For years, the thought of joining Twitter filled me with dread. I was convinced it would upset the balance of life, something I strive hard to preserve. My privacy would go out the window, and, worse still, I’d probably be judged, abused or ridiculed for saying the wrong thing. If that didn’t happen, I feared I would lose my precious hours to nonsense. The perception Twitterphobes and technophobes have from the outside is that Twitter is filled with banalities and too much sharing.
I was wrong.
I finally embraced Twitter mainly because I was afraid of missing out. FOMO, as it is fondly known. Fear of missing out. In coaching, to start a goal with this mindset is what we call an away from motivation, not a towards motivation. I know enough about goal-setting to know that this is not the healthiest of motivations for achieving goals, so I am especially surprised that a goal, motivated by fear to address a fear has had some unexpectedly positive results.It turns out that Twitter is so much more than I realized. I had a pleasant surprise in store. It fuels, nay turbocharges, one of my greatest passions: learning.
An Educational Wonderland
Twitter allows me to connect with peers, heroes, heroines, and experts from all corners of the globe. I can access the forefront of new ideas, fresh insights, topical discussions and the latest thinking from famous business authors and psychologists.
I can follow links to articles, resources, and forums to further my knowledge and build my understanding. From leadership and psychology to the importance of educating young girls in developing countries, I can research the topics that fascinate me and immerse myself in a learning experience like no other.
In my time, at my pace. No waiting for books and articles to be published, no course dates to navigate or flights to hop on for conferences to attend.
I’m wondering why, when friends and colleagues were encouraging me to try out Twitter, nobody explained to me the richness of this active, stimulating, global learning community? In truth, maybe they had. Perhaps fear made me switch off and prevented me from listening.It isn’t just me. I spend a lot of time reassuring others who share the same fears that I once had. So how did I go from Twitterphobe to blossoming social media butterfly?
The Journey Begins…
I wasn’t keen to dive right in. I know that when I do want to achieve a goal, I have some independent learning strategies that help me. Asking for help is high on my agenda. I tapped into my friends’ experience and asked a Twitter expert to give me some one-on-one guidance. My carefully selected teachers showed me that my fear was irrational, and that it was holding me back.
Tips for Twitter
Here’s a few tips I learned along the way and perhaps some may help you if you are like me, a latecomer to Twitter or even still resisting it.
- Adopt a growth mindset, as explained by Carol Dweck. It’s a learnable skill. If you’re prepared to make mistakes, look for feedback, and put in the effort to improve, you will get better.
Understand the lingo. It may look like complicated hieroglyphics, but you’ll soon recognize Twitter’s unique language, presentation and style. I had no idea so many tweets would be linked to articles and blogs. It is so worth clicking through the code to find the treasure.
- Tune in to the right people. Like a radio station, take time to find your favorite people or organizations. Remember, if you’re not hooked, a little tap and you can unfollow, allowing your Twitter stream to be more of a reflection of your values and interests. This allows you to become more intrinsically motivated as time goes on.
- Stay connected. My social media tutor showed me a graph depicting where most people lose interest. Be prepared to stall, but get gritty as Angela Duckworth would say: Exercise grit to achieve important goals and push past that point.
- Tweet to encourage and share, and don’t show off or overly self promote. Retweet and spread positive messages that you think can be a force for good in the world.
- Follow lots of folk that fascinate you, and don’t worry about your number of followers. Try to be unself-conscious and not driven by ego has been great advice. Follow your interests and enjoy the learning that follows, rather than anguishing over your own number of followers.
- Read your Twitter stream regularly. It will teach you more about the subjects that fascinate you, and brings news to you far quicker than any other medium.
- Keep it real. Tweet authentically. It’s best to be yourself and boldly send your message out into the world.
- Enjoy! Enjoy the feeling of global connectivity.
From Fear to Excitement
So, I’ve had an interesting journey. I started off with a mindset based in fear and extrinsic motivation of feeling I should do, need to, have to. Along the way, I have enjoyed many positive emotions I wasn’t expecting. Awe, grit, connection, love of learning, and that mother of all positive emotions, gratitude. I am feeling the need to send a large “Tweet of Gratitude” to all my teachers. Thank you to those who sat patiently with me while I conquered my Twitter fear and to those whom I may never meet, but who inspire and teach me from thousands of miles away.
Follow Fiona Parashar on Twitter to see what she contributes to the world-wide learning network: @fiparashar
Miller, C. A. & Frisch, M. B. (2009), Creating Your Best Life: The Ultimate Life List Guide. New York: Sterling.
Duckworth, A.L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(6), 1087-1101.
Dweck, C. (2007). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Ballantine Books.
Emmons, R.A (2003) Personal goals, life meaning & virtue: wellsprings of a positive life. In C.L. M. Keyes & J. Haidt (Eds.) Flourishing: Positive Psychology and the Life Well-Lived. (pp 108-128). Washington DC. American Psychological Association
Kaufman, S. B. (2013). Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined. Basic Books.
Ryan, R. M., and Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68-78.
Photo Credit: via Compfight with Creative Commons licenses
Twenty First Century Learner courtesy of Guilia Forsythe
Butterfly and blossom courtesy of macropoulos
Twitter network courtesy of Marc Smith
Dan Sperber describes culture as the residue of the epidemic spread of ideas. In the words of Clay Shirky’s essay on the subject, “Sperber’s two primitives — externalization of ideas, internalization of expressions– give us a way to think of culture not as a big container that people inhabit but as a network whose traces, drawn carefully, let us ask how the behaviors of individuals create larger, longer-lived patterns. … Given this, we can ask detailed questions about which private ideas are made public where, and we can ask when and how often those public ideas take hold in individual minds.”
So by participating in Twitter, you are reinforcing the ideas that inspire and stimulate you AND you are injecting your own ideas for others to potentionally reinforce. Thus you are participating in the shaping of our culture.
I thought that was a fun way to think about the wider value of what you’re doing.
Clay Shirky (2013). Dan Sperber’s Explanation of Culture. In John Brockman (Ed.), This Explains Everything: Deep, Beautiful, and Elegant Theories of How the World Works. New York: Harper Perennial.
Sperber, D. (1996). Explaining Culture: A Naturalistic Approach. Blackwell Publishers.
Thanks Kathryn, I love that way of looking at it. Hadn’t thought of it in this way. Great reframe!