I wasn't sure what to expect when I created my twitter account less than a year ago. I thought, "How is this going to be any different than Facebook?"
Now, 536 followers later (between a few accounts), I know the difference.
Twitter has given me that feeling again.
Of my followers, I'll introduce you to just three from my timeline who have made an impact on me. I look forward to hearing from them -- much like getting that International envelope from my pen pal so many years ago.
One of my twitter pals is an 18-year-old girl from Israel. She is currently serving in the Israeli army. When I first began following her, she had just graduated and was bemoaning the fact that she may not be able to be online much when she began her soldier life. But, she is proud to serve her country. Wanting to be placed on the front lines, she reached out to her followers for support when she found she was put at a desk job. "I feel like I disappointed all of you," she tweeted. I was compelled to reply. "Disappointment: no. Admiration: yes" "omg, thanks. that means a lot." she tweets back.
Then there is another from somewhere in the UK. She is a mom, like me and has three teenagers, like me. But she has 2 dogs. And her aging father had just moved in with her. Her tweets have me laughing about the funny things her dad says and does. She complains about her "emo" kids. She uses words like sack and fancy. Like when I sent her this tweet: "Hey I have 3 teens, a hubby and a dog. So you've got one dog and one live-in father on me," she replied, "Fancy a switch?"
Sometimes it's not the tweets, but the witnessing of an event as it happens. I'll never forget the story of a fellow Justin Bieber fan from Denmark who was trying to meet him in London. Sadly, the event was canceled because of the mass hysteria Justin caused in the streets. Devastated, she tweeted her anguish live: "So i am not meeting Justin anyway and theres nothing universal music or anyone can do about it."
Her followers and fellow Beliebers began spamming Justin and members of his crew to help. Finally, she got a reply from Justin himself, "I can do something about it. #BELIEVE THAT! stay tuned." Because of Twitter, her 142,311 followers had a front row seat to the unfolding drama -- and happy ending.
So I continue to peruse my Twitter feed daily. You have to weed out the sponsored links, the celebrity imposters, the spam. But somewhere out there in this vast world that keeps feeling smaller, you just may find a friend.
Renee Tanner is a News-Review page designer who doesn't claim to be a Twitter expert, but she does know more about it than her teenagers. Her column appears every other Friday. Follow her on one of her Twitter accounts: @ReneeTanner_pnr
twitter user/real name: The user name starts with @xxxx (no spaces) The real name is displayed next to your icon (picture) -- You don't really have to use your real name if you don't want to.
name: Your real name. No funny business. If people don't know who you are, they won't be your 'friend.'
follow: Find people or organizations of interest to you. Click the 'follow' button next to their name. Voila! You are now following. Their tweets will show up in your timeline. When someone follows you, it's customary to follow back.
friend: Find people. Send a friend request. Usually, in order to interact, you have to wait for them to accept your request. Once that happens, their status updates show up in your newsfeed. And yours in theirs.