Nine Years on Twitter

Twitter LogoAn unexpected anniversary.

This week marks the 10 year anniversary of the social networking site, Twitter. It’s been getting a lot of press and there are a lot of tweets from Twitter highlighting events throughout its history. I read through a bunch of them yesterday and remembered more than a few.

That got me thinking of how long I’d been on Twitter. I went to my profile page, and saw that I opened my account in March 2007. Almost exactly nine years. But what day in March? Had I missed my anniversary?

I Googled “Twitter anniversary date” and discovered Twitter Birthday, a site that exists solely to tell you when a twitter account was opened. I put in my user name. And I discovered that my account was opened on March 20, 2007. Exactly nine years before.

Twitter Birth Certificate
My Twitter “birth certificate,” retrieved exactly nine years after my account was opened.

Over the past nine years, I’ve been very active on Twitter, posting more than 57,000 tweets. I’ve formed good friendships with many people from all over the world that I’ve met on Twitter, including Andy Piper (the first person I ever followed, who now works for Twitter), Miraz Jordan, Ruth Kneale, Barbara Gavin, Shirley Kaiser, Michael T. Rose, Mike Muench, Esther Schindler, Jonathan Bailey, Chuck Joiner, Mike Meraz, Greg Glockner, Daniel Messier, Bob Levine, Ann Torrence, Bryan William Jones, Patty Hankins, April Mains, Debbie Ripps, Pam Baker, Terry Austin, Kirschen Seah, Jodene, Amanda Sargent, Ryan Keough, Steven Pass, Bill Evans, Derek Colanduno, Derek Bartholomaus, Bonnie Pruitt, Arlene Wszalek, Marvyn Robinson, and others.

I’ve met several of these “virtual friends” in person, including Andy (who lives in the U.K.), Shirley (California), Esther (Arizona), Mike Muench (Florida), Mike Meraz (California), Daniel (Arizona), Ann (Utah), Bryan (Utah), Patty (Maryland), Terry (Texas).

Barbara (Massachusetts) and Jodene (Washington) have gone on helicopter rides with me and Amanda (Washington/Louisiana) has actually flown my helicopter in Washington while I was tending to some divorce-related business in Arizona.

I wrote a book with Miraz (New Zealand) and was interviewed once by Marvyn (U.K.) for his Inspired Pilot podcast and multiple times by Chuck (New Jersey) for his MacVoices video podcast.

I’ve also used Twitter to keep in touch with people I already knew from my personal and business life. And organizations that tweet information that interests me. Those lists are too long to recite here.

Twitter has changed my life in another important way, too. In 2009, I authored and recorded the first of several video courses about Twitter for Lynda.com. This turned out to be a real contributor to my income with impressive royalties year after year as the course was regularly revised. (Sadly, I no longer do this course for Lynda and can’t recommend the current version.)

I blogged about Twitter and my relationship to it. My very first post about Twitter concerned then presidential candidate John Edwards using Twitter way back in 2007 to attract voters. That’s not a big deal today, but it was huge back then. Another post from 2007 titled “Reach Out and Meet Someone” covered my thoughts on social media and meeting people online. I felt as if I needed to explain it — it was that new. I also blogged “Four Steps to Get the Most Out of Twitter,” which, nine years later, is still valid. You can read more of my posts about Twitter by following the Twitter tag.

Nine years after joining Twitter, I’m as enthusiastic about it as ever. While it’s true that I’m not thrilled about some of the changes I’ve seen — notably the preponderance of “promoted tweets,” the Moments feature, and the algorithm now used (by default!) to sort your timeline — Twitter has remained unique enough to make it an important component of my social networking efforts. It’s still my “water cooler,” the place I turn to get social when I need a break from my daily activities.

While I lot of people just “don’t get” Twitter, I’m pretty sure that I do. And I expect to be using it for a long time to come.

15 thoughts on “Nine Years on Twitter

  1. Those are truly amazing stats. 57k tweets in 78k hours is a tweet every ninety minutes, day and night. Having never sent a tweet this seems puzzling to me. But you obviously get a buzz from it. So what hooks a person into the tweetosphere?
    I hear about lots of negativity, group shaming, crowd bullying, even tweeter suicides. So there must be a strong positive or a smart person like you would not be doing it.
    What’s the secret? How do you get any work done?
    (Sorry, that’s way over my 140 characters)

    • That does seem like an awful lot of tweets. I should mention that some tweets are automated — for example, when I post to my blog, a link is automatically tweeted. And then, when I’m on Twitter, I usually tweet a few times and then respond to other tweets. That could be 10 tweets in 10 minutes right there.

      How do I get work done? I don’t watch much TV. And I’m not on social networks all day. I visit at break time, usually when I need to clear my mind or rest from physical labor. I also tend to visit when I’m bored, like if I have to wait in line for something or wait for a meal at a restaurant when I’m eating alone.

  2. Ah, I get it. I had over-estimated effort per tweet. I suppose a re-tweet will count as a tweet even if it is not your composition?
    I contributed to two message boards but the same old religious, ethical and political topics come round again and again. Occasionally some truly innovative arguments will make me think, even change my attitudes but these are usually developed at length and are well-researched and balanced. That is hard to do in a brief tweet, I would guess.
    The BBC had the best message boards (IMHO) but the cost of proper moderation made them too expensive to support. The best had to be dropped.
    I enjoy your blog because it is informative, polite and focused. You know the identity of your subscribers, but I understand that Twitter allows anonymous multi-identity posters who can say anything without legal consequence?

    A woman on last nights news was recalling, without rancour, the threats of rape and murder she had received from tweeters who disliked her suggestion that British banknotes might carry a picture of the writer Jane Austen.

    • Actually, I think a retweet DOES count as a tweet.

      I like the 140-character limit. It forces you to be brief and to get to the meat of the matter quickly.

      Yes, Twitter, like unmoderated message boards, has trolls. Fortunately, they’re easy enough to block. The rule should ALWAYS be “don’t feed the trolls.” To prevent trolling my account on Twitter, I just block people who tweet obnoxious things to me. (Just as I block trolls on blog comments here.)

      The absolute WORST thing you can do is give trolls any recognition whatsoever. Doing so lets them know they got under your skin and it gives them the recognition they crave. Instead, ignore them, block them, and carry on as usual. They’re left to wonder whether you even saw their obnoxious post. They really DO go away, likely in search of someone else who will feed them.

  3. Maria & Robert, I haven’t been on twitter in a while but in 3 years I sent close to 50,000 tweets. How that happened was that I had some interesting friends from forums who’d told me to switch to twitter,

    The 140 limit makes it fun and challenging … to be witty. Wit and kindness is why I Tweet.

    So for me it’s social, but strangely enough only folks from very far away. Lots of humour, some commiseration when ‘dog rolls in compost’ or whether to drink Before making dinner, etc. I have 500 followers. Some famous: chefs, writers, musicians and lots are mostly fun, friendly adults who have my skew on the world.

    It’s pretty fun when you get a riff going , humour-wise.

    And Maria, I found my first tweet. Here’s the url if you haven’t yet: https://discover.twitter.com/first-tweet%20

    ps to Robert: I follow Nick Frost, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead), Graham Linehan – Father Ted, IT Crowd & Stephen Fry * ahem * and they’ve all chatted back and forth many times. Cool, eh?

    lulu

  4. 9 years is a long time to be a social media site. And to be on one almost a year to the day since it’s inception is pretty great timing.

    I know I prefer Twitter over all other social media platforms. I’ve read your blog posts on Facebook and trying to understand the how’s and why’s there. For me, Twitter has always been more of enjoyable way of communicating with others. And as with yourself, I plan to be on Twitter for years to come.

    Happy Twitter Anniversary to you.

    • Thanks, Marty.

      And I still don’t completely understand why I spend as much time as I do on Facebook. I really do hate about 75% of what I find there. It really appeals to the lowest common denominator. And, at times, it’s embarrassing to see the kinds of crap people I know in real life — and have known for years! — say and share. Ugh.

  5. Maria and Lulu,

    Walking away from Trolls is obviously good sense; as you say, a response only feeds their nastiness, but as a bloke I see ‘walking away’ as ‘backing down’, which is even harder! (Sad, I know). If I joined Twitter my blood pressure would be off the Richter scale in a day.

    Lulu,
    Thanks for the link, I followed it to retrieve Graham Linehan’s first tweet (very dry). But Stephen Fry’s wasn’t there…
    I sometimes click on Maria’s passing tweets and retweets in the right hand column of this blog and last week stumbled across a great GIF of the Incredible Hulk briefly ‘interacting’ with D. Trump. Bliss.

    • I guess that’s one of the benefits of being a woman: we don’t have that “macho” thing going on. (Makes us safer pilots, too. ;-) )

      Anyway, I don’t consider it backing down when I ignore it, mostly because I know it drives them nut when I DON’T reply. They’re left wondering if their punch hit home. I especially love it when people put a lot of time and effort into writing nasty comments that never appear on this site because they’ve already been identified as troublesome users. Imagine how annoyed you’d be if you spent 20 minutes venting bile at your keyboard and the results never appeared anywhere. Honestly, they do simply go away. It’s amazing.

      This morning on Twitter, some racist moron in the U.K. is paying the price for confronting a Muslim woman in person and then bragging about it in a tweet. His tweet was picked up by BuzzFeed so he’s likely to be ruined by it. http://www.buzzfeed.com/harrietclugston/croydon-man-brags-about-confronting-muslim-woman-o-276ck We really DO need to be careful about what we put on social media.

  6. You might be right about the pilot thing. Women tend to be better communicators (unevidenced generalisation, I grant you) and that can be safety-critical in aviation.
    I like to hear a woman’s voice on ATC as the exchange carries the necessary information but seems less ‘formal’ and if I have made a complete dick of myself by fluffing a read-back, say, there is usually more help and less blame. Other male pilots have said they feel the same.

    Thanks for the link to Buzzfeed. In my view, nobody comes out of that well. He was a bully, sure, but he is not in the same category as the man who carefully packed nails and bolts around the bombs he was planning to detonate in an airport check-in zone. I was also deeply offended by that attack. For a moment there I too was thinking in unpardonable generalisations and stereotypes. I believe we all do that from time to time. He was fired-up enough to convert his bad thoughts into cruel actions.

    For me, that exchange perfectly illustrates the problem with ‘short and pithy’ tweets. There is no space for nuance or reflection, everything is suddenly escalated to ‘red alert’ and egos feel crushed and humiliated. The place for apology was passed because he was trapped in a rear-guard battle he knew he would lose. So he ends up by deciding to be exactly as offensive as his critics say he was. Sensing that he was about to be ‘tweet-lynched’ he said to himself “may as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb”. He became a complete dick.
    No dialogue there just a slanging match.

    If it helps, I apologise for his actions.

    • No need to apologize for his actions. For every one offensive moron in the U.K., I guarantee that there are 10 of them here. And I won’t apologize for ours. :-(

      The problem lies with blaming an entire group of people for the actions of a handful of men who pack explosives and nails into suitcases and detonate them in crowded places. Is it that woman’s fault that these men did that? Of course not. Why should she be confronted like that? Doesn’t that moron realize that his treatment of these groups of people are further marginalizing them, making them more likely to turn to the dark side? We’re dealing with the same insanity here — one of our presidential candidates (for Pete’s sake!) suggested extra policing in “Muslim neighborhoods.” That’s no only absurd and racist, but it’s un-American. That’s Cruz’s idea. Trump wants to simply pack them up and ship them out. Jeez.

      What these people don’t get is that if you tweet something offensive enough that it goes viral it can hurt — in a VERY bad way. Search Google for “careers ruined by social media” for some good examples. Smart people learn from other people’s mistakes. Dumb people don’t.

  7. I think we agree about populist bully rhetoric.
    During the First World War, one of my relatives (English for 700 years) and then in London, had a Dachsund dog. She had to take it to the vet to have it humanely killed as local youths had threatened to kill it because it was a “German” dog. Patriotism had morphed into madness. I believe that anti-Japanese feeling reached similar intensity in the US after Pearl Harbour.

    The mob can be extremely hysterical and sadistic.

What do you think?