To Tweet, Or Not To Tweet?

That is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the minds to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous twittering,
Or to take arms against a sea of useless tweets,
And by opposing end them? To tweet, or to sleep,
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
That tweeting is heir to: ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to tweet;
To tweet, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub:
For in that tweet of death what nightmares may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause – there’s the respect
That makes calamity of too long tweets.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of disprized love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a blank Twitter page? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary online life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those tweets we have
Than fly to other tweets that we know not of?
Thus tweeting does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment,
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. Soft you now,
You fair tweeters! For online, in thy orisons
Be all thy sins remembered.

Okay, so I borrowed a bit too much from the Bard. What else did you expect from someone who spent eight years teaching literature? Shakespeare is in the blood. Regardless, the question remains the same: To tweet or not to tweet? When this “Twitter thing” first hit the scene, I was clueless. After about a year of hearing about it, I finally jumped on the bandwagon with gusto and created not one, but two Twitter pages. I thought I would make one fun and one professional. The only problem was that I didn’t “get” it. I can only write 140 characters? Why bother when I can post twice that on Facebook? I gave up for awhile, abandoning this Twitter phenomenon as a feast for fools who think entirely too much of themselves. Besides, did I really need another social media outlet? I already had a MySpace account, which I have since deleted, and before that I had a Xanga account although I never really knew how to use it or what it was for. It was just something that my 10th grade students had talked me into. I had been an avid Yahoo! Messenger user for awhile after AOL Messenger seemed to die off, and I had been writing a personal blog for several years already. I figured it was just a matter of time before Twitter would eventually pass on to that great social media cloud in the sky like its friends: AOL and Xanga (MySpace seems to be in a coma but eventually it will get the Terri Schaivo treatment).

About a year later, I decided to experiment in the classroom with Twitter. I went back to the drawing board to see if I could use this as a useful tool. I offered extra credit to any student who created a Twitter account and followed me. As I already had a blog for my classroom via EduBlogs where I posted our daily activities, reminders, and important links so I thought this would be a great way to tweet reminders to my students and link back to our class blog. Less than half of my students ever started a Twitter account and fewer than 15 ever actually used their accounts more than that initial message. If they weren’t using it, then what was the point? By November of that year, I gave up on Twitter (again).

It really wasn’t until a year and a half ago that I finally found a use for Twitter in my universe. My Facebook page was getting a bit crowded between all of my close friends, acquaintances, family, colleagues, old college friends, old high school friends I hadn’t seen in 10+ years, and former students. I had found myself under a bit of scrutiny after a friend posted an embarrassing picture and tagged me in it. Before I knew it had even been posted, a colleague printed it and turned it in to my boss – anonymously, of course. I was angry and humiliated to realize that I had now officially become a cautionary tale so I created a second Facebook account and moved all of my former students and all colleagues, past and present, to that account. Some of these people I felt were friends but I also thought that this particular back-stabbing colleague was also my friend so I couldn’t afford to take chances. Feelings were hurt, friends were confused, but I felt I was doing what I had to do to protect myself and my reputation.

The only problem was that I quickly realized that it was impossible to manage two Facebook accounts on the go. Mark Zuckerberg never intended for individuals to have multiple accounts so none of the mobile platforms on the market, not even TweetDeck, allow a person to manage multiple Facebooks. This was where Twitter finally became useful to me. I discovered that if I linked my Twitter account to my professional Facebook account, then anything I tweeted would post to Facebook. Knowing this has also made me more professionally conscious of what I tweet and post. But it wasn’t until I signed up for Samra Bufkins’ PR Communications course at UNT (#untj4460) that I ever began to actually check Twitter. I realized that the reason I never checked it is because I was following the wrong people. Don’t get me wrong – Charlie Sheen, the Kardashians and the Bad Girls Club are some of my favorite guilty pleasures. But there is nothing that they tweet on a regular basis that is worth checking on regularly (except for Charlie, of course because that’s newsworthy apparently). I found that I actually was more interested in news, non-profit, education and PR organizations than what any celebrity or fashion designer had to say. Now I use Twitter to keep up with what is going on in my industry and I use my personal Facebook page and my DVR to keep up with the Kardashians.   

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