Much to my own astonishment I will soon have sent over 1000 tweets. In a the space of about 15 months I have dramatically expanded my twitter activity and reach. While the numbers are still modest in terms of the Twiterverse at large, for me the reality of over one hundred followers and just under 100 people I follow – is slow to sink in. Imagine meeting up with all of your followers in person at one time – what kind of space would you need? A classroom, small lecture hall, an auditorium, a high school stadium?
About 4 years ago when my tech-savvy teenage son was still living at home, I asked him, “What’s Twitter?” He chuckled and said it’s like “shouting random messages into cyberspace.” Then he added, “it’s pretty pointless.” That was good enough for me. It saved me from having to delve any further.
Once I joined Twitter in the summer of 2013 I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was not at all as pointless as my son had estimated. As an educator, I was thrilled to find the richness of the conversations in progress – on everything from #edreform to #SEL (social and emotional learning) to the #futureof school. And the more I read, greater became my own desire to contribute. I started by responding to a few blog posts, then writing more on my own blog. It became a cycle: catch a great link – retweet – write a blog response – tweet that – read more and so on.
Now nearing the 1000 tweet mark, I ask myself: What am I doing here?
When I started I was all about drinking it in: lurking, consuming, stockpiling. And now?
- I have made writing a priority. This post may become #93. The number of people who read what I’ve written varies tremendously but I do know this: Every time I post, at least one other person reads it besides me. And that is reason enough. Through followers of the blog and on Twitter, almost 200 people receive notice that I’ve put something out there. In the event of a powerful retweet, then the possible audience can grow into the thousands. But that’s not the point. Daring to write, to say what I want to say and to offer it to whoever’s game – that is the priority that matters.
- I pay attention to people and ideas. I feel strongly about some things: student-centered education, social justice, and every intersection of those themes. Most of the people I actively follow are generally tied to one or all of those themes. There may be others who offer perspectives slightly outside those distinct realms and add to my understanding of topics which influence my primary areas of interest, such as: tech industry happenings and political trends.
- I am here to connect the dots. The Twitterverse and internet are chock full of billions of disparate dots. From my little corner, I see but a miniscule fraction of those dots, by choice. At the same time, those dots within my view may produce unusual and beautiful patterns. My joy lies in drawing connections from people to ideas, and ideas to ideas. I’m a big fan of cross-pollination.
- The excellent people I meet and the wealth of their contributions are why I stay. About a month ago I conducted a sort of self-assessment of myself a s a coach and in that process I identified the type of people I appreciate and seek out as partners for collaboration. They “dare to diverge, show a degree of mental, emotional and physical fitness, have HUMOR, have a growth and change agenda, and demonstrate brave intentionality.” It may or may not surprise you, but I have met more people who fit this description within the last year than in the previous 10 years. Some I have met through social media and others locally. The key is that “what I appreciate appreciates” and in terms of remarkable acquaintances, this maxim has delivered handsomely.
Twitter is by no means single-handedly responsible for all this good stuff. Rather, Twitter has provided a easy-to-navigate platform where I can meet and interact with individuals and groups who add value to my learning and understanding. Now that I am even clearer about my purpose in populating and shaping my sliver of the Twitterverse, I can take even greater ownership of the role I want to play and how I can best serve the interests of these new connections I have welcomed into my life.
Special thanks for this post go to Dan Rockwell, Leadership Freak, who kindly asked me way back in August 2013 what I wanted to do with my social media engagement when I requested his sage advice for beginners.