Friday, December 17, 2010

Why I Like Twitter

I got on Twitter with hesitation. I admit it took me quite awhile to get used to Twitter and to figure out how it works. I think I'm getting the hang of it. In fact, now I really like it.

Here's why:

It's a level playing field

On Facebook there is a sense of relationship and a degree to which you know a person. You are in a constant friction managing family, close friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

Twitter, on the other hand, is a level playing field. We're all acquaintances regardless of actual (or lack there of) real relationships. The main reason for this is that Twitter is completely open to the whole internet (unless you've locked it down, but that's no fun). Anybody can "follow" you or check in to see what you are "tweeting." Facebook is in a constant state of restriction - who shall I be friends with and how much should I let them see.

Freedom to interact

Twitter has a sense of Freedom of Speech.  You can choose not to say anything to anyone you follow and that's ok.  You can also reply to people you don't know at all and who don't know you.  In fact, you can "meet" some really interesting people this way.  There's no pressure either way.  At least I don't feel any.

Less is More

On Twitter you only have 140 characters to speak your mind. It makes you get to the point really quickly. If I want to be wordy I'll switch over to my blog. I like the quick pace of Twitter.

An International Bunch

Twitter has a way of being very international because of mutual interests.  That broadens my horizons.  For some reason a number of people in the UK and Australia started following me.  Not sure what I have to offer them but I started following many of them in return.  Seeing their tweets on a daily basis gives me a greater sense of the world.  I know that Scotland and England have been getting hammered with snow this year because of their tweets.  Do I need to know it's snowing in England? No.  But I like to know it.  I like to have a better and more intimate sense of what is going on in the world.  And it's fun too.


I really began to enjoy the power of Twitter when I embraced my many passions rather than trying to brand myself just in the world of genealogy.  I tweet mostly about genealogy, history and historic houses but I am interested in many more things.  I like lots of things in life and I can follow people who tweet on those topics.  Instead of narrowing my branding, I'm broadening my connection with the world.  That's cool.  I can follow anyone just because their topics interest me. 

Genealogy and History

Many genealogists talk about how to engage historians in dialogue.  Well, you're missing the boat if you keep talking about it amongst genealogists.  Genealogists and historians get along great on Twitter and have many interactions.  I have been so enriched by discovering historians on Twitter.  Yes, we approach the world slightly differently but on Twitter we interact and share. 

Where I stand 

Mind you I still love Facebook. It's a special more secure place where I can interact with my community. I just wanted to stand up on my box and say, "I get Twitter now.  I love it.  I'm embracing it and I thought I'd let you know why."

The Dark Side of Twitter

There is of course a dark side to Twitter.  It's public.  Completely public.  Sometimes people get lulled into a false sense of security.  Don't.  Before every tweet you should ask yourself these questions:

1) Am I revealing too much information about myself?
2) Am I happy with everyone in the world (include my Granny) seeing this tweet?
3) Should I really say this or is it better left unsaid?

If you can remember to stay safe of Twitter, the world is your oyster.  I know it's mine. 

Thanks for reading but I've got to get back to my Tweeps now....... :)


  1. Great post!

    Aside from my genealogy peeps, I also follow local news/politics people. They in turn follow me back and I'm communicating with circles of people with whom I wouldn't normally interact. Even better, these media folks now bring me their genealogy questions!

    Thanks for sharing your experience with Twitter. You're a valuable asset to the genealogy community.

    --Amy (@acoffin)

  2. Great post, Marian! One of the things that I think is fun is finding non-genealogy common interests with my genealogy peeps. I love the 140-character limit also. You have to choose your thoughts and words carefully to fit into that space.

  3. great post to share with those that don't "get twitter" I have such a wide range of interests and as you point out can stay up to date this way. Also live 3,000 miles from family and monitor their weather, power outages, local news etc. Have also used it traveling for recommendations on local food, lodging etc

  4. Very interesting post, Marian. Has prompted me to think about using Twitter more for genealogy.

  5. Great post, Marian! I love Twitter for all those same reasons, too! I haven't been Tweeting as much lately, and do feel 'out of the loop' worldwise for not tweeeting. With Tweep buddies in Australia and England, too, I do sometimes know what is going on before it hits the national news here. And that is cool, too. One night here in my little town, we heard sirens, lots of them, but no way to know what was going on, and within a couple of hours, someone on Facebook had mentioned a family's loss to a house fire.

  6. Great post! I love Twitter for many of the reasons you mentioned and it's the one I joined first. But once I learned to quit being distracted with games, etc. on FB, I've learn to love it too especially for the connections I can make and have made with with family.