Twitter Has Changed my Life

by francine Hardaway on March 24, 2008


Time to write about Twitter, which has changed my life. Robert Scoble has written a sophisticated post about how he uses Twitter today, but he’s writing to people who already use it, and I’m writing to people who may never have heard of it. The image on the left is of Twitterific, the way I view Twitter when I am logged in as Earth911, giving out environmental tips for recycling and product stewardship. It’s in a space on my desktop (I have a Mac, so I have Spaces), and I look at it every few hours to answer people back, or to post something.

In Twhirl, another Twitter “client,” (which means it sits on my desktop and I don’t have to go to Twitter’s website to look at my tweets. Here I am logged in as @hardaway, which is the “real” me, if you think there’s any such thing as reality. But here’s where I follow the most people and spend the most time. Why do I do it?

Because Twitter has allowed me to meet and converse with people all over the world, without much of a commitment. The tweets come in as a stream, and if I see something engaging, I answer it. If not, I don’t.

Twitter allows me to share my knowledge. I’ve been on this planet 66 years, and I hope I have learned something. Every once in a while someone tweets “I’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer,” and I can refer them to @susanreynolds, who is a breast cancer survivor with a blog, or to the women’s health portal called Empowher, which has a wealth of information. I can also offer my wisdom about movies, or hotels in Phoenix.

Twitter allows me to have fun. Some people on Twitter love dogs, and we have a commonality of interest. I look st their dog pictures, and they read my Buppy blog.
I can also participate in group games, like Color Wars, with people who have the spirit of play while they spend the day sitting at a computer.

I can help raise money for charity.

But most important, Twitter is a way to glimpse our common humanity: how people tweeting from Australia, or the Phillipines, or Beijing, or Paris are doing the same kinds of things I am, worrying about things, taking their kids to the bus, or brushing off insults after public performances. They may be reporters, cameramen, stay at home moms, cancer patients, political junkies — they are a piece of me, and I am a piece of them. Twitter makes manifest something I have believed for a long, long time. We are all interconnected. Only now we can see it.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Clintus McGintus March 24, 2008 at 1:21 pm

Twitter is a piece of my life now. I get it on my phone so I’m never disconnected. I love it.

Jennifer Sardam March 25, 2008 at 3:38 am

I love this post! I too have always felt that sense of interconnectedness in the world, and I revel at reading other people’s joys, or doing a search to see who’s reading what I’m reading at the same time. It’s a quirky, interesting slice of society around the world. Some people don’t “get” it. But I think, when seen in this way, it can be fascinating. I even often learn about local events, because I added many people from around my city to those I “follow.” Plus, it’s a good way to point people to what I’m writing about on my blog.

Once I even posted that I was getting a new Dell and had to go buy Windows Vista 64-bit, and a Microsoft worker offered to sell me one for over 100 bucks less! So you never know where serendipity will strike. Ditto to that.

Have you heard of the mash-up Tweetspeak? I just discovered it yesterday, and you may find it interesting since you speak of commonalities of interest.

Janette Toral April 4, 2008 at 5:15 pm

I agree with you! Twitter has also served as a means to discover great reads online. Like this post, one of the friends I follow shared this. Cheers to you!

francine hardaway April 4, 2008 at 6:44 pm

Thanks, Jennifer. I just keep meeting such good people on Twitter.

Susan Kitchens April 7, 2008 at 10:56 am

I’ve watched the Twitter phenom blossom (esp since SXSW a year ago) and I’ve avoided it because of I’m scared of YAIBTS — Yet Another Internet-based Time Sink. Or how my alleged attention will become even more continuous and be broken into even smaller partial parts.

Given your experience (and your writing for the non-twitterers out there), I’d like to hear you weigh the upsides with (possible) downsides of distraction.

francine hardaway April 7, 2008 at 11:20 am

It’s so much a question of what your goals are. Mine are, in order of importance: 1)Make new friends outside Arizona, especially in the Bay Area, so I can eventually move there, 2)Get emotional support since I live alone 3) Share some of the wisdom I’ve gathered over the years that my own children don’t need 4)Teach myself new things 5) See which of the startups I’m working with can use social media effectively for marketing.

You can see that for me, Twitter isn’t a time sink, but an important emotional and intellectual tool. For business, it’s only so-so. And when I am on deadlines, I ignore it completely.

But then, I’m disciplined from years of entrepreneurship to be self-motivated, from years of running to be self-disciplined, and from years of ADD to be able to multi-task.

I’m best with continuous partial attention, and almost incapable or focusing on only one thing at a time. My father used to tell me “you can’t dance at all the weddings,” which is an old middle Eastern saying. I have always tried, however.

Susan Kitchens April 8, 2008 at 9:09 am

Thanks, Francine, for offering your perspective. It’s helpful.

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