I was late for Twitter. Seems I got held up along the social networking superhighway, somewhere in the vast, consuming expanses of Facebook, Pinterest and Spotify.
I was surprised, looking at my account, that I actually signed up in 2010. I’m both prone to and wary of faddishness, so it made sense for me to register and then disappear for three years. I finally figured Twitter didn’t seem to be going anywhere, so I should have a proper go.
Well. What an intriguing and addictive world it is. News and views. Like-minded, but disembodied, souls. Emergency kittens. The odd nutty, nasty troll.
It was such a curious thrill to see a little golden star, reply or a retweet early on. There were people out there! My very first direct message was spam but, geez, I felt connected.
And that is really proving the point for me as I get more and more into it. Since I’ve had kids, I’ve felt somewhat removed from the wider world. It’s been an insular and time-poor four-and-a-half years, caught up in the routine and sheer exhaustion of day-to-day with small children. Most of the people I hang around with are in that space too.
Twitter is giving me an opportunity to learn and engage again. About politics, about feminism, about social injustice – topics that increasingly matter more to me, largely because of my kids. Luckily, this is tempered with enough funny, clever commentary and conversation to keep me from weeping into my tea and toast every morning.
At first, I just observed, tentative about the environment and the etiquette. And, as a word-nerd Editor, not sure how the whole 140-character thing would work. But, as I’ve gained confidence – and discovered I CAN remain somewhat grammatical – I’ve been finding my voice among the chatter.
The biggest surprise has been discovering people who are on the same screen. (And people who are not, but that’s a whole other post.) I didn’t expect that there would be room to form relationships of sorts. Despite lacking the traditional ingredients of human interaction – body language, voice, facial expressions – it was obvious early on that people can connect on Twitter.
And now, eight months in, I’m doing the same. I’ve noticed the patterns of friendship-forming happening with the people I regularly tweet with. People who make me think and question; who are insanely clever; who are in similar life-stages to me; who make me belly-laugh out loud. People I feel a genuine affinity with. It’s not something I can easily explain to my non-tweeting friends, the idea that there is real value and meaning in these interactions.
Like anything, Twitter has its drawbacks: anonymous, vicious accounts; loads of rubbish to sift through; promoted, spammy tweets. I’m not saying it’s perfect.
But, right now, it suits me and where I’m at perfectly. I don’t see Twitter going away any time soon, and neither am I.