I’ve recently become a ‘twitterer.’ Twitter – this brave new world of sorts – has opened up new vistas that have made me view the whole world differently. I joined initially at the persuasion of my friend Richard (http://twitter.com/RCaro) – who seemed to imply that tweeting was essential for anyone who 1) is a writer; 2) is interested in other people knowing about one (i.e. ‘success’); and 3) cares about community, other people, the world, and who wants to know what’s what.
I started a bit cynically, especially when I read that 60% of people who sign up for Twitter drop out almost right away. That’s me, I thought. The first few attempts made me laugh in a fiendish “muahahahaha” sort of way to cover up my inability to figure out what the heck anyone was talking about. Evidently, there was some sort of secret code going on here that would take months to break. Was I willing to hole up in a barn somewhere and figure this out? Not likely.
But some weeks later I tried again. True, I had an ulterior motive: my agent had responded positively to my latest manuscript and was about to submit it. What if an editor went to my web site and saw that I was a self-promoter, I was hip, I was a twitterer – would that help my chances?
Twittering was much easier now that my novel was completed and I was taking a brief hiatus to focus on it. But to my surprise, it didn’t take months of research and sweat and tears to ‘break the code.’ I had a handle on the concept within a matter of hours, and I encourage anyone who thinks it’s too confusing not to be daunted. Imagine going to Tuscany or Crete and purchasing an espresso – sure, you’re trying to communicate in another language, but we’re all the same species and we just want our coffee. We can make ourselves understood.
The most daunting part of Twitter for me turned out to be my own insecurity. I felt that everyone else seemed to know each other. I felt like an outsider. I was the one at the party who saw everyone else chatting and laughing together at a joke I didn’t understand, and I was pretending I belonged there anyway. Everyone else was glamorous, exciting, successful, ‘in the know.’
But then I received a direct response from a total stranger (http://twitter.com/Kerensd) who told me how much she liked my ‘3 happinesses.’ I had made my first friend. Suddenly everything shifted. I realized many twitterers feel the way I did when they first start. I remembered that lots of people are shy as they find their way into a new community. From now on I was going to do my part to be welcoming and friendly to new people, just as others have been to me.
Now that I am hooked I see that it’s not, after all, the promotional opportunities on Twitter that count so much as Community. I’ve become part of an international writing and reading tribe that has welcomed me without any coldness or test. I’m part of a community that communicates fun, lively, friendly, important, not-important information about themselves and topics I’m engaged in. We share a warm, engrossed feeling when we go to a link to an article that we find personally fascinating or a person about whom we might never otherwise have heard. Even if we don’t say “Thanks for sending that!” every time, we feel a pleasant glow of camaraderie and gratitude for so much sharing. Twitter is like my very own personal yahoonews/socialnetwork/emailinbox – and yet so much more simple, open, light, and sweet.