Wednesday was the two year anniversary of when I joined twitter.
Photo by Ansik
I intended to blog about it yesterday but got distracted by real life instead, enjoying an evening of chat, banter and Mary Poppins with @fergusbisset and @Mac1610 . So two years on I thought it was time for some self-reflection and a focus on what I’ve learnt about twitter and its impact on my life. These are my thoughts, they’re not rules and I’m not saying anyone else should take any notice of them, so please don’t take offence if you disagree – and better still let’s chat about it – you know the drill, please leave a comment.
1. I didn’t *get* twitter until I threw myself in and just got on with it. I watched and lurked for a while, I’d only met four people in real life @CliveAndrews @jonmoss @zerosandones and @tferriss, all at the Do Lectures earlier that month, I couldn’t keep on at them but I didn’t know anyone else. It took me a little while but I realised soon enough that you didn’t need to know someone to follow them – this wasn’t facebook, I wasn’t claiming to be their friend – it was just a case of hitting follow and saying hello if I was feeling brave or lurking if not.
2. Twitter is really just a microcosm of real life. There are as many people who are awesome, irritating, generous, vacuous, caring, bigoted, friendly, aloof, considerate, forward thinking, shallow and amusing on twitter as there are anywhere else in life. The real benefit of twitter is that you can pick and choose how much you interact with people who you disagree with or dislike….which is both a big benefit and a big risk if you ask me. You can sanitise your experience but for me that doesn’t resemble real life and is a dangerous strategy – as much as I hate the BNP I’d still rather read about them and know what they’re up to than just ignore them and pretend they don’t exist….the same goes for the tossers on twitter, we all need a little balance in our lives 😉
3. Broadcast is DULL – talk to people, engage with people and respond to people who try to engage with you. There is nothing more disheartening than people who don’t respond, I just don’t understand what the point is. People are interesting, some of my most surprisingly positive twitter conversations have been with corporate accounts – Dave on the @thetrainline account and the guys and gals (not sure which) at Manchester airport @manairport. I’ll not bother listing the people who I’ve stopped following because they seem to just like the sound of their own voices/tweets but there are quite a lot.
4. Please please please RT selectively. I understand that some people tweet more than others, so they are likely to retweet more than others, that’s grand. However, some people appear to have a ratio of retweet to tweet of about 10:1. At some level I have no problem with that, after all it’s up to you, but then I fundamentally question what value you have to add and again the list of people I’ve unfollowed due to them flooding my stream with RTs is quite long. Please guys, as in life, you’re way more interesting when you add an original contribution or thought or discussion – each and every person out there has something to offer and something new to bring to the conversation, so please take time to share your perspective not just to recycle someone else’s opinion.
5. Personally I prefer to know you…yes you. I have been told several times that people can’t believe how honest and open I am on twitter and in my blog. I love that compliment but I also find it odd….I can’t be arsed to be anything but me, there are some things I wont talk about because I don’t think it’s professional or fair, there are some things I don’t think are ‘mine’ to discuss, but on the whole I’ll be as honest and open on line as I will off line….which for those of you who have met me is fairly bluntly honest 😉 I also much prefer people who are true to themselves, so come on people be yourselves, it makes twitter (and life) way more interesting.
So that’s about it, I could go on but I’m not sure it’s really that interesting…but then see point 5 and point 2…this is me.
So what has changed as a result of twitter? Well everything and nothing. I guess the single greatest impact is that I have met people who I probably would not have met without twitter – or perhaps I would have met them but I would have been unlikely to have a way to keep in touch with them. On a personal and a professional level I have developed my networks, I have made new friends and acquaintances, I consider that I have a greater pool of people to ask for advice or support, I guess (at risk of sounding cheesy) I feel more connected. So I guess that’s a big fat success as far as I’m concerned.
Thanks to each and every one of you who has made the last two years such a blast. You’re all awesome. Tweet you soon.