The Reluctant Twitterer

I like to think of myself as an early adopter. As a member of the last generation to suffer the miseries of erasing carbon copies on a typewriter, balancing a checkbook by hand, and lying awake half the night trying to remember the name of an actor or musician, I was quick to embrace technology.

The same was true of social media, at least at first. Almost right away, I got Facebook. It was a big loud party, where I could argue politics with my brother’s coworkers, exchange recipes with a friend in Tennessee, make dinner plans with neighbors, and get to know my niece’s new college boyfriend. I jumped right in, and although Facebook makes me crazy sometimes – especially in an election year – I am never far from its reach.

Twitter has proven to be more challenging. If Facebook was a party, Twitter was the hallway at my high school between classes: a place where things move fast, with little snippets of conversation flying everywhere.

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Some of it I didn’t understand at all. Some of it was interesting, and I might pause to listen for a moment, but it felt awkward to butt in. Some of it was happening between people way too cool to ever talk to me. Some of it scared me a little. I could almost hear locker doors slamming.

Language was another obstacle. I had to get past my resistance toward the word tweet, not to mention using follow as a noun. (For the record, I also refuse to order a venti at Starbucks: I’m in West Virginia, not Italy, and word we use here is large.)

So Twitter has been a slow start, an on-again-off-again effort. In three years, I’ve sent 202 tweets, approximately the same output as @beckyrbnsn on a typical afternoon.

At first I treated it almost exclusively as an information source. I followed people who were interesting to me – musicians, activists, comedians, state and local media people – and scrolled through my feed now and then when I thought of it, usually while I was waiting on a turn in Words With Friends. Once in a while I’d add something to the conversation, and even more rarely I might be retweeted or gain a few followers.

Even as such a casual user, I’ve come to have a few “aha!” moments about Twitter’s potential: Waiting out the results of an election. Trading notes and jokes during the opening ceremony of the Olympics, along with others watching on TV and some who were actually there (including a few of the athletes). Grieving the death of a little-known bluegrass musician. Learning about a woman in New York who works with a terrific nonprofit organization, one I’d like to write more about or work with some day.

In all these cases, Twitter allowed a little community to be forged – sometimes as part of a much larger group, sometimes as a transitory gathering of people with no other visible connection. And even though I may still feel a little self-conscious and unnatural out in that tenth-grade hallway, it’s a goal worth pursuing.

Filed As:  Twitter, Social Media

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What People Are Saying

  • I thinks thats where we all starts Becky. I didn’t join until last year, even though I am usually an early adopter as well. I have found it more an on-the-job learning style. I have stumbled into some great chats and met some awesome people.

    I am sure I still make some mistakes, but now I have a few good freineds who reach out, and vise versa. Perhaps I am in 11th grade; not cool myself, but I know a few of the cool people, and can reach put to some newer newbies.

  • Becky and Martina.This subject is close to home. I was reluctant to start with social media because of my vintage soul.I felt Twitter may be too high tech for me. But to my surprise there were several people who picked up on my newness and guided me along. Now I am getting quite comfortable. There are some wonderful people and chat rooms that are rewards for trying.

  • Donna, I can relate. I’m into tech stuff, and computer geekery, but it took a while to really “get into” twitter. Although I have to brag about Becky’s “31 Days” book, because that’s what really got me going on there. That, and just plain being out there. Making mistakes. Butting in to conversations, asking “dumb” questions, and not being afraid to talk to the cool kids 🙂

  • Loved this!! I am still somewhat resistant to Twitter myself (and using the word “tweet”). I’ve been struggling with the question of whether or not I should use my personal Twitter account for months. I guess I’m worried that it will encourage me to waste more time on the computer than I already do (which I consider too much).

  • I am SO with you on the Starbucks thing…I refuse to say…well…you know. I always say LARGE. That said, I cannot seem to get into twitter. It seems confusing and scattered to me. Not sure I will ever get the hang of it. Thx for your article!

  • I have felt the same way! I’ve downloaded the Twitter book y’all offered for free and am about to dig in! Wish me luck! 🙂

    • Good luck, Olivia, and please let me know how I can help!

  • Glad to know I am no the only slow starter on Twitter. I find it to be an incredible resource for interesting information to be found elsewhere, occasionally retweeting or commenting but not truly posting tweets of my own. What did I have to say that other would find enlightening or interesting. I see now that I was simply reduplicating my “freshman year in the hallways”! Thank you Becky, for a new perspective. I’m learning . I still don’t see myself tweeting so much as chirping, but I AM getting to know the hallway system better. I think Twitter is like my grandson’s highschool…1500 feet of hallway over three stories of daunting buy elegant architecture…maybe I’ll be able to find my way with the kindly assistance of you upperclassmen. In the meantime, due to my “success” with our business Facebook (Midland Care Findables Resale Store) I was handed @Findables with an expectant look. Ahhhhh well. Chirp I shall! And follow, follow, follow so I CAN Learn!

    • Nancy, I’m glad you enjoyed this post. Be sure to look for my Twitter Tips ebook and other resources to help you along. I’ll find and follow. 🙂

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