I love Facebook. I find it a fun and informal way of keeping in touch with friends and family. It enables me to have a link with people who I wouldn’t keep in regular contact with, but who I don’t want to lose contact with altogether, like old school friends. I have found Twitter on the other hand to be a more intangible beast. The thing is I’ve not really had the time to look at Twitter to understand it, or to figure out why I might want to use it. However, one week without looking after the kids has given me enough time to dip my toe in the tweety water, and so far it’s a curious, and enjoyable experience.
The first thing I found strangely challenging was generation of my username: ‘be creative’ it said. Now I’ve never been cool, in fact, I fall into a category of slightly socially fumbling, without the brains to pull off geek. So the prospect of being creative with my username left me staring blankly at my computer screen for ages. So I’ve decided to be very uncreative and just use my name. Alter egos have never really been my thing.
So I’m in. I have a curious feeling, a bit like being the new girl. I’m surrounded by people who know what they’re doing, and who have already established themselves within their own groups and communities. The weirdest thing is that no one knows I’m there. So I could tweet away, but it could be a very long time before someone ‘hears’ my broadcasts. So, time to find people to ‘follow’. This is a strange concept. You can see people’s tweets without actually following them, and the people you follow don’t necessarily follow you. It’s quite voyeuristic, and left me with a slightly uneasy feeling like I was stalking everyone. Of course, you can set up your profile so that not everyone can see your tweets, but because there doesn’t seem to be the same level of personal information on Twitter as there is on Facebook it makes for a much more open forum of communication.
So I select a few people to follow, primarily by checking out who Rich is following, and then that sparked a few other thoughts on people I might be interested in.
Then a couple of people start following me. Oh the pressure! Now I have to say something that people will be interested in, or entertained by, or that will broaden their knowledge, or be really useful. The thought of updating my status on Facebook seems far less daunting, because I’m broadcasting to a very closed circuit of people, who are in the main posting equally everyday messages. But with Twitter people seem to be posting more relevant, factual messages. There is less of the ‘Mmmmm lovely cup of tea’ and more of the ‘Have you seen this really interesting piece of research?’, and the use of #tags groups together common thoughts, ideas and discussions which can make searching for a particular meme easier.
So it doesn’t take long to get the bug. I’m already finding that when I pick up my phone instead of opening the Facebook app, I’m increasingly drawn to Twitter. Perhaps because of the more rich content that is squeezed into those 140 character snippets, perhaps because most of the people I’m following on Twitter are people I find inspirational, thought provoking or simply entertaining, or perhaps because it is new to me.
There are some things I’m still not sure about. Like does it matter how I present myself? Do I try to encapsulate myself into a discrete entity of ‘Mummy’, ‘Human factors person’ or ‘volleyball player’ before becoming more involved? At the moment it’s probably not that important as I’m sure my 4 followers, who know me anyway, are not following me for any sense of enlightenment. Then there is sticking my head above the parapet and making myself known by tweeting at someone in particular. At the moment it feels a little like piping up in a meeting where you’re not sure you’re quite qualified to be there, let alone voice your opinion, particularly as no one else in the room was even aware of your presence. I think I need to fill out my profile first, so people can take a look when I do speak up and find out a bit about who I am. Now just for the small matter of choosing an appropriate photo….!