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Twitter: A Downpour of Information But the Sun Always Shines

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[modified 9/12/08,6:30 am]

Like some of my lawyer buddies on Twitter, I’ve noticed that I’ve had an increase in followers ever since JD Supra published this list of lawyers on Twitter.  While I’m flattered to have you all as new friends, don’t expect my tweets to give all that much insight on what I’m (or anyone else on Twitter, for that matter) really like because as I like to say, on Twitter, the sun always shines.

Of all the social networking tools, solo lawyers remain most divided about Twitter.  Some, like my pals Susan Cartier Liebel or Grant Griffiths or Kevin O’Keefe are raving fans, others like Chuck Newton or Rick Georges regard it as a time sink.   Texas Appellate Law blogger Todd Smith seems ambivalent about the value of “live-tweeting” but willing to keep at it.  As for me, well, I’m on the fence.

Why haven’t I fully embraced Twitter?  Well, first, don’t get me wrong – I do see lots of value in Twitter, most specifically as an informational tool as Grant Griffiths points out in this post.  In some ways, Twitter is like a giant, human RSS feed, except that links to interesting posts are generated not by a computerized syndication but are handpicked by the folks whom you choose to follow.  And the informality makes it easy to send a quick message to someone to test the waters on whether you’d like to get to know them better.

But there’s also an odd voyeuristic quality to Twitter.  Some like Rick Georges worry that that participating in Twitter means reading endless threads about people eating a peanut butter sandwich or going out for a run –  but to my mind, those are the posts that make Twitter most enjoyable because they reveal the day-to-day, behind the curtain view of what a person is really like.   However, many of those whom I read are ever so conscious of that everyone else reading – and as a result, they’re much selective about what they reveal.

So in my universe on Twitter, everyone “just closed a big deal” or “had a great day” or “revels in the generosity of the universe.”  People rarely “had huge argument w/husband” or “lost a fab prospect” or “burned dinner again” or “went crazy looking at clothing all over floor.” (that’s been my day today but you won’t see it in my Tweets).  Instead, you’ll find a happy buzzing hive, brimming with boasts and accomplishments and strategically leaked information that conveys the impression we want people to see.   Before I send a tweet, I often wonder,  do 200 people really need to know how wonderfully my day is going or how many successes I’m racking up?  Or am I just just  putting that information out there to make people think that I’m great?

Don’t get me wrong —  there’s one side of me that doesn’t  mind the sunny, smiley side of Twitter.   After all, don’t we all strive to present ourselves in the best possible light when we meet other people?  I’d certainly rather hang around with, or be one of a group of positive, proactive people than surround myself with naysayers, or worse, become one.

I suppose what bothers me is when Twitter is glorified as some kind of amazing, magical tool for building relationships and getting inside someone’s head, when in reality, it’s just another way to filter for information to create a persona that’s appealing but not necessarily an accurate depiction of our true selves.

Does that mean you shouldn’t use Twitter?  Not at all.  In fact, I hope that my post piques your interest enough that you’ll use it even more.  Experiment with Twitter and keep an open mind because you may find that it works for you.  And for what it’s worth,  I’ll certainly keep hanging around, getting my daily dose of handpicked links to interesting posts, and revelling in an escape to a frenetically paced, super charged world, where the sun always shines, and the men and women  are productive, accomplished, fascinating, cheery and above all,  above average.

  • I have in fact seen many “grousing” comments on Twitter and even something that looked like a marital break-up (but wasn’t).

  • This is an insightful blog post about Twitter. I too have enjoyed it at times but other times worry whether it is a bunch of nonsense. But overall it’s just another tool to connect with people. I’ve had some successes at using it as a marketing tool but it has produced far less for me than my blog.

  • Thanks for the mention, Carolyn. I really like Twitter, but I share Chuck and Rick’s concerns about it being mostly a time-waster, especially if no one is reading my tweets. I am indeed going to keep at it, though. Just not sure I’ll live-tweet another seminar.

  • Share alot of your sentiments. I enjoy it and am able to get links to interesting articles or information from those I follow. Also, have made contacts with people that never would have met through any other means. However, at times the posts seem way too mundane…including my own. All and all, its definitely worth a venture, just be selective over time on whom you choose to follow.

  • Belén Rodríguez

    Nice post. JD Supra’s article is helpful because it lists all self-identified lawyers and lets me decide which I want to read. So many other articles only list the most popular. In my opinion, Twitter is like everything else – you reap what you sow. I’m one of the mundane tweeps. I tweet about movies, books, friends, and, yes, occasionally, lunch. (I only recently outed myself as lawyer online. I’m sure you can guess why.) Then you have people like my husband, a marketing professional, who uses it to connect and interact with other marketing professionals. They tweet about industry news, tips, information, and, yes, occasionally, lunch. There’s room for everyone in the Twitterverse.

  • Thank you for pointing to the list and, more specifically, for your thoughts on Twitter. I am a big fan of the service, undoubtedly, but see the pitfalls and dangers addressed here and in other posts.
    I think the best advice for Twitter-adopters is: be yourself. Be natural. Be the way you might be in the real world when you find yourself participating in a crowd dynamic.
    Rick Klau said at this week’s LMA Tech conf. in the Bay Area that his online life is a blend of the professional and personal. I agree. Great strength in that combo – luckily we all have a choice as to how much we are willing to reveal. Participation is (mostly) opt-in.
    I have a follow-up with reference to this post at mine:
    Thank you,

  • I also see plenty of real life moments on twitter, maybe not negative per se but not all happy life is perfect either. If I didn’t see that I wouldn’t enjoy Twitter so much I think. I love the interaction level – but I think it helps that I follow diverse groups – lots of legal professionals, but also moms, bloggers, realtors, entrepreneurs, fellow Albertans, etc. Makes it much more interesting!

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