Have you ever arrived half way though a conversation? One that is in full flow and thriving, those taking part are so engrossed in the discussion that it is hard for them to explain where it all began. You try and catch up with what is being said but you feel self-conscious, like you are eavesdropping on a private conversation. The contributors have already come so far together that perhaps it would be wrong for you to expect to join in now. After all you are not sure what everyone is talking about so what would you say?
Standing on the outskirts of the Twitter phenomenon some months ago this is exactly how I felt. Trawling through the thousands of Tweets on numerous profile pages in an attempt to grasp this global gathering, this ‘Twitterverse’, felt a bit like trying to translate tribal scripture or decode crop circles. Tword’s, retweets, hashtags, DM’s all meant nothing to me. My brain was not used to this diet of 140 characters and I found the plethora of posts hard to understand.
Staring at my own empty Twitter profile I had many ‘chicken or egg’ moments wondering how all these Tweeple started Tweeting in the first place? With no followers how could I begin a conversation with myself? Surely talking to myself is no way to attract friends?
Fortunately I was offered a place on the Brighton Festival Fringe’s marketing team as one of their online Ambassadors. Although at first the title unnerved me, I was reassured by the Liberty842 team that they would be at hand to guide, advise and untangle any Twitter lingo that gets me in a twist.
Over the months that have passed I have been working on a number of Twitter accounts, not just for the Fringe but for also for Carousel (see my previous post) and just recently the penny dropped.
Twitter has an incredible pace and energy to it and seems to be rapidly evolving into a culture of its own. Now that my brain’s digestive system has become more accustomed to the 140 character format, it suddenly makes perfect sense. Everyone is packaging their information in the same sized envelopes, which makes the exchanges easier to manage and absorb.
Twitter’s most endearing quality however is the support system it provides. Far from being the closed off, secret club that I thought it was, it encourages its members to come together because of shared interests and beliefs and build communities and tribes around areas of common concerns and passions.
Splitting my working week between Brighton Festival Fringe, Carousel and Liberty842 would be a lot more challenging if it wasn’t for Twitter. Three completely different organisations can come together and show support for each other by following each other’s projects and encouraging other like-minded people to follow and support them too.
The system of ‘following’ is what sets Twitter apart from other social media platforms, and reinforces the feeling of movement that you get from being on Twitter. Whether you are living under a strict political regime, have a physical disability and face mobility issues, or you’re just simply unknown, independent and just starting out – there is very little that will exclude you from finding friends on Twitter and leading them towards action and change.
The photo is from the Carousel event at the Blue Camel Club in Brighton.