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23 Things: Twitter – Yes or No?

September 16, 2013

I hated Twitter for a long time. I thought it was yet another social media service full of people posting what they were eating for lunch, and talking about what they were buying. I though it was going to be a huge time-suck/time-waste.

Of course, I wasn’t actually using it. I’d picked up all these criticisms from other people (some of whom were using Twitter, and some of whom were just expounding on how it would destroy society).

But once I started using it, I figured out how wrong I was. I love Twitter. I love the freedom to sign on, browse my feed for a few minutes, find some interesting ideas, and then close it and do something else. I love the freedom to not read “everything,” and the variety of people I follow keeps my feed entertaining and educational.

My biggest worry in signing up for Twitter was whether I needed to have two accounts – one that was personal and one that was professional. I spent a long time researching other librarian Twitter accounts, and figuring out how other people approached this new social media. What I determined, was that most people seemed to mix the personal and the professional pretty freely on Twitter. And, interestingly, this mixing led to more interest in the person tweeting. If I know that a certain author I follow likes to eat cookies when she hasn’t met her writing deadline, she becomes a person in my mind, and I’m more interested in reading her tweets about writing, or about when her new books are coming out. Likewise, reading about the daily lives of other librarians makes the links they post more meaningful, because I understand a little bit about their background and interests. My PLN (Personal Learning Network) includes people who influence both my work and out-of-work lives, and it’s a balance I’m happy with.

I’ve also found myself using Twitter during large national events. When President Obama made his speech announcing that the United States had killed Osama Bin Laden, when the Boston Marathon bombings happened, and when the SWAT team closes down Sunset and Vine in Los Angeles, I’m on Twitter checking to see what other people are posting, and reading articles that are linked. I imagine it’s a similar impulse to turning on the news during a large event, but I like getting information from people in the area or who are posting additional information of interest (of course, up-to-the-minute tweets during large events can be inaccurate…I usually try to double and triple check information sources before passing anything on, and I always remember that eyewitness accounts can be twisted in interesting ways). But Twitter has provided another avenue of community for me, even if it’s around something more trivial, like what happened last night on Game of Thrones, or whether cronuts are really worth tasting, or what other people are thinking about doing after they get off work on a Friday afternoon.

My own Twitter feed is mostly retweets of interesting articles or tweets that I found entertaining. When I do post personal tweets, they’re often about something that happened at work or at home. I also have Twitter updated when I finish a book on Goodreads, and sometimes I’ll update from my running app on my phone.

I follow around 500 people (give or take…I freely unfollow whenever people post something offensive or a long string of things that aren’t interesting), but here are a few of the people I follow by category.

Feminist Writers and Activists

Soraya Chemaly – @schemaly

Shelby Knox – @ShelbyKnox

Professional Organizations

School Library Journal – @sljournal

ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom – @OIF

Librarians

Derrick – @geekandahalf

Heather Braum – @hbraum

Sarah Clark – @s_elaineclark

Buffy Hamilton – @buffyjhamilton

Runners

Keira Henninger – @KeiraHenninger

Jimmy Dean Freeman – @CoachJimmyDean

Authors

John Green – @realjohngreen

Justine Larbalestier – @Justinelavaworm

Veronica Roth – @Veronica Roth

Neil Gaiman – @NeilHimself

In short, Twitter has been a mostly positive influence in my life, and I’m glad that I was open to signing up for a new social media service. It’s definitely brought me more information from more diverse viewpoints, and has kept me connected to both local and global events.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 16, 2013 1:15 pm

    You articulated so well what is great about Twitter! It really can be used however one likes. I find myself going in spurts with it, and that is totally okay too.

    • September 16, 2013 1:49 pm

      Thanks! It’s really become a part of my life online. I don’t think I’d say it’s my favorite social network, but it’s definitely in the top 3.

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