really not like Facebook at all.  Instead of keeping up with my real friends on Twitter (like one might do on Facbeook), I use it to follow other professionals and creatives whose work inspires mine.
  • FOLLOWER DOES NOT EQUAL FRIEND.  I follow hundreds of people whose work is excellent.  They do not necessarily follow me.  They are not my friends.  I have never met most of them.  They are not creeped out that I am following them.  I am not offended that they are not following me back.  It simply is not a two-way relationship at all, and it's totally fine.
  • IT'S OKAY TO OPEN TONS OF TABS.  I am exceptionally forgiving of myself with this.  When I'm scanning the headlines in my Twitter feed and clicking on links that look interesting, I end up with dozens of open tabs.  This does not cause me anxiety.  I can just read the pages.  Or save them for later.  Or get bored and close them.  There is no reason to panic.

In essence -- at least the way I use it -- Twitter is all about curating the feed of information you want to receive and creating the network you want to have.  While I'm aware it can certainly be used for adventures in human idiocy, I've found it to be extremely professional and informative.  

In my next post I'm going to explain how I got started and what my current Twitter usage looks like.  Maybe then you'll be wooed and you'll join me for #engchat next Monday!  

image and hand-lettering by Allison Lehman

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