According to polls I have seen, about one in five (20%) of all American adults are on Twitter. I am one of those people. I want to share my experience now that I have been on it for nearly two years.
I suspect that the 80% view Twitter as this place where narcissistic people got to tell the world what they had for lunch, who they saw and what they are thinking. In 140 characters people could tell others “look at me and how interesting I am”. I can remember reading about “celebrities” tweeting about what they had for lunch. Who cares? While that may be true, I am here to tell you that my experience has been very different
I initially got on Twitter to see what it was all about. My students talked about it a lot. I wanted to see what the draw was. It quickly changed into a totally different experience for me.
Twitter has become transforming for my existence. I spend at least 1-2 hours a day on Twitter. But almost none of that is me telling others about me. And 99% of the tweets I look at are not someone telling me about themselves. What I get from Twitter is the news I want to know about and links to interesting things people are writing or saying. Virtually the only things I look at are links to stories that I believe might be interesting. So the 140 character piece of Twitter for me is a series of links to articles that I will learn from, be amazed by or laugh at. That is the positive power of the Internet.
So what do I “learn” from Twitter?
I use Twitter for news. The Associated Press (AP) has a Twitter feed that provides links to many articles every day. If you want to find out about the news in the world, this is a great place to go. The 140 characters provide a brief intro to the article and a link. If the brief intro sounds like something I want to read about, I click the link. Otherwise, move on to the next tweet. I follow some really interesting opinion and research polls. Pew Research does some truly interesting analysis of trends in the world. Again, I read the short intro, decide if I want to learn more and move on. I feel like I am much better informed to day that I was even a couple years ago.
I use Twitter for sports. Following ESPN, Sports Illustrated, NBC Sports and others keeps me up to date on all kinds of features and news about sports. I used to go to ESPN.com as my initial place for sports news. Now the links are my primary source of information from a number of different sources.
I use Twitter for running and fitness. Those subjects are obviously passions of mine. So I follow a number of organizations that write about running. I also follow a few very interesting runners who provide all kinds of interesting perspectives. I also look at brief introductions and links to articles and videos on fitness, stretching, weight training, etc. (In fact, this is how I got the yoga video I am using to meet one of my 2014 Resolutions).
I use Twitter for following interesting people. As I progressed in using Twitter I found people who wrote about interesting subjects (education and history for instance). So I began to follow them, opening up a world of information that was available but unknown to me.
Twitter also allows me another avenue to stay in touch with my kids about our mutual interests. So when one of us sees something interesting, we pass it on. Occasionally we will “converse” about a subject. It is fun.
Yes, I am a Twitter convert. But I suspect I am using it a different way than most people would assume. But that’s just me! If you ever join, let me know.