Before I entered the Twitterverse, or sent my first Tweet across the network, I held court and invoked harsh judgments on anyone and everyone who wasted their time on this “mindless endeavor.” I want deeper connections and conversations than the space of 140 characters allows. I write books, for heaven’s sake, and I’ve grown accustomed to 140 pages of open sea on which to launch my message. How meaningful can our conversations really be if the measuring rod is a mere 140 characters deep?
But since jumping in to this ankle-deep flow of words, I’ve changed my mind. I see that Twitter may be good for the soul, and for the soul of the writer in particular. Here’s why…
1. I have to choose my words wisely. When I first started writing, someone told me to imagine the economy of words in this way. You have a message to communicate, but it costs you $1.00 for every word you use to accomplish that task. This helped me learn to cut the unnecessary verbiage and write tight. Same principle applies to Twitter, except every character counts, and my words must be few.
2. I’m more authentic. I can think of no other place than within the realm of social networking where all my worlds come together in one place. I don’t work separate accounts with separate names, one for work, one for family, one for church, etc… I like the fact that my high school friends see my church friends, and my family hears what I’m doing in my work world. My life feels less pigeonholed and more congruent thanks to social networking.
3. I’m no longer isolated in my work. Although the world may think otherwise, every writer knows they cannot write alone. They need to be inspired, supported, critiqued, told they aren’t going crazy, edited and prayed over. I have a whole team of folks I rely on for all these things and I get a touch of it all in my social network.
4. I have opportunity to give and receive kindness from my Twitter community. In the spirit of Robert Fulghum (remember All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten?) I believe this is what Twitter is all about…or maybe it’s just what happens in my own unique community. I hope others find the same to be true. I notice personalities emerge and see what’s important to certain people. I connect one follower to another knowing it may enrich their world, or to a video clip or blog that expresses what I know they are thinking about. It creates a tangible touch of kindness in an otherwise cold world of technology. And it really is that simple, as simple as the kindergarten rule of being kind to one another.
Ankle-deep is good. It’s the same pleasure I get when we walk ankle-deep along the edge of the ocean, knowing there is so much more beyond even as my feet touch that vastness in some small way. That’s what I’m doing on Twitter. I’m walking along the edge of an ocean of knowledge, spontaneity, humor, wisdom, business savvy, kindness and everyday life, happy to touch the vastness of each life in some small way.