True Twitter Confessions: At First I Couldn't Figure Out What The Big Deal Was About
At first I couldn't figure out why everyone was making such a big deal about Twitter. I mean, wasn't it just glorified IM-ing for grownups?
It took me about 100 tweets (messages sent to other Twitter users) to go from questioning the benefits of Twitter to getting totally hooked. (Don't say you weren't warned.) And once I was hooked, I started thinking about all the ways Twitter was becoming essential in my life -- and how it could be used to make life better for other parents.
I compared notes with other parents on Twitter in order to produce this list (very much a work-in-progress) of ways parents are using Twitter in their everyday lives.
Note: The strange-looking comments that are pasted in below are tweets – the messages Twitter users send to communicate with one another. Because tweets are limited to 140 characters, Twitter users resort to diy acronyms in order to squeeze as much message as possible into the limited number of characters.
You can use Twitter to stay connected to the outside world when you're at home caring for young children.
@DaniGirl "I've found twitter perfectly suited to the 5 minute bursts of free time that defines the day when mothering a wee baby in a family of five!"
You can Tweet pregnancy updates.
You can tap into the endless flow of news, parenting and otherwise.
Whether you want to keep on top of news headlnes, health news, product safety recalls, find out which celebrity is pregnant (@ParentDish: "Molly Ringwald Pregnant!") and which products are and aren't worth buying (earlier today, @frozenfoods described a particular brand of ready-to-eat family-size Salisbury Steak "dog food in a cesspool of gravy").
You can pick up new ideas.
Earlier today, I was reading a @shacker's page and I found a post that read "On the hunt for used/recycled lumber – back to building a fort with Miles." Then, a few lines up on the page, he reported on his success in scoring free lumber: "HUGE thanks to Ashby Lumber for donation of imperfect wood for our fort. Even loaded it onto car with forklift!" Clearly @shacker is a genius.
You get to hang out with people who are just like you or who share the same interests as you.
When you have dozens, hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of people pooling their collective wisdom, you can imagine how inspiring the conversations can be.
You can meet other people who aren't just like you.
That's part of the fun of twitter, too: broadening your horizons:
You'll find out about cool widgets that have just been invented – and you'll dream up fabulous ways to use them.
How about mapping out your next mommy group argument over sleep training methods using this tool, for example? (Found via @TechCrunch.)
One final tip: It's a good idea to read up on Twitter basics, including Twitter etiquette, before you start firing off spam-o-grams or nasty rants. One of the best things about Twitter is that its culture generally favors nice over nasty, but not in an over-the-top or fake way. Here are some quick guides to Twitter that will help you to sidestep the faux pas while making the most of this incredibly powerful and versatile communications tool. Have fun -- and I hope you'll take a moment to swing back and report on the many uses you find for Twitter -- things I haven't even dreamed of yet.