On Twitter

Okay I’ve been meaning to write on this for a few days but I’ve been out and I’ve been tired and I’ve been out and I’ve been sick.

I’m not doing the 23 Mobile Things per se, but ‘Thing One’ was Twitter so I thought I’d write a bit about my thoughts around Twitter.

I’ve been using Twitter since February 2009. In the scheme of things that’s quite a while, but I know when I first joined for ages I felt like a newbie compared with those who had joined in 2006/2007. When I signed up it was after some pestering from a few fronts. Up until recently I still followed and was followed by all those people. I liked it almost straight away, although I had no idea what I was doing. It was like a little community and I would talk about all sorts of crap (I still do, yes yes I know) and I got to know a whole heap of people.

Oddly, a lot of the people I got to know were based in Melbourne. Over time I got to meet most of them in person, and I’d still consider most of them friends even if we don’t talk much. I met a lot of Sydney people too. I remember the first tweetup I went to here – at the Australia Hotel in the Rocks. I was absolutely terrified but decided to go on my own and I had a great time. Later I started going to events like #SHTBOX that was every Friday at the Clock Hotel in Surry Hills, until my liver couldn’t take it anymore.

My Twitter relationships with people have changed over time. I don’t always follow the people I know “IRL”, and the people I talk with online I don’t always want to meet. I have some long-term online chats going with people I have never met and possibly never will. Friendship circles have changed, some because of circumstance, some because of me, some because of others. As my Twitter followers have grown I’ve used Twitter in different ways.

I’ve always shared a lot of personal stuff on Twitter. I’ve always had lines in my head that I won’t cross. I probably share things that a lot of other people wouldn’t, but I have found a support network in Twitter. A lot of the people I am in contact with now I have met through either side going through bad times. I have tweeted, and seen people tweet, through bad withdrawals from antidepressants, through bad depressions, through breakups, through anxiety. Sometimes when you think you’re completely alone support can come from the most unexpected people online. 

My tweets have been silly and drunk and personal, but there are things I won’t talk about and I don’t. But since I have more followers I feel less comfortable about talking about things, which is kind of a shame. It can be an excellent way to communicate with people and I have an excellent network of people but I miss feeling like I can share anything. While anything you say online is out there anyway, when you KNOW 2000 people are watching it’s a little disconcerting.

At times I’ve walked away from Twitter for a break, and I’ve certainly considered deleting my account. Apart from wondering if I’d be quite left out sometimes, the thing that has kept me coming back is the professional development opportunities and my personal learning network. As a librarian I know so many libraries and librarians who are on Twitter. I love being able to reach out to them for help, but also to follow what they’re doing, keep up with their work and social lives, and bounce ideas off them. But my interests extend beyond libraries into the wider GLAM community, and research, science, politics … where else can I easily track and monitor all these industries and communicate with the people involved?

Twitter drives me crazy at times. I think it can be used any way you want it to be these days. There are so many different tools and guides for etiquette, you just have to find what works for you. I use public and private lists to try to keep track of everything, but I really need to update those really soon as well. 

I was enjoying being over at app.net because it was so quiet, you could talk to everyone, see the whole timeline, but I also missed the constant stream of communication. Now when I go there I feel a bit left out. I think part of the not being able to post stuff during the work day thing makes me wonder if I need yet another place to be sharing content and talking with people. But I should come back to there as well.

Really this was just a giant, unedited brain dump. So yes. Twitter. There you go. My thoughts.