Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Twitter and me: a story of love, loss, and redemption

While I started my Twitter account months ago, I only discovered its potential last November. I started following people, and was surprised to get followers. In the beginning I retweeted furiously whatever that sounded interesting, which expanded and shrunk my modest list of followers in cycles. I realized my mistake after I started following a prolific tweeter who seemed to RT something every minute. I understood that clogging a feed with tweets is not appreciated (especially if one is not a star-studded celebrity) and reduced my output drastically. 
I learned to follow conference tweets and was exhilarated of feeling almost present. I followed chats and hashtags. I started checking out trends and was proud to be the first in the family to hear about news and happenings. My bookmark list swelled of all the new websites and blogposts I encountered on my way (and skimmed through as I had no time to actually read them thoroughly).
Then of course it was socially fun. By following several people with different point of views from mine I got to read articles I would have never read otherwise. I connected with people from afar and enjoyed the politeness of thanking for RTs and #FFs.
After a while I realized that 1) before RTing something, I should check the original link, and 2) if tweeting about a scientific article it would be more useful for everybody involved if I actually read the material and provided the basic conclusions. 
Around Christmas I was on a family visit. Between fun stuff and fun stuff I felt compelled to check what had happened in my absence. The inability to catch up with over 100 tweets made me sad. 
On the morning of December 31st I looked at my desk. Scattered around the laptop were piles of papers, a stack of unread scientific magazines, and many post-its with lists. The day before had been a rainy day and I had sat basically the whole day "working." In fact, more than half my day was spent in following story after story that popped up through the maelstrom of social media. The state of my desk clearly showed the state of my mind: scattered, unfocused, and messy.
So the last day of 2010 I carried my laptop to the family office, leaving my desk to the traditional media. That desk has a lovely view to the backyard and I can see a glimpse of the mountains. I made a stack of the magazines and managed to select and read those articles that I found interesting to read. To the day of today I need the touch of the paper and the feeling of pages turning to make reading sink deep. I cleared my desk and updated my post-its.
Then I sat down, opened a book, and started to read.
(more to come...)

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