Being Participatory: An Impromptu Twitter Chat

Held Her Breath And Hoped To Survive Until Daybreak

I’m generally a shy person and very much an introvert. Yet, I decided to enter a profession where I need to be outgoing all day long as I work with learners of all ages. Over time, I’ve accepted and don’t have a problem speaking up in most social settings. Most. Twitter has been one of those mediums where I’ve been less comfortable with interacting with others. I seem to have gotten more comfortable and I didn’t really notice it until tonight when I joined a Twitter chat very unexpectedly. While waiting for my daughter to finally go to sleep (she’s still awake by the way), I opened up Twitter to check things out. Most of the time I’m a lurker. I don’t get too involved, mainly because I don’t have a lot of time to contribute. But I saw a tweet in my feed with the hashtag #1to1techat and decided to check it out and was in luck that they were still actively engaging in their Twitter chat. I lurked for a couple minutes just to see what was going on and then I quickly found myself shooting out a few tweets in the last minutes of the chat.

I’m sharing my experience not because I want to out my social awkwardness, but because too often we don’t engage through social media even though we have a lot to contribute. This has happened to me and a lot of very eloquent educators I know who don’t want to engage for a number of reasons. Yet, as we lurk, we have opinions on the conversations taking place without us. We aren’t using our voice and our contributions that can help deepen everyone’s knowledge never reach the engaged, captivated audience in Twitter. I didn’t really notice, or maybe believe, this until tonight when I spent just a few minutes participating in the Twitter chat. I sent out only a few tweets, yet a number of people retweeted, replied, and favorited some of my tweets. I don’t feel like I said anything too revolutionary, but it apparently was valuable to some people, which makes me think I assisted in their learning. And that’s what makes social media powerful. It’s the interactions you have with other people. While tonight I only engaged in a small way and my knowledge and skills likely didn’t change all that much, although I do think they changed, I helped contribute to the learning of others. All because I participated and it’s entirely possible that the next time I participate I’ll get to a deeper level of interaction with my Twitter colleagues and my knowledge will in fact expand into new arenas and in different ways.

So next time you find yourself with a few minutes to spare, check out Twitter and see what’s happening. Participate. Send out some tweets in response to what others are saying. It may feel awkward. It may even be a little uncomfortable. But you get used to it and nothing makes you feel better than when someone validates something you’ve said. Because just maybe, you helped then learn something and in the process, you learned something too.

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/11248435@N04/8163873467/

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