Sunday, January 22, 2012

The difference 140 characters of less can make

It was just a year ago that I was having a conversation with some friends about how I did not understand why people used Twitter.  I mean, everyone seems to be on Facebook so what possibly could Twitter do that Facebook doesn't and then more. Every once a while, someone would say something to me about trying it out but I just ignored them as Facebook was enough of a hassle to stay on top of...seriously, like there isn't enough information already out there about my friends and family on FB that I need to read every little thing they are doing tweeted to the world?
Then I start my Emerging Technologies course...the same one that started me on this journey of blogging. Our professor brought in different leaders from industry to speak with our class each week.  The most notable thing that I heard each and every one of them say was that they used Twitter and their recommendation that we should use it too if we were not already.  It took four to five of these discussions before I actually took action but finally I decided I was going to break down and check this out to see what all the hype was all about.  I spent a few hours reading different "Twitter 101" sites to understand the basics and then just dove right in.  I "followed" several news organizations that I would read every night using Pulse and found some tech users that several of my friends followed.  Each day, I would find more and more to follow and key hashtags to look for.  It took about a week before it finally dawned on me, but I realized I was no longer reading Pulse every night because all they key news stories I needed to know about, I was reading about on Twitter.  I also had become one of THEM...addicted to Twitter...I mean, one night when I could not connect, I was like - "WHAT?  How am I supposed to figure out what is going on in the world?"  I even went back to Pulse that night but it just was not the was too much information - how can anyone be expected to focus on more than 140 characters or less.
It is amazing how busy all our lives are and how much I have to read on any given day - emails, policy documents, technical articles, events of the day, and on and on...there is so much information that we need to consume on any given day and yet there is just not the time to do it. I could literally spend all day long doing nothing but read and based on the amount of time I spend in meetings, that is not going to happen. But I can run through 150 entries of 140 characters or less and actually have a great idea of what is going on in my world. If I want to read further, I can...if I want to save it for later, I can do that too.  That commercial about knowing when this or that happened "oh so 36 seconds ago..." or what have you...yeah, that has totally become me.  My husband cracks up every time he sees that commercial because he says I have become one of "those people."
It does not just make it easier to consume information, it has forced me to become a better writer.  I know, may not be evidenced by this blog where I am blathering on and on, but it is true.  In my work writing especially.  When you want to make a point and you only have 140 characters or less, you better be crafty with your words, especially if you want anyone to pay any attention to it at all.
Who would have ever though that Twitter would have made me a better communicator? I certainly would never have believed anyone who would have used that as a "selling point" but that is exactly what I do.  I tell people all the time about Twitter and why I recommend it to my friends.  None of this dawned on me until I caught myself doing just that - "selling" Twitter to my friends...telling them how I feel I am more in tune with current events, how it forces you to really learn how to communicate succinctly, and how, at this stage in my life, when there is just so much information (Like, so 47 seconds ago) that I feel I need to keep up with while not killing myself to do it (and go blind at the same time), I can accomplish all of that...with just 140 characters or less...