If you aren't already, please follow me on Twitter!
* * *
I joined Twitter almost two years ago. I remember exactly where I was too. In an Etap hotel just outside of Marseilles. I was introduced to it by @arincrumley, one of the creators of Four Eyed Monsters. That was the same day I started my blog. But at that point, it was so slow and painful to twitter from a Blackberry, I didn't bother.
Since then, I've been so busy with moving, traveling and the like, that it only barely hit my radar. I figured when I was more settled and finally thought of good use for Twitter, I'd wait to get involved. Then I started receiving notices that people were following me on Twitter.
"Following what?" I wondered. Still more followed, and finally, my curiosity got the best of me. I logged onto my account.
That was about ten days ago, and now I am hooked. So what good is twitter? I'll tell you!
1. Work and Personal Benefits
It's like a huge online cocktail party with tens of thousands of people chatting 24 hours a day. You are always connected to people with similar interests, both work and personal, all over the world. I'm in touch with others interested in yoga, gardening, sustainable development, art and teaching.
So far I have learned endless amounts about the technical side of building a better blog, how to use Twitter, Wordpress and how to work public relations and social media outlets. Thanks @DaivRawks. This man, Daiv Russell-Ninja Nerd has almost 20K followers and somehow manages to keep up with them all. He offers sound advice on anything technical. I sent him a question once and was amazed to see his response within a few minutes.
@skydiver, by the way, is Peter Shankman, founder of Help A Reporter. If you are a writer of any type, business owner, website analyst, really anything, you need to check out his site. I'd also like to mention that I met him twice. First, at the 1996 Democratic convention in Chicago. The second time, I was struggling to carry my child and her stroller down the subway stairs at the Columbus Circle station in NYC just before we left to travel. He stopped to ask if I needed help.
I met Julie through the Twitter posts of @umarket of Uncornered Market fame. Their website follows their absolutely amazing travels through tens of countries. Their thoughtful articles and striking imagery make you want to visit. If you can't, though, you have this sneaking feeling that you've been with them through China, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Latvia and so many other places I simply cannot list them here.
There's also @ARoadRetraveled. @tripwolf. @travelojos. I've chatted and compared travel notes with all these people. In addition, each has a website where you can learn more about their experiences traveling and perhaps one day, I will write for some of them or they will guest blog for me.
Sometimes, you find inspiration. @kendrathornbury, for example, is a Life Coach, Spiritual Guide, Manifest Mastermind Guide, Law of Attraction Guru, SpiritAlive Creator, Joyous Being, Free Spirit, Humanitarian, Alive Enthusiast (as her profile says). Each day, she posts wonderful statements about how to move yourself more freely through life and reach your goals.
"When you are aware and awake in the moment, you have the leverage to create whatever you want. U are not a slave to circumstances," she posted last night. And there is such a lovely picture of her smiling on the beach on her website.
I've met other parents. @fogandthistle Another NYC mom. She has a blog and Etsy shop where she sells original papercut designs. I plan to buy one of her gorgeous nightlights. Lila has been asking for one for quite a while and her room here in Salta is so unbelievably dark at night.
And finally, it's a great source of news. I'm following all sorts of news outlets such as @nytimes, @suntimes, @guardiannews. And BOOM, all headlines with links are sent directly to me.
"But why do I need all this information?" I'm sure many of you are still asking yourselves. I've already seen more visitors to my blog. And, well, I guess I may as well tell you. I have a new project brewing. It involves an expansion of the What Lila Sees section of this website. I'm aiming to launch in June.
There are other less obvious benefits to Twitter as well.
1. Improved Memory
Imagine. You are following the information threads of anywhere from 10 to 10,000 people. It's a constant stream of information. Then one day, you see a reply from someone line @CouchsurfingOri saying "Could've been that stalker! :)"
What? I had no idea what he meant. Was that message intended for someone else? I had to think back to all my interactions with him and all the things I posted in the past day or so. Then I got it! I posted something about that horrible yowling outside our casita last night. "What the hell was it?" I wondered.
2. Teaches Patience
You can't ask everything at once. And when you do make contact with some, you can't just blurt out right from the beginning: "I have the great idea. You really should help me." No, you have to start chatting, understand who the person is, what they do. You have to get to know them as you would in real life, but on Twitter, you rarely receive the immediate response you would at a real cocktail party. You have to wait for your answer.
3. Encourages Positive Thinking
There is a real culture of Pay It Forward. I've noticed the things that attract the most interest, tend to benefit as many people as possible. @twitchhiker, for example. He's a reporter for the Guardian who intends to travel for a month soley with the help of Twitter tips. All money he raises goes to charity.
People credit each other for posting solid articles and thoughts by this funny little thing called retweeting. By retweeting, you also help yourself. The person you credit is thankful and passes along your name. The people who appreciate what you've passed along thank you as well.
And since this is a site so often used for marketing, almost everyone I've encountered presents a positive, helpful face. You have to be open to people and you never know from where a good idea will arise, so most people are willing to have conversations and help. In ten days, I have yet to see anyone be anything but decent and constructive. A far cry from You Be Mom, where people remain anonymous and tend to tear each other apart.
4. It Is the DOS Version of the Future
Best yet! Twitter is it's own world with it's own rules. In it, you open yourself to a constant stream of information from so many disparate sources. It's absolutely dizzying. Hot dang if I don't feel like Johnny Mnemonic, only the yakuza aren't chasing me and presumedly my head won't explode if I don't find the key to the data stored in my head.
One day, I'm betting we'll receive this feed directly into our brains. There, we'll meet our Twitterverse Tweeples wearing brilliant 3D avatars lounging on sumptuous digital couches and sipping martinis while sorting through the latest information about some big business mogul releasing a horde of insects into a crowd or accept a request to speak to a classroom of children in the South of France or Guam. I imagine my eyelids will be quickly fluttering as I receive the information.
Yeah, Twitter. I drank the Kool Aid. I'm a true believer now.