Monday, February 1, 2010

Twitter and the Technophobe

A few months ago I watched a coworker squint at a cellphone in an ill-fated attempt to send a picture message. He finally gave up and handed the phone to a younger member of our lunch table. I vowed right then that no matter how old I got, I wouldn’t get shut out of new technology.

That night I was watching SportsCenter and the episode featured “tweets” by various athletes. I had been hearing about this whole “Twitter” thing, but didn’t know anyone personally who was into it. I pulled up Google on my Macbook Pro which, much to my cat’s chagrin, is almost permanently attached to my lap, and looked up “Twitter.” I was confused and a little overwhelmed at first. I was about to shut the window and give up, when I realized that this was just the way to tackle my technophobia. I dug around for a while and kind of got a feel for it, but was somewhat discouraged by the lack of “this is how you tweet” instruction. I’m a very “by-the-book” type person so the freeform environment of Twitter was not my cup of tea. I signed up for an account and then surfed over to the library’s website and put a few books about Twitter on hold. This made me feel a little better. Hope, in the form of step-by-step directions, was on the way!

Over the course of the next few days while I wanted for my library books to arrive, I found some interesting news outlets to follow (such as and NZHerald) as well as a plethora of fellow Red Sox fans (Bill Simmons!). I didn’t write any Tweets because I had no followers to read them. I was content to use it only as a information gathering service. The true power of this came to light during Thanksgiving.

I was at a family get together and I dug my iPod out of my pocket to send some “Happy Thanksgiving” emails. When I was done, I booted up Echofon and the first Tweet I read was the New Zealand Herald telling me about Tiger Woods’ car crash! Needless to say, my family and I were all talking about it that evening as information began trickling in. This made me realize what a powerful tool this newfangled Twitter could be.

Also during Thanksgiving weekend I got my first followers! True, most of them were the Twitter equivalent of junk-mailers just looking for followers, but one of them was Jerry Remy! I immediately followed him back. I also found more people to follow. I even wrote some tweets!

Fast forward about two months to the present. I’ve since read Twitter for Dummies and The Twitter Book. (Both were helpful, but nothing compares to just jumping in and getting started.) I’ve collected over 100 followings and 30 followers. I’ve written over 350 Tweets and had some really great conversations with people as far away as Wales and New Zealand! This positive experience with Twitter was really what inspired me to tackle another modern-day invention: the blog. (Ok, so Julie and Julia helped too!)

I haven’t been able to get any of my coworkers on Twitter, but I’ll keep trying!

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