Have you stood in a room full of people who don't use Twitter and talked to them about Twitter? "So... wait. You... just tell people that... you're stuck behind a train? I don't get it."
Well. When you put it that way...
Sadly, I told the students they'd be surprised how many people actually care that you're stuck behind a train. The teacher, for example, someone I'd met through Twitter. She knew I was going to be a few minutes late to my speaking engagement in her class because I tweeted that I was stuck waiting for a train.
But it's so interesting to discuss (and justify--in a way) Twitter, and social media as a whole, to people don't use or understand it entirely. Do I really use it to tell people of the internet I'm stuck waiting for a train? Is it that simple? I realized, yes, that is exactly what I do. And it is exactly that simple.
I was asked to speak to a written communications class this morning about the influence of blogging, which inevitably led to a discussion about Twitter. None of the students use Twitter or maintain a blog. I very quickly realized I need to get out more. You mean, there are people out there not on Twitter?
I... I don't understand. Who are these people? Hold me.
I told the story of my job, and how it came to me because my boss, who'd been reading this blog for years, knew I was in a desperate search for a career-related job. Knew I was a good writer. Knew I'd be a good fit. All from reading this blog. She'd never met me. She'd never commented on my blog. A position opened at the agency. She thought of me. She reached out. And here I am.
Because of my blog.
I know, right? It's amazing what five years of drivel on the internet can do for a person.
They asked questions. What do you write about? Have you ever gotten in trouble? Are there creepers out there in the internet? Do you have to be a good writer? I told them I write about nothing. I write about everything. I write about whatever I want like an extended stream of consciousness. I've never gotten in trouble, save for a fight or two, an awkward encounter or internet-shy manchildren who can't handle a woman with an internet presence. There are certainly creepers out there, but I've probably already creeped them out. Do you have to be a good writer? I don't know. I write exactly what comes out of my mind. Have a personality.
I told them strangers email me. That "krittabug" is almost like a brand. People know me as Krittabug. It's weird. People meet me and say, "OHMYGOSH I've been reading your blog FOREVER. This is so cool!11!" And I'm, like, "Dude. You know I'm just sitting at home in my sweatpants with a cat in my lap while I'm spewing shit on the internet, right? Because I'm not that cool."
It's a very strange world. Especially to a person not in it.
But at the same time, it opens doors, presents opportunities and introduces you to people you'd never otherwise walk through, come upon or meet. Twitter is an extension of that, if not a more efficient, immediate tool. Discussing Twitter with the class felt like introducing them to a foreign land. It suddenly felt very foreign to me, too.
One student said he used to have Twitter, but only followed Lord Voldemort. I laughed, of course, because I follow Lord Voldemort, too. Shut up. That shit's funny. But otherwise the room was full of stares, questions and a few bouts of laughter.
How do I convince this room of college students that Twitter is the networking tool of the future? Hell, not even the future - of the now. They wanted to know how to follow people. How to get others to follow them. Whether you had to be a good writer, and if people on Twitter judged those who weren't. How does it help you find a job? Why Twitter instead of Facebook? Why Twitter instead of blogging? Why Twitter at all? And that damn train. Why do people care?
If I'm being honest, I don't know the answers to all of those questions. I think a person's writing skills are more relevant on a blog than they are on Twitter. I mean, come on, you have 140 characters to work with on Twitter, you've got to be crafty. But if nothing else, Twitter helps make a person more succinct. You learn very quickly to make a statement with limited space. You learn to market yourself in very creative ways. And really, that's what Twitter is, a way to market yourself. Whatever it is about yourself that you're trying to market is up to you. And I can't say I'm marketing myself in entirely the right way. But it works for me, even if I'm stuck waiting for a train.
They wanted to know if I censor myself, or if they should censor themselves. Should their personality come through? What do they say? How do they start? One student asked if I could help her find a job. I reminded them I'm just a person, just as they are. Just start. Be mindful of what you say, if you're job hunting. Be anonymous, if that suits you best. Write about your experiences. Write about what you know. Hell, tell people you're stuck behind a train. Not every blog or Twitter feed needs to be a stream of thoughts, or a personal reflection of every gory detail of life, like mine has become over the years. Many people are intimidated by just the thought of being so open on the internet. So don't be.
Network. Everyone knows someone who knows someone else who probably knows someone who works for the President of the United States. I think many of the students were very surprised and intrigued to learn the kinds of power available to you, if you have an audience or social network.
The best question of the morning was whether it's addicting. What if I couldn't tweet for a day? Would I ever consider quitting, both Twitter and my blog? If Twitter wasn't free, would I still use it? I was honest. It can absolutely consume you, and at the same time suffocate you. I've gone days without tweeting or blogging and have been just fine. But once you've built such a foundation, and suddenly you're absent, people want to know why. They want to know what you're doing. Where you've been. And a lot of times I want to scream SHUT THE HELL UP IT'S NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS. But have I made it their business? Was building this foundation of blog and Twitter followers with my own words and mindless and personal thoughts making it their business? One student asked if I feel obligated, and I don't know if that's how I'd describe it. But maybe I do. I don't, however, mind the obligation. If I ever do mind it, maybe then I'll quit.
And yes, I'd totally pay for Twitter. By the way. I pay to host this blog. And with the social network and foundation I've built through Twitter, it'd be worth it for me to maintain that, too.
I don't know if the class learned much from me this morning, or if they'll all join Twitter, like I told them to. "Will you follow me?" one of them asked. OBVIOUSLY. They clearly don't understand my obsession. But I did warn them they'd probably unfollow me within three days, because yes I do tweet about getting caught waiting for a train. And I tweet a lot. They laughed.
Oh, if they only knew.