Tweeting is For the Birds

I confess, I do not tweet and I am (finally) at peace with it.

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There, I said it. I said what many are thinking and perhaps, afraid or just not wanting to say.  I am a twitter fail.  (unless you are an avid tweeter and while I respect your choice to tweet.   I just don’t get it!)

Last week, Learning Through Teaching (LTT) hosted Lester Laminack at the University of New Hampshire.  As his presentation began he made several references  as to what could or could not be tweeted.   And while I found myself completely engaged in Lester’s talk, I also found myself suddenly wondering, “Should I be the one tweeting?” As the director of LTT, I realized the obvious answer would be yes and so I took my eyes off this belly-laughing, engaging talk and put my head down and into the light of the eternal phone flame. Instantly I felt the glow illuminate my ever reddening face as I became self conscious that I was not paying attention.  I felt like that kid in the back of the class who is interested in anything and anyone but what is going on in the room.  Onward I flew.   I mean doesn’t everyone else NEED to know how awesome this is and how much fun they are missing?

Image from Wired

So I attempted to login to twitterdeck so that I could tweet not just as me (as I have nary a few followers because, remember, I DON’T tweet). So I logged in only to discover that it was the wrong account. As I found myself, once again, in password hell (a place I frequent much too often for anyone’s comfort) I felt myself surging with heat of frustration (and hot flashes) as I threw off my sweater and thought, DAMMIT, this is NOT going to beat me!

I turned to my colleague next to me, a younger version of who I used to think I used to be, and she looked at me, shrugged and said, “I don’t do twitter.”  She owned it. She was not apologetic.  And in that moment I realized  it was NOT my age

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50 year old Tweety Bird. Image by flickr

that kept me from this world of tweeting fowl, but my own personal dislike for a platform that honestly, I just don’t like! And I have tried people. I really have tried over and over and over, over the years. I keep thinking it is like that one book that you pick up over and over but you just can’t get into it. I give myself permission to abandon that book with ease…so why the hell should I struggle with abandoning this virtual platform that I just don’t like or fully get? Well, this day I granted myself permission.

So I put my phone down as everyone around me threw themselves into stitches of laughter and I realized I had missed it. Not only had I missed that moment, but I had also missed every moment since I turned my face from Lester to the almighty phone that seems to rule me and others in more ways than we ever thought possible.

And as I looked around I saw that I was in a room filled with teachers, respected colleagues and friends who were NOT tweeting. We were the anti-twitter group. dare-to-be-different-t-shirts-men-s-premium-t-shirtEveryone was engaged, laughing, listening and I thought to myself. Screw this! Isn’t this what everyone is complaining about? People on their phones?  But seriously, what message are we sending here? Is it actually possible to tweet and be completely present? One might argue that it is akin to taking notes. I would argue it is not because the ultimate purpose of the tweet is to see how many responses you can get and to see if you make the leader board for what is trending. This mechanism asks you to look back and back and back at your phone to see what others are tweeting and well, I have to ask, WHAT about the person in the room with you that is presenting? If one is trending virtually, what is happening in reality? And really, does anyone REALLY care who is not there? I ask this with respect and a niggling that we are caught up in a world that is not real. If we trend does that make the work better? Does that make what is happening in real life more or less real?  Are we ever truly present if we base our worth on what is happening elsewhere and virtually no less?

Now I am sure you are thinking, what a  curmudgeon, but I am not, at least not completely!   Part of my job is to upkeep our UNH LTT facebook page ( Learning Through Teaching) and I will tell you, it is not a task for the feint of heart. Content balanced with photos balanced with reliable sources and messages and articles and charts and graphs that align with our philosophy.  I enjoy doing it but I do often wonder…to what end? At least in Facebook the post will be there for the entire day and will not get buried in all of the other tweets that embed my feed. I can see who likes and responds and perhaps it is the speed of FB that I prefer. Tweeting seems so fleeting because it is.

So where does this leave me? I am about to attend the annual NCTE conference where twitterers will abound and I will be in the minority. I could go as I did last year and hide my bad relationship with twitter and pretend to tweet as I  play Toyblast or even glance at my twitter feed only to wonder if I have chosen poorly as the other sessions seem to be so much more interesting.  But are they really or is it just the outward projection of what is being put out there?  If I am so engaged in what is happening everywhere else at the conference I wonder,  am I  missing out?   Have I  made the wrong choice?  Am I not making the best of my time?  It is stressful.

No.  I will go, notebook and pen in hand and put the phone in the pocketbook for safe keeping and come out of the closet and admit that I choose NOT to be glued to my phone and at the mercy of the trending tweets.   I will sit in my sessions, look straight at the presenter and remember that we are not all birds that flock together because in my humble opinion, tweeting is just for the birds.

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4 thoughts on “Tweeting is For the Birds

  1. This is amazing, true, and funny on every level. Especially since I hear you and believe every word. AND…

    it is my job to Tweet. Literally. (as you know 😉 )

    So I laughed the whole way through this post because I was celebrating your announcement and confidence in your decision! Congratulation. You made a choice, found community in your choice, and stand by it. No judgement!

    Isn’t this what we want to be able to do for all writers? Writers of all kinds get get make choices. And can even make different ones day to day. Will I write? Just listen? Will I doodle? Will I sketchnote? Why I am I even noting anything? Maybe I just need to absorb for a bit?

    And the thing is, I’ll just air this one out now, the negative side of it (before i dive in to what is so wonderful about it 🙂 🙂 🙂 ) – we KNOW that Twitter has it’s own type of social capital which is more present in some sub-circles of edutwitter than others and not always helpful, healthy, or even baed on reality. All social media has the power to elevate the idea that someone is doing something that you are not. Edutwitter gets a lot of things wrong. Focusing on the wrong things. Trying to constantly stand out for being the one the gets ALL the most quotable tweets from a presenter. Sharing flowery quotes about believing in kids and strong pedagogy and choice and leadership, but not speaking out when REAL things need all voices, like a mother losing another black son, protection of marganalized groups under attack in schools and so on. The hard stuff. The real stuff.

    That said – Tweeting isn’t for everyone as a form of note taking. Just like sketchnoting, doodling,etc etc aren’t for everyone. When I am in attendance of something to tweet (as part of one of my many jobs) yes- my listening filter is angled differently. In those situations, my job is that of amplifying voice and of equity. Meaning, amplifying a message and getting that message to people who cannot be present for reasons ranging from location to cost or socioeconomic challenges, particularly those that affect the $ devoted to PD (in many places, 0.)

    I try to catch as much as I can but I am thinking of the whole, not in individual tweets. I am capturing a story to convey to the world 140 characters at a time. Kylene Beers asked me once, “How do you decide what to tweet?” And it was a really interesting question and conversation about the skill of determining importance. Everyone will capture it in their perspective. (unless, of course, it is someone speaking who is just a tweetable person, in which case Twitter gets flooded with a million misquoted versions of the same tweet that gets retweeted thousands of times and so on. Semi useless.)

    When I am tweeting as myself, it is a different story. I am capturing my own thinking to share and putting it out there with the hopes I might connect with someone to have a conversation about it. This is because I work, so often, on an island. I need that. It’s also interesting to note that sometimes when I am tweeting “on the clock” I will hear something that I decide I need to share as myself and I quickly switch over to do that and then switch back. But this works for me – When I am energized by a message or idea, my brain moves at a speed that nothing but Twitter can actually catch up with. I do, however, know that this is not always healthy and often delete Twitter from my phone for a few days or more to reboot, slow down, recenter. There are days I wish Twitter didn’t exist.

    So this LONG comment later…I’ll go back to Lester. It is hard to take your eyes and ears off that man! I wouldn’t either. I tweeted from his session at NCTE a couple years ago (on the clock) and put out very little. I just wanted to listen to him read aloud, and catch his facial expressions and dry humor..and that was ok.

    What is my point..I’m not sure… but I think it might be that Twitter can be this thing where people say, “You have to be on twitter! You aren’t relevant if you aren’t on Twitter!” But what if you are getting that connection, reflection and information elsewhere? What if people are challenging your thinking elsewhere? Isn’t that ok? Yes. Yes, it is.

    So I”ll see you at NCTE, my friend, where I will be literally Tweeting from 9-5 for 2 days straight, retweeting, sharing, and the like, keeping in mind that someone out there who cannot afford to attend, take days off or whatever, will have the chance to learn from the conference anyway. It will be exhausting. I will have my brain full of lots of tweetable quotes. I will synthesize my thoughts, though on paper. (hello new line-less notebook!!!!) And then I delete Twitter from my phone for a week and all is right with the world.

    • I love you!! I know there is value to sharing and bringing it out in the bigger world and I love that you do that and do it so well. I would also argue that your tweets do seem to have some semblance of story to them…I think this is a talent that not everyone has and well…I get weary of the have’s and the have not’s and then superstars vs. the ones who are actually IN the classrooms doing the work EVERY day! Bottom line…yes, twitter is not for me especially on the clock. My brain does not do well with multiple things going on and yes, unplugging is a must for us all! Thank you my biggest twitter friend for taking this for what it is and not being offended!! Hats of to you big bird!! xoxo

  2. Our elementary school is using Particpate.com during our professional development. One of the modules had us adding twitter feeds to certain educational twitter accounts. I listened to all the teachers around me. Some of the wanted to do it, and others did not. I used to manage Facebook and Twitter accounts during my other “business life” so I get it, but I find Facebook an easier platform to keep track of things. I have a lot more to say than what Twitter gives me. LOL. Well done Tomasen. Stand your ground.

  3. I have yet to succumb to Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram. I concede to blogging–it seems so much “here” in thought, more of a good, long look than a blink, which is was most social media seems to be

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