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