Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The 5 Things I Like About Twitter

When I joined Twitter, last September, I did so reluctantly. Actually, I was told by the missus to do it, and being the obedient husband that I am, I complied unconditionally.

Or so the story goes. That's my story, your honour, and I'm not changing it!

Last September, Lori went to Taiwan for a couple of weeks, on business, and she figured that if we were connected through Twitter, we could contact each other quickly; faster, she thought, than through e-mail. Cheaper, she thought, than a text message from the other side of the planet.

It was a great idea. Only, Lori never Tweeted, except for when she was at a Starbucks or at the various airports, using the free WiFi wherever she found it, which only happened at the beginning and end of her trip, and only once or twice while she was in Taipei. I was duped, I thought: in the two weeks that Lori was away, I tweeted far more times than she did; being more of a socially networked kind of person, I reached out far more than she did. In the two weeks that Lori was away, she may have tweeted five or six times. Her only connections were her brother, my sister, our neighbour, and a few CBC peeps.

When Lori returned to Canada, she stopped using Twitter. She didn't tweet again until six months later, on her second trip to Taiwan, and even then she only tweeted two or three times. Since September, I can count the number of times that Lori has used Twitter on both hands, and still have a couple of fingers free to tweet.

But that's okay. I don't mind. It's not like I'm going to tweet her. We talk all the time. We use the phone, e-mail, texting, and good ol' facetime. We have no problem communicating.

Meanwhile, I'm addicted to Twitter. I use it all the time. If I have a computer running, Twitter is running in the background. If I'm mobile, I have my iPod and (now) my iPhone (actually, I've passed my iPod on to S, who is happy to run down the battery by playing Angry Birds or Plants vs. Zombies). With my iPhone, I'm always connected.

Being a social person by nature, it's only natural that I would fall in love with Twitter. I've already stated on several occasions that I suffer from FMS syndrome—the Fear of Missing Something. But here are a couple of reasons why I find it hard to tear myself away from Twitter:

I meet interesting people—Since I began blogging, I've been following other bloggers, and because I was interested in their blogs, be they informative, examples of good writing or photography, or just plain entertaining, it was only natural that I start following these bloggers on Twitter. Reading the blogs has been great, but it's Twitter that makes me feel connected to these fellow writers; especially those who have followed me back.

I get instant news in my community—I follow a lot of Ottawa peeps because I find that there's no faster way to get the news that matters to me. Through Twitter, I first learned that there was an outdoor water ban in my neighbourhood. I learn where traffic is snarled, through accident or otherwise. I know if there's a fire in my neighbourhood or along my route to work. I first heard about the explosion at our neighbourhood high school through Twitter. I get up-to-date weather notices. I know about festivals and other special events. Twitter keeps me informed much more quickly than any other news source. And being such a news hound, this reason alone keeps me on Twitter.

I get entertained—There are lots of people on Twitter that tweet humourous one-liners. Twitter is the cheapest comedy club. There are a handful of such peeps that I follow. They provide a quick laugh that doesn't distract me any more during my work day than, say, a colleague that arrives at my desk, when I'm busy, just to see how I'm doing or to engage in idle chat. I would say that these peeps take far less of my attention, because I read the 140 characters (or less), laugh, and then move on. On a stressful work day, these kinds of peeps are the best because they don't put any demands on me and remind me that life is to enjoy.

I feel like I'm in a room with the world—I've already said that I'm a social person. I like to get out there and meet people, to mingle. And through Twitter, I feel as though I'm at a big party, and virtually everyone is there (true, only those on Twitter are there). But because some of my real friends are there, I feel that I can stand there and listen in on a conversation, overhearing tidbits of dialogue, or join in and give my two cents to whoever wants to listen. Through Twitter, I've had exchanges with people in my community and from around the world. I have spoken to people no more or no less known than I am, and I have also spoken to celebrities and politicians, and they have responded. Among some famous people that I have engaged in Twitter exchanges are Ian Rankin (@beathhigh), Kate Kelton (@katekelton), and John Cleese (@JohnCleese). I have tweeted my city's mayor (@JimWatsonOttawa) and he has always responded. I have asked my local CBC weatherman questions (@BlacksWeather) and he has always answered; I've sent him pictures I've taken and he has used them on television. My sister, who is a huge Twitterbug (@msjconnolly), and I have chatted more frequently in the last 10 months than we have in the last 10 years (she lives in another city, so we don't get together often). It's been great.

I feel free to "speak" my mind—If you know me or have spent any time reading my blog posts, you'll already know that I speak my mind. But what you may not know is that when I write my posts, there are governors. I write, I pause, and then I read. And sometimes I edit, clean things up, take things out. Sometimes, I look at what I've written and say to myself, "Yeah, maybe I shouldn't say that." On Twitter, I tend to tweet exactly what's on my mind at the time. I don't sit on it. Sure, there are some tweets that I type and then schedule for a post at a later time, but those kind of tweets are the announcements of a blog post or a promotion for my book. There may be three to five of these tweets a day that I prepare at once. The rest is just me diving in. No governor. Whether that's good or bad, I have yet to learn. But I love the spontaneity of Twitter. I love tweeting my mind.

So there you have it: my top five reasons why I love Twitter. If you're on Twitter and don't yet follow me, please do. I tend to follow back (as long as you're not a spammer or lurker, or you don't try to sell anything). If you aren't using Twitter, give it a try. But be warned: you may become hooked, like me.

1 comment:

  1. These are pretty much all the reasons I've started using Twitter too! I've come across so many bloggers I wouldn't have known about otherwise.