I put it off for a long time, but I finally took the plunge. I dragged myself kicking and tweeting into the Twitterverse.
For the most part, I get Facebook. I love the visual, bulletin-board appeal of Pinterest. And I wonder if anyone over the age of 40 uses Snapchat, Tumblr, Reddit, or other social media du jour.
But Twitter? I’m feeling like a Twidiot.
Like most parents trying to stay ahead of the social media curve, I feel pressured to be on Twitter, if nothing else than to monitor my kids’ online behavior and read funny Tweets from Jimmy Fallon. But I’ve been avoiding Twitter like a flu shot. It might be good for me, but I just keep putting it off.
Finally, after one too many deer-in-the-headlights looks when asked what my Twitter handle was, I caved and joined “the voice of the world.” But to me, Twitter is just one more piece of technology to stumble through. While that blue little bird icon looks friendly, the Twitterverse feels like a walk through a dark, scary forest – alone. I might as well be learning to speak German, that’s how foreign Twitter feels to me. Hashtags particularly confuse me because when I look at this: # I see the pound sign, thanks to my high school typing class. (Yes, I’m that old.) And I still don’t know what Twitter Moments are – feel free to enlighten me. From Hashtags and Retweets to Trending Topics and Mentions, I’m walking around in a social media haze.
On Facebook, before I understood private messaging, I shared way too many personal comments on friends’ Facebook pages, like, “Is Tanya still wetting the bed?” and “How’s that weird rash of little Jimmy’s? Is the ointment helping?”
On Pinterest, I’m trying to figure out how to create secret boards for things I might not want to share with everyone, like wine porn, mommy burnout cures and celebrity crushes.
And now, I’ve got to get myself up to social media speed on Twitter. So, I’m pouring through the FAQs in the Twitter Help Center, Googling Twiitter for Dummies and scanning Twitter cheat sheets. And yet, despite all this help, I think I just Tweeted myself. Oh my.
My first mistake? Thinking I had 140 words to share in my Tweets. That I could handle. But 140 characters? That’s barely even a run-on sentence. A just-learning-to-speak toddler can’t even contain his thoughts to 140 characters. I’m guessing this limit works well with the teen crowd, known for their one-word mutterings and lack of elaboration. (How was school? Fine. What happened today? Nothing.)
My second struggle? It takes me 10 minutes just to compose, revise, edit and proofread every Tweet, making sure to find those embarrassing auto-correct mistakes that turn “soccer” into “sucker” and “pop” into “poop.” And with my giant gorilla thumbs constantly hitting wrong letters (and typing things like “titter” instead of “Twitter”), I don’t want to hit the Tweet button a moment too soon.
Plus, like any social media platform, there are Twitter rules, tips and etiquette to follow. According to Twitter for Dummies, rules of grammar and punctuation fly out the window when you send a Tweet. How am I going to teach my kids good manners and conversation skills if I’m abbreviating “Pls” for “please,” using emojis in place of real words, and misunderstanding “LOL” to mean “lots of love” instead of “laughing out loud”? #parentproblems #twittertroubles.
A few of my favorite Twitter rules so far:
Don’t pull a Twitter one-night stand, where you follow someone and then dump her as soon as she follows you. (This is a thing? I thought I was past the age of being dumped.)
Don’t Tweet that you are bored. Now I am too. (Ha-ha! Love this one.)
When you’re “liking” and “hearting” your own posts, you’re basically confirming what a narcissist you really are. (Darn! Already broke this rule.)
Strike a balance between lurker and spammer. So, I don’t want to be shy girl in the Twitter corner, but I don’t want to deluge followers with my every thought. Got it – no need to overshare.
Capitalization makes all the difference, as duly noted by Susan Boyle’s PR team when she released her new album with this Tweet: #susanalbumparty.
So, if you want to follow me on Twitter (if for no other reason than to laugh at my regular Twitter faux pas), my “handle” is @LisaBeachWrites. I probably can’t figure out how to follow you back, but I can always ask my tech-savvy kids for help.
Lisa Beach is a freelance journalist, content marketing specialist and copywriter. She’s been published in Parents, USA Today Back to School, Edible Orlando, Woman’s World and dozens of publications and websites. Find her at LisaB
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