This week, my company had a work retreat in D.C. to discuss the direction of the firm and the need to utilize social media more often. I was taking notes when all of a sudden the subject of Twitter came up.
My boss talked about expanding our Twitter usage, and he commented that he assumed that everyone had a Twitter account. I stopped writing, and apparently I had a giant “guilty” sign on my face, because our tech expert looked at me and said, “You do have Twitter, right Lindsey?” Silence filled the room, and I could feel myself turning a little red. I answered that no, I did not have a Twitter account yet, and wondered if I would be flogged.
No flogging proceeded after that encounter, but I was asked by my boss to set up a Twitter account that afternoon. My brain was spinning–between Gmail, Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn, and now Twitter, I felt like I was on social media overload. I was reminded of the Conan O’Brien joke that if you put all of the latest social media names together, you’d get “You.Twit.Face.”
My fantastic friend and co-worker Lisa gave me a “Twitter 101” lesson, and soon I was connected to the world of tweets, tweeps, and hashtags (oh my). It was kind of fun to realize that you could “follow” tons of different people, and I signed up to follow everyone from Khloe Kardashian (I like reality TV, okay?) to the U.S. State Department’s Assistant Secretary of State for Education and Cultural Affairs to People Magazine. I also signed up to follow foreign news outlets in Mexico, Brazil, Paris, and Rome, which was kind of cool.
When you think about it, social media has made the world even smaller. I can Skype with friends in London and feel like they’re sitting next to me (except when their faces freeze on the computer screen). I can write messages to my friends in Seoul and know that it will be in their inbox right after I send it. I can get professional advice from friends around the world through LinkedIn, post a Facebook wall post for friends overseas to ask for travel advice, and so on. You can look at pictures of destinations, read other travelers’ opinions about locations, and prepare for trips using firsthand accounts of what to expect.
So, in a sense, social media can make you feel like you’re mentally traveling to far off places, which is great when you can’t physically travel. Nothing beats the real deal, to be sure, but there are realities that prevent most of us from taking off 365 days a year–jobs, paychecks, bills, and all of the other fun aspects of being an adult.
I’m still getting used to Twitter, and part of me is still on social media overload, but I do like the fact that even if I’m not physically in Rome, Paris, Rio, or wherever, I can still get real time updates of what’s happening there. I might be in Washington, D.C., but Twitter can at least help me mentally travel to other parts of the world.
In the end, I think that I like Twitter. I just have to make sure that I don’t mentally travel to Rio and forget where I actually am…