Reflections after Three Years of Being on Twitter

Three years ago today my Twitter handle @duanehallock was born.

First hearing of Twitter only four months earlier, I was proud to consider myself an early adopter of a new social media tool. Although I did not see the real value of microblogging, I welcomed the new opportunity and embraced the new media platform before any of my friends or immediate co-workers followed suit.

Three years hence, I have nearly 1,000 followers. While that’s not particularly impressive by Twitter standards, I am surprised that so many people have chosen to follow my erratic stream of tweets.

I’ll admit that, like many, I am still trying to figure out where Twitter is going. In an attempt to assess Twitter’s relevance in my ever-changing world, I came up with these two lists:

Five things I like about Twitter

  1. Brevity is paramount.  I once heard a great 15-minute sermon delivered in 45 minutes. I hope that speaker has since discovered Twitter and learned the sacred art of being succinct. I hate verbosity and think it’s a great discipline for someone to say something of value in 140 characters or less.
  2. Information flows in real time.  In recent days I’ve tracked others’ tweets to get real-time information on the devastation of Hurricane Irene. I’m writing this blog post while on disaster assignment for the American Red Cross. Ironically, I created my Twitter profile on this date three years ago on the same day I participated in a planning session for Hurricane Gustav.
  3. Hashtags and searches add value. At first, the Twitter stream can appear chaotic, random and cluttered. All that information can be filtered and organized, though, to make Twitter meaningful and relevant.
  4. Information can be life-saving. Working in disaster situations, I can see how information can be life-saving. A recent survey conducted by the Red Cross showed that Americans are relying more and more on social media to learn about ongoing disasters, to seek help and to share information about their well-being after emergencies.
  5. Misinformation can be corrected real time. Rumors and false information are corrected quickly in social media. This is especially true in Twitter where such a fast-moving stream of information has the ability to self-correct in real time.

Three things I find annoying.

  1. Too few conversations occur. From my vantage point, the vast majority of people on Twitter just push out information. Too many are talking and too few are really listening. Conversations require a two-way give-and-take. I wish I saw more meaningful interactions on Twitter.
  2. Protected tweets defeat the purpose, don’t they? Why buy a megaphone if all you want to do is whisper? I don’t understand why someone would create a profile on such a public medium and then be so anthropophobic (yes, that’s a word). Perhaps those covert tweeterers (is that a word?) should stick to private texting, encrypted e-mails or other secure forms of communicating.
  3. Tweeting is not synonymous with communicating. Some people tweet often even when they have nothing to say. I supposed they want to raise their visibility in the fast-moving stream of microblogged information. They may share motivational quotes or make inane observations about everyday life. Hopefully someone finds those nuggets of noise interesting. I don’t.
So, how has Twitter changed your life? What do you like best about it? Least? On, and when leaving a comment, please share your Twitter handle so I can follow you.
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5 Responses to Reflections after Three Years of Being on Twitter

  1. wordsfallfrommyeyes says:

    Interesting Duane. I’m not into twitter, and don’t even know how to twitter – can I twitter from an average phone? But 1,000 followers I think is great!! Well done!

    To be honest, I’ve never understood twitter as it’s so minimal and I have, like, SO much to say!!

  2. Duane,
    We have had several conversations about our different twitter experiences. I tend to agree with your take that there are a lot of people who just blast information out. There are also a lot that engage in conversation and reply to posts, etc. Its a matter of finding the right ones. A good way I have found is following twitter chats. My timeline is always filled with people participating in twitter chats and the ones I find interesting, I’ll just in to. Have found a lot of great people to follow that way.

    @patricksallee

  3. lisafick says:

    all of these point are right on! You caputured it well!

  4. sweet reyes says:

    Hi Duane,

    You hit it right! Tweets are overwhelming. Tweets all over and non stop. I was not into Tweeter before coz I thought its mainly for gossips and non sense. But I was wrong, Most information i got so far are beneficial. Some topics I post on my blog are sometimes an inspiration from a certain hashtag. I tweet to share my blog links to my followers too. I wish i could have more followers just like you. 🙂

    Thanks!
    @iamsweetreyes

    • Duane Hallock says:

      Thanks for sharing. Don’t envy me for the number of followers because that doesn’t really mean much in the world of Twitter. The real key is to receive and share great content, and to have meaningful conversations with the right people.

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