Yes, it’s another post about the wonder that is Twitter. Thinking about it lately, I’ve decided to list a few of the things you can use it for:
- Networking. Well, dur.
- Chat and conversation. When you follow a few people who regularly to chat to each other you a) get to join in and have a good old natter yourself and b) get treated to real entertainment. Some of the conversations that crop up are actually hilarious.
- Search. Want an opinion on something? Want news updates? Chances are you will find it on Twitter. Either search for a phrase / name / product to find out people’s opinions on it or just ask the question. Within a few minutes you’ll have a range of answers.
- REsearch. You can connect with so many different people, you can talk to someone in any country. For a writer this opens up huge possibilities – check if a local idiom is right, what would x profession do in y case, etc etc etc.
- Professional support and knowledge base. There is always someone blogging about whatever sphere you’re working in and the Twitterverse share those links liberally. Excellent way to find blogs you didn’t know existed. Chances are that’s how you got here, so that’s my point proven.
But my personal favourite is for folks like me who are crippled by shyness – in real life that is. I don’t know about other shy people, but my biggest problem is communicating verbally in social situations. Either I freeze and can’t think of anything to say (and the moment is gone) or I trip over words as they stumble out, coming across as inept and inarticulate.
Twitter removes those barriers. In the first instance, the moment doesn’t generally go. Someone posts a status; you want to respond; you think of a response. Unlike a verbal exchange, which has to be pretty much instant, you can take your time. The original post is there if readers forget what you’re responding to so there isn’t the need for an immediate answer. You can select your words, and almost do away with that horrible feeling of “I wish I’d said that…”. You can even leave a conversation and come back in a while later. You give the excuse that you had to do something when really you were thinking of your witty and intelligent response. 😉
The other way Twitter helps people to overcome or at least manage shyness is a certain degree of anonymity. On the one hand you could be a raving axe-wielding lunatic for all your followers know, but on the other you can be more yourself than you can in real life. Without the problems of verbal diarrhoea, for instance, making you self-conscious, you relax and just say what you think. You form relationships based on shared interests, and know that people are talking to you because they genuinely want to hear what you have to say – there is very little comparable for a confidence boost.
I have twice met up with people I’ve met on Twitter (it would be more but poverty prevents trips to London or Edinburgh!) and I can honestly say I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do that and have such lovely times without the rapport and conversation I found on Twitter first. I blogged a couple of times last year about how happy I felt going into my thirties, and how much more relaxed I felt about who I am – I hold Twitter directly responsible for a great deal of that.