All That Twitters Is Not Gold

“Some people weave burlap into the fabric of our lives, and some weave gold thread. Both contribute to make the whole picture beautiful and unique.”

I love Twitter.

However, when I first started tweeting, I was a bit intimidated.  After all, I’m a little nobody in this little corner of the world.  What right do I have to talk about myself?  Moreover, why would I expect anyone else to care?

http://twitter.com/#!/shilpiiz/status/13977719037501440

It should come as no surprise, then, that I was once a wallflower in the Twitter dance, marveling at the other glittering tweeps, who seemed to know all the steps.  My one-sided relationship with Twitter involved getting the latest news from my fitness gurus; laughing at (but not replying to) a self-deprecating tweet; and, in general, being a spectator. Eventually, I realized that I actually should be interacting with these tweeps: that I was expected to give feedback, share a tweep’s news/updates that I thought particularly compelling and generally, put as much into Twitter as I was getting from it.

http://twitter.com/#!/CtKscribe/status/27074847500

I remember the first time that I interacted with Christina Kingston (@CtKScribe).  She came highly recommended by Clement Yeung (@clementyeung), and after a few clicks around her website, I found her to be fresh and witty, and her social network skills were truly enviable.  I had to follow her.

Along with being a social media goddess, she has a heart of gold.  She was the first person to include me in a group conversation, which even now continues.  I’m so grateful for that interaction, because through it (and her), I had the privilege to know and meet such supportive, loving, and, of course, fun ladies.  I began to learn Twitter’s full potential and realize that even though it was (and is) a lot of fun, I can also use it to create lasting friendships with people who actually care about my goals.  People who remind me that I am not alone.  They are definitely golden threads in my Twitter experiences.

“All that glisters is not gold.” Prince of Morocco, Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare

Naturally, the more I interacted on Twitter, the more friends (I hate saying “followers”) I acquired.  I love meeting new people, and finding seemingly like-minded writers is especially thrilling.  So thrilling, in fact, that I overlooked some…quirks (constant self-promotion and ambiguous RTs to name a few) in favor of being friends.  After all, these people had more followers, more tweets, more gravitas, than I did, so who was I to unfollow them? Thankfully, I got over that thought quickly, and was able to see past the false glistening of some when compared to the truly golden on Twitter.

“A gentle riddance.” Portia, Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare

Twitter is my fun experience, something completely voluntary, and I don’t need to interact, follow, or associate with people who are negative or who produce negative feelings in me.  I am no longer worried about the repercussions of pressing the “Unfollow” button, because honestly, life is too short to waste on what is the equivalent to voluntary spam, especially when I have such great people in my life with whom I’d rather invest my time.

When I think about where I’ve drawn inspiration from over this past year, I realize how grateful I am to these golden threads I follow on Twitter.  They have motivated and supported me toward my goals, some of which I never thought I’d achieve.  They are the ones that matter, and to whom I’m truly indebted.  Sharing the people who have made the most impact in my thinking is just a small way for me to give gratitude and joy back to them.

What impact has social media had in your life?

[This post is tangential to my Across the Twitterverse series.  Other posts include: Thursday Thoughts: on Twitter (yes I know it’s Friday)Across The Twitterverse: The ListsAcross the Twitterverse: The Retweet.  They don’t need to be read in order but it may be nice to see where I’m coming from.]

Across the Twitterverse: The Retweet

This post is part of my Across the Twitterverse series, and is dedicated to Debbie Burns (@DB_Smyth), whether she likes it or not 😉

If Twitter is a Micro-Blog…

Though Twitter is set up more like the chat rooms of yore, it is essentially a microblogging site which just happens to be very useful for real time social networking.  When we blog using traditional platforms like WordPress or Blogspot, we tell people what’s going on in our little corner of the universe.  Usually, the posts tend to run long, and so blog posts are generally sporadic, usually revolving around the blogger’s Important Events or Momentous Thoughts.

Twitter, on the other hand, was designed to fill in those gaps between the Important Events and Momentous Thoughts.  It’s to tell your friends/ family/followers what you are doing on a more daily, run of the mill basis; perhaps, what led you to write about Momentous Thoughts or Important Event.  Plus, it helps to get the word out to more people when those bigger events happen in your life.

…Then, What is The Retweet?

The best description that I have come across for The Retweet is from one of my favorite Twitter Friends, Tina Kingston:

http://twitter.com/CtKscribe/status/28843504067

If tweets are mini blog posts, then to Retweet another Twitter user’s tweet is essentially like having a guest blogger post something on your blog.  You invite guest bloggers because you WANT to write about a particular subject, but feel that this other person can write about that subject better than you can (for a variety of reasons).

That is what The Retweet is: you are using another tweep’s words to encapsulate what you would have said, but since they’ve said it so well, you have decided to just quote them and give them credit for it on your profile.  You have Retweeted his/her tweet.  (WordPress now has a “Reblog” feature.  Think of it like that.)

There are two ways to Retweet: The Classic way and The New way.  The New Retweet is kind of annoying because you really don’t see or know if anyone has Retweeted a tweet of yours unless you deliberately look for it (under the “My Tweets, Retweeted” tab on Twitter).  The plus side is that New Retweet prominently credits the original tweep for his/her words.  And, it also breaks up the monotony of your profile’s timeline.

On the other hand, Classic Retweet is denoted by an “RT.”

http://twitter.com/#!/KimberlyKinrade/status/9445337987022848

I prefer Classic Retweet because 1) the Tweep knows that I’m Retweeting and 2) I can add a comment to the Tweet, making it a more streamlined way of following conversations, since not all Twitter platforms show conversations easily.

Either way, I find the Retweet complimentary because it tells me that other people find value in my tweets, enough that they want to share it with their own followers.  This practice allows other people to find me and perhaps follow me, too.  (Remember, just because your profile is public doesn’t mean that people will automatically find you based solely on your tweets. Except for spambots.  They’re always there.  Lurking.  *cringe*)

At the same time, I use The Retweet to find new tweeps with whom to connect.  (Think of it like a “word of mouth” referral: when you find something you like and just HAVE to tell your friends about it, you do so without prompting, because you love it so much.  That’s how I see Retweets by my friends: they must like this person/tweet, so therefore, this tweep must be worth following, or at least, this blog post they’re retweeting must be worth reading.)

I personally find Retweets with comments (RT) encouraging, and I want to be able to spread the love and encourage others.  I mean, one of the very first RT with comment I received was from one of my favorite fitness heroes, and I will be honest, I was beaming all day when I saw it*:

http://twitter.com/#!/Shawn_Phillips/status/24009676893

What It Means to Me

I look at Retweets as just another way to encourage others and spread the knowledge, laughter, quirkiness that I have found in the original tweet.  I love being able to Retweet @KierstenWhite’s auctions, and help raise money for a deserving person.  I love Retweeting any of @NatalieWhipple’s posts on her writing journey.  I love Retweeting fitness or writing articles/quotes that I have found informative and/or helpful in some way.  I love spotlighting anything that has improved my life or helped change my level of thinking, in the hopes that someone else may find it useful as well.

To me, Twitter, with all its functions, is just another way to spread joy, and honestly, have lots of fun.  And, maybe, with this mindset, you will be able to delight in it as well.  Join the conversation.  That’s all that Twitter is and the more you share and interact, the more you will get out of it.

Speaking of Interaction

Do you have any thoughts on Twitter?  Please share!

Up Next: Keep the Conversation Going

*Shawn Phillips’s articles on high-intensity interval training, and book, ABSolution, helped to spark and flame the fitness fire in me almost 10 years ago, and it’s still going on strong now.  To be able to connect with someone who has been so influential in my life is one of the reasons why I am so happy and grateful for Twitter.  Plus, he likes Maui almost as much as I do! 😉