Lots of people in my life don't get Twitter. They don't understand what the attraction is, or why I both enjoy and value my interactions there. Some of them find it silly, or trivial, or annoying. (One, indeed, has pointblank asked me to give it up altogether, a move I am still considering, but with a great deal of reluctance).
I seem to be past the point where people who know me well question why I blog. My immediate family, including the kids, likes my blog - its existence, the enjoyment they can see it gives me, and the longditudinal family record it provides. But Twitter, ah, that's a different beast. The exchange / mutuality aspect of it, the transactional nature, the staccato prose required by the 140 char limit, the warp speed at which it moves, the king tide of garbage in which the stream of gold floats - it not only doesn't appeal to everyone, it's bewildering and repugnant to some. For others, it's the way that I use Twitter that they find objectionable - the fact that I talk to people I haven't met IRL, the fact that I join conversations and debates, and the fact that, according to one person at least, Twitter has a ubiquity in my life that none of my other online activities do.
It's hard for me to really explain to the sceptics what it is that being on Twitter gives me. I suppose I can best express it by telling you what Twitter feels like to me. It feels like a great, fast-flowing river of minds, into which I can dive and find myself part of something bigger than myself and my local concerns, and yet, paradoxically, where my individuality and my particular problems can find support and encouragement, no matter what time of the day or night. I feel like I can participate in the zeitgeist of my times on Twitter; that the veil between "important stuff" and me is thin and tattered there, that *I* can speak and debate and be heard.
Perhaps even more importantly, I can turn to Twitter for reality checks and emotional support. Last night I had a real dilemma, involving a situation that had occurred in my offline world. I was angry and confused and didn't know what to do. Absent Twitter, and the friendships I have made there - real friendships, whether or not I've ever met the people in the flesh - I would've stewed and stressed, my anger turning sour in my belly and poisoning my night and the days ahead. I would've been quite likely to explode disproportionately, causing srious harm to relationships that, temporary rage aside, I have no real desire to jettison.
Instead, two DM conversations with longstanding Twitter friends helped me to work through my feelings and the events that have inspired them, and to come up with ideas for how to move forward constructively. One of those women has also become an IRL friend, while the other is someone I feel I know very well, after many years of online interaction, but have never met face to face. Both were there, last night, to give me their wisdom, suport and validation, and it's hard for me to overstate how important that was to me.
So as I look down the barrel of maybe having to give Twitter up, it's not a happy picture for me. I will lose something that matters to me across more than one vector of my social, emotional and intellectual life. If Twitter's not your cup of tea, that's absolutely cool - but it definitely is mine, and I'll miss it chronically if I do sacrifice it.
12 hours ago