Saturday, 22 March 2014

Milestone or Millstone?

I have written before about how my understanding of and participation in social media is 'not a numbers game', not about counting followers or retweets or favourites, but should be about showing up, sharing, interacting, learning and having some fun along the way.  

On Thursday, I came across the #myfirsttweet meme and was surprised to be reminded that my first tweet was in June 2010 and that I had wanted to explore Twitter's micro-blogging potential to support learning. 
Coincidentally, I realised yesterday evening that I had passed the 10,000 tweet mark earlier in the day.  That seems like a lot of twitter time!

So has it been a good use of my time? Has it been worth the effort and the risk? Have I indeed, showed up, shared, interacted, learned and had some fun?

I joined Twitter in 2010 to try and get an understanding of this new medium in relation to my professional practice, but what I discovered along the way was quite unexpected. I discovered a number of communities, professional and interest-based - who generously welcomed me in, shared their knowledge and experience with me and - astonishingly - wanted to know what I thought, engaged me in conversation and sought my opinions. And I was immediately and irrevocably entranced and engaged.

Not only that, but by the simple use of the magic trick called 'hashtags' and the ability to embed links to Internet sites, I could focus in on topics of interest, conversations (tweetchats) and resources in support thereof. 

My #PLN (Personal Learning Community) has grown digitally and has been enhanced by being able to cut through the 'Loneliness of the Disconnected Conference Attendee' and has enriched my conference (and un-conference) experiences. I've enjoyed not attending many such events, by following the twitter stream, via #hashtag, that others have shared live from the floor. And I've learned to do the same myself.

I now share photos via Instagram and Flickr. And I have learned to, if not, love facebook, at least to appreciate it and connect with friends and family in a more considered and adult fashion, even if I do think some of them need to get out more... I've also finally started to get my head around Pinterest, which has been a complete mystery to me up until just recently.

More work still to do: I could spend more time interacting with my LinkedIn communities, and I really must get to grips with Google+, particularly as so many PLN have kindly added me to their circles and, quite frankly, it's getting embarrassing that I have not afforded them at least the courtesy of acknowledging and reciprocating their validation.

To put all of the above in perspective, yesterday evening someone accused me - in a loving way, of course - of having 'twittertourettes', because I tweeted something just before we left a local restaurant. They may be right.
It's now part of my DNA. It's given me a voice that I had forgotten I had and enabled me to grow, develop and 'show up' personally and professionally. Indeed, as this tweet yesterday, nearly four years later shows, even my boss has expressed a view on it.

But has it become an unhealthy obsession? Do I feel the irresistible need to tweet/blog/post/pin/comment every day? Has social media become a millstone round my neck, a distraction from the real work and the real world, a demanding child requiring constant attention?  

Not so far. Not as long as I keep remembering that it's not a broadcasting channel; it's a walkie-talkie, a two-way street. Dialogue and authenticity are my watchwords here.

And on that note, here endeth a blog that's been a long time coming. Thanks for reading; thanks for being in my PLN (whether you knew you were or not), and thanks in anticipation for any comments/thoughts/challenges that you would like to add.


  1. The great thing about Twitter is how many people can be in your #PLN without knowing it. You are on mine. Enjoy the next 10000

  2. Great post, Gavin. I think you echo what a lot of us feel who use Twitter for our #PLN. Just keeping up with Twitter is sometimes hard work so adding in G+, Linked-in is inviting even more data into your life! Somehow, Linked-in feels further removed than Twitter, Twitter more immediate and in line of sight. The use of the mobile Linked-in is helpful. I look at G+ and interact a little but it's not my 'first point of look' - that's Twitter.

    1. Couldn't agree more Julian. I approach Google+ with some trepidation, but have already been welcomed in when I posted this blog in that space for the first time. It's about keeping it all in perspective and balancing everything out for the right reasons, I guess. Appreciate your taking the time to read and comment - #PLN in action!