Twitter – Love it / Hate it!

twitter_logo_headerOkay, it has been 6+ months (and 1,200 tweets later)  that I’ve been on twitter and prompted by a discussion I had with my  Practicum students about this medium (I was urging them to form/make their own PLN) – I have to speak out.

I definitely have a love / hate relationship with twitter. It is like a one of those friends you so love for their excited demeanor and energy but also hate because there are times you just can’t stand how chattering and vain they are.

love hate

I have been using twitter since the start. But only impersonally for EFL Classroom 2.0 and what I consider my major achievement for ELT – Twitter Jobs (all the jobs over the net come to one place using simple pie aggregation and my knowledge of slicing/dicing rss). I also promote twitter for ELT through the ELT Twitter page that many new educators use to get a kind of understanding of Twitter.

I recognized its value right from the get go and along with Voicethread, it gets my “first decade of the 21st century tool for educators” award. Twitter allows access to knowledge, dispersion of knowledge and information. THIS no matter what anyone tells you – is the role of education – ACCESS TO KNOWING/KNOWLEDGE.  There is a reason every school had a library and there is a reason every teacher should be on twitter…..

However, to make a long story short, I was coaxed by a few people to use twitter in a more personal fashion. I agreed and entered the fray as ddeubel. I do believe in utter transparency and also in being “personal” so this allowed me to be more transparent toward twitter.  And in this belief, I’d like to give my own + and – report on twitter. You may not agree but that’s okay – just like on twitter, you don’t have to follow and can vote with your mouse! But this is how I feel.

I LOVE that:

1.  Twitter creates community. Love this, love this, love this. It allows others to know about events, information, great posts, the latest trends etc…..

2.  Twitter connects like minds. The online world was such a hard place to exist in prior to twitter.  Crowded rooms/networks where nobody understood….now twitter helps solve that.

3.  Twitter allows us to share. Post up a url/address and BAAM – it plus and minuses across the netiverse.

4.  Twitter focuses on people. And yes, at the end of the day, we ARE human and despite keyboards, memory boards and monitors – there is a loving, tender and REAL person there. Twitter brings that out in shortform.

5.  Twitter doesn’t cost. Yeah, obvious but so important. If and even WHEN they start with an obtrusive business model/approach – I hope people will leave in droves. Twitter, if they want to make money should approach governments (read: the people) for support to keep it open and accessible. False idols proposed as I’ve recently read – will not do.

________________________________________________

So now let me count the ways I hate thee O twitter!

1.  People who tweet about their recent post more than once. Okay, we got the message/mail/tweet. Shut up.

2.  Vote for me. This drives me nuts. Twitter is not your means to be loved/liked/adored.

3.  Idle chatter. Yes, I like what you tweet but then you go off on these long love in things with others that just can’t be ignored but which drive me up the wall.  I unfollow all those who treat twitter in too light a fashion and as a means of “chatter”.  I’m most disappointed in many of the  big names of ELT who mostly partake in such shallow public chit chat. Give me the BEEF or tweet up.

4.  You don’t follow me so I won’t follow you. So many play this assinine game and I really don’t even need explain why it is something I hate. Plain wrong. If you need to be loved – don’t go to Twitter for it!

5.  Telling others what you are doing. “Hi, I’m right now waiting to board a flight to this conference….” or “just letting you know I don’t like the view in my hotel room”. TWEET UP! Get a life.

5b.  Twitter as a vanity mirror. Yeah, it can really suck you in. Look at me, look at me! And pretty soon you don’t even know you’ve fallen and are drowning in its waters…… Every now and then give twitter a good smash and put it in its place!

There is a lot more that I could go on with – about my love hate relationship with twitter.  I’ll stop, this has been enough.

If though, like me, you love information – I recommend just following these two Titan tweeters. Larry Ferlazzo and Tonnet

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ddeubel

Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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14 Responses

  1. I enjoy a lot of your posts and resources. Thank you for the link to the job posts. I hadn’t seen that, yet. However, I will now respectfully disagree with you on some points. I appreciate those who post their posts more than one time. Contrary to popular belief I’m not always on Twitter so I do miss things and often it’s been by the 3rd tweet of the post I find this.

    If these are your opinions then okay I respect them but if this is a post on how you dictate others should use Twitter or any tool then I believe it is a bit pretentious. Who gets to decide the rules? Who says idle chatter for one is not building community and relationships for others? I enjoy conversations I have with others. Even if a person thinks it is idle or nonsense, for me it isn’t. Just don’t listen. With 100s of followers I’m sure people can tune into other conversations or begin having their own instead of paying attention to what they believe is nonsense. Sometimes I am having a bad day and this nonsense reminds me to laugh at myself or laugh in general. Sometimes a friend sends me a song and this makes my day because this friend knew my likes enough to know I would love that song. This is relationship building in my book. As for following. I follow very few back who don’t follow me because I use Twitter to connect with others. If you aren’t connecting with me and you aren’t someone I get information from then what is the point. I’m sorry but there are several people on Twitter in every field who share the same type of information and what makes the follow different is the interaction I have with them. This isn’t to say there aren’t some I highly respect who I follow who don’t follow me. I just think we can’t dictate the rules of social media. That is what makes social media so incredible that each person decides his/her own way to use it.

  2. I do several of these things… and I know that they are not necessarily right. I do tweet about new blog posts more than once – time differences allowed? I also engage in idle chatter (although not that much, and isn’t that a part of being human?). It all flows past pretty quickly though, so I excuse my own vanity and triviality, and forgive it in others….

  3. Greg Q says:

    I’d also add on the plus side the immediacy of news, the search and tagging options, and some of the great apps.

    On the minus side, (or is it the plus side?) at least some of the idle chatter is only transient and brief (unlike FB rants).

    One suggestion, please remember the Direct Message feature if you want to share your breakfast. It’s just a little “d” in front and only those that are fascinated by your menu, hotel view or transport delays need to know.

    LLLOOOVVVEEE Twitter!

  4. I’ve been meaning to write a post similar to this for a while. I’m sure many others have too.

    Your reasons for loving Twitter stand for themselves. I’ll comment on the reasons that don’t exactly endear you.

    Gavin Dudeney summed it up quite nicely, calling it social MEdia. My take on this is that there really is too much ME on Twitter and not enough LEARNING – the ‘L’ in PLN. This is damaging the tool as an effective and efficient learning network. Further, is the ‘P’ ‘Personal’ or ‘Professional’? My tweetstream is way too full of the former, which at times totally engulfs the latter. I try and keep the personal to DMs, which is what this little-used function is for. If people used DMs more often, the PLN tweetstream would be so much tidier, interesting and professional.

    I follow over 1,000 people and I use the generic “All Friends” column in TweetDeck. This means every tweet from everyone I follow pops up in my tweetstream. I want to see as much as I can from everyone I follow – else why follow them? It is usually the case the one worthwhile tweet from which I can learn is lost in a progression of pretty inane tweets from which I can’t – very annoying.

    The “Me-ness” of an incredibly high proportion of tweets means the tweetstream is often littered with total junk that I think is better suited to Facebook. For me, a PLN is about learning and sharing ideas, resources and links, etc. I too wish I didn’t have to learn about who’s waiting for what flight to where, who’s eating what, and who’s mayor of which silly website, etc. The list of this type of tweet is quite long. This junk devalues the PLN as a learning tool. Yes, I could unfollow people who do too much of this, and I do. I’m reluctant to because I’m hoping they’ll add something great.

    I also agree with you that the big names don’t exactly live up to their… big names, especially when you look at their minimal contribution to the Learning side of the PLN. A tiny, disappointing percentage of their tweets contain anything teachers or students can use in their teaching and learning lives. Too much posturing and inane comments. Come on guys, surely you have more professional things to contribute that properly befit a Professional Learning Network?

    So before I get too carried away, I will close by saying I am guilty of #1 on your list. I do think it’s OK to post something three times to cover different time zones. I’d want others to do this – there’s a lot I miss when sleeping or at work.

  5. ddeubel says:

    Sean (and everyone),

    Thanks for reading and I first off have to say (and should have said), I too am guilty of all the transgressions I list. I too have dirt on my hands. Just wanted with this post to a) maybe get some other teachers interested and tweeting b) give a sober second thought to how we use twitter. I guess my love/hate with twitter is because it does make me face stark naked the “MEness” that you described. A kind of mirror a la Dorian Gray.

    So Darren, I do understand and I guess it is all about judging a twitter user “in total” – by the whole of their contributions over time and not just by individual or momentary series of tweets.

    Greg/Sean – totally agree with DMs and should have mentioned this feature in my + category. Without it, twitter wouldn’t be the same.

    Shelly, you make a valid point and I should have been more clear about the post NOT being a moral, bible pounding, condemning yea sinners type of thing. You are right, the nice thing about twitter at the end of the day is you can unfollow and “to each his/her own”. I do respect and know there probably are, a lot of alternative “takes” and views on twitter. I know for a fact that my young nieces use it VERY differently than I do. And I think how I use twitter is different because I am a male. I know that sounds terribly sexist but I think there is a grain of truth in it. You use twitter in a more “chatty” and social way (but also for hard knowledge/help too – I know and am immensely grateful for that!)partly because you are female. Okay, I’m exaggerating but …….. I’d love to be able to breakdown my follow list by “male” / “female”. Might be shocking to me!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Brilliant blog! You made me think a lot about how I use Twitter, and others. You’re right about the major ELT writers, they are full of chit-chat and nothing else. They save the learning tips for their blogs. Yes, twitter is a love-hate thing…but very valuable, overall. IATEFL Poland.

  7. Thanks you for this post. I began building a PLN with Twitter over a year ago, and loved it. At present, I’m loving it a little less, largely due to the reasons you’ve pointed out.

    Of late, most annoying have been the incessant tweets regarding commenting on blog posts (their own or friends’). It’s resembling a desperate attempt to garner hits and comments on certain blogs. I’m wondering if folks are manipulating Twitter for career advancement purposes rather than collective PD? I wonder if that’s wrong?

    Things are feeling cliquish on my PLN. It’s as if there’s a select group of professionals who tweet and retweet nearly every minute of the day, ranging from the interesting to the petty. They practically monopolize the conversation.

    I spend most of my day instructing, planning, prepping, and using the scant remainder of my time with family. I simply don’t have that much time to tweet, and I can’t imagine how other teachers find the time to tweet so often. While I love integrating technology into my work and life, I’m resistant to being attached to it 24 x 7. That said, I tweet (share resources/ideas as often as possible.

    I wonder how much teaching is being done by those tweeting so much? I wonder if they’re losing credibility?

    I don’t care, nor have time to read about who’s meeting who for lunch, or what airport they’re planning to connect with each other in.

    I’ve even stopped participating in the Tuesday edchat. I haven’t found the discourse valuable, as 99% of the participants share exactly the same opinion regarding whatever topic is discussed. Typically, they begin strong, then devolve into something resembling a mob mentality. I understand the frustrations; I live through them with you. However, the intent of a professional conversation is to raise understanding. Of late, the edchats feel more like a collective rant.

    Lastly, there’s been a shift in the nature of tweets, from resource related links, ideas, etc to education reform policy. I’m all for conversations regarding ed reform. However, let’s not wallow in Fantasyland here. There are way too many declarations regarding filtering, teacher accountability, banning/allowing devises, pay, etc that are simply unreasonable. Schools will simply not adopt a number of these policy declarations for a number of reasons, some philosophical, many litigious.

    I wonder if the usefulness of this platform has peaked? I want something I can consistently count on to develop my teaching and students’ learning. I’m more uncertain than ever about Twitter’s capacity to sustain this.

    I want something that inspires creativity.

    I’m finding twitter to be less helpful in this regard. I’m reaching towards it less and less, and that’s feeling right.

    Again, thank you for a timely, and much needed post.

    @PJ_Vermont

  8. ddeubel says:

    Charles,

    You raise some important considerations and hit the nail on the head IMHO when you talk about “usefulness”.

    I know we all have our own limits, uses, reasons and I do respect that but like you — I feel twitter panders to the lowest common denominator of the ego and there is too much of “look at me and how I posted a comment here” etc… a kind of babble. Post and let others read if they want. I’m all against education becoming a fashion show. Twitter should be used for making connections with like minded people and sharing valuable things for our “teaching”.

    I too have been reevaluating my role on twitter. I’ve unfollowed a lot of people and tried to cut down on the “noise”. I guess like anything that seems so too good – it is! But I still think twitter has a role to play for the better, we just have to “think” a bit about how we use it.

    Thanks for your considerate post and ideas!

    David

  9. Russ Goerend says:

    @David
    Why the dismissive tone for anyone who questions what you deem the role of education?: “Twitter allows access to knowledge, dispersion of knowledge and information. THIS no matter what anyone tells you – is the role of education – ACCESS TO KNOWING/KNOWLEDGE.”

    The rest of your post makes sense when taken with the context you’ve set up for Twitter. Unfortunately, as you state later in the comments, you’ve decided your way is *the* way Twitter should be used. It really doesn’t matter whether I agree or disagree with what comes after, but I don’t think we should project our own uses of a tool onto others like this: “Twitter should be used for…”

    @Charles
    You said: “Of late, most annoying have been the incessant tweets regarding commenting on blog posts (their own or friends’). It’s resembling a desperate attempt to garner hits and comments on certain blogs.”

    Interestingly, I found this post from a tweet of yours, which had an unnecessary disclaimer about how you’ve never dialogued with David before. People tweet out links to posts they’ve commented on (or written) because they want to *continue the conversation.* What reason did you tweet a link to this post?

    What I find interesting both in David’s post and the subsequent comments is what feels like an attitude of a loss of control over one’s own Twitter feed. If you “don’t care, nor have time to read about who’s meeting who for lunch, or what airport they’re planning to connect with each other in.” then unfollow the people who are tweeting things you don’t want to read!

    I’m surprised you follow me, Charles. I’m not a tool-sharer. I’m mainly on Twitter for the conversation. One of the main ways I use Twitter is to tweet my students’ blog posts. It is “a desperate attempt to garner hits and comments on certain blogs.” I desperately want my students’ writing to be read and I’d love to get hits on our blog to show them that it is being read even when people aren’t commenting.

  10. Harold Shaw says:

    We in the EdTech world have hijacked Twitter which is a Free service to meet our unique needs (setting up so-called PLNs) and at times we forget that it is a social network that caters to a much larger world than just us and our perceived educational and professional needs.

    Twitter is what you make it to be by who you decide to follow and/or unfollow. It is still an evolving service and no one does or should tell others how to use it. If you want a strictly Professional Learning Network, start your own by using, Ning, some FOSS software or a Facebook page and setup the rules that all should follow and discuss there.

    I personally like to get to know some of the personal side of my Twitter friends, it make them real people, not just professional acquaintances. If I am not in the mood or have time to listen to them I don’t. We have the ability to make those choices. I choose to follow a relatively small number of people on Twitter, so that I can have those personal conversations if I so choose to do so.

    I guess it comes down to that I like about Twitter is that there are no such thing as the Twitter Police telling me what I can and can’t post. Twitter has a sort of freedom that is missing in many of our lives, so let’s maintain that freedom instead of discussing how negative that freedom is.

    If people don’t like what I talk about on Twitter don’t follow me, if I don’t like what you talk about I won’t follow you.

    Instead of complaining about what is discussed on Twitter we need to embrace the freedom that it gives us to have our PLNs and choices about what we discuss, even if at times it is irrelevant personal drivel.

    By the way I am looking out my back window at 2 mourning doves, a woodpecker & a blue jay its a great day in Maine.

    Respectfully,

    Harold Shaw, Jr.

  11. ddeubel says:

    Russ,

    Thanks for the comments.

    I’m sorry you think I was being “dismissive” by using caps to highlight how strongly I view this role. But no, it isn’t the only role of education, just one that I view as being primary and directing all others.

    I also LOVE twitter and I still, no matter how anyone uses it, want other teachers to use twitter. However, I have an opinion that twitter can become “clogged” very quickly when educators use it for too much chatter or constant ego bursting tweets about “this was commented on” etc… Once is enough. It should not be a billboard nor a gossip channel – IMO. I have a right to that opinion and that is what a blog is, an opinion. I have no problem saying “should”. Without it, nobody would make a blog post about anything.

    Using it to get others to read your own student’s work, I agree is a great use of twitter. But then again, it is all in how it is done. Again, I believe one tweet is enough.

    I also wish to say that both Charles and I and everyone on twitter – all at times fall into the “ego boosting” trap of posting about “x” who commented or retweeting our own tweets or chirping something anon that is just gossip. That’s life. But my post was just a way to keep myself in line more than anything. Twitter can be deadly – it is social networking “crack” and addictive.

  12. ddeubel says:

    Harold,

    A very reasonable/reasoned position. I totally agree with the “unfollow” if dissatisfied.

    However, I can see where down the road this “our way or the highway” can be a little ruinous. It is like telling someone – this is my classroom, if you don’t like it, get out. I’m not sure the analogy works but I hope you see how as twitter grows, it should be up to educators like ourselves to create a climate by which people post.

    But yeah, at bottom I am for the freedom and want no policing nor do I think anything is a question of morality or “right” or “wrong”. We all have different needs.

    I too like to know about the personal side of those I follow but it can become too too much. This has happened often and myself, I balance that persons “substantive” contribution against this and then continue following or unfollow. I guess I do have a personal quirk/difference, in that I really think “the personal” should be a direct reply or built on a social networking community. I don’t need to know someone knocked on your classroom door or your “rose” is chilled etc…. that’s me, my thought.

    I’m jealous. Outside my back office window sunlight is streaming in, along with all kinds of construction noise, dust, and a view of cranes and jackhammers. I’d like to say it too is “God’s country” but I just can’t…..

    David

  13. Russ,

    Thank you for your contribution.

    I tweeted a link to this post because it’s an interesting conversation. I’m delighted David had the courage to post his opinions regarding this matter. That said, I only tweeted the link once.

    Indeed, it’s reasonable to post links a few times. However, when the same link is posted nearly 10 times per day, and retweeted by a multitude of others the same amount for days, that feels like clutter. I’ve even read a “big name” member of our PLN tweet, “Last chance to comment on my post…”

    Regarding students, I shill for comments and hits on my students’ blogs also, and for the same reasons you do. My point about “desperate attempt…” is aimed at education professionals, not at kids. I apologize for not being clearer.

    My disclaimer was an unsuccessful attempt to point out that I have zero relationship with David. I’ve never met him, and this post is my first dialogue of any sort with him. I point this out because there are numerous members of our PLN who’d retweet a fart if they could for a friend.

    In response to your comment-“If you “don’t care, nor have time to read about who’s meeting who for lunch, or what airport they’re planning to connect with each other in.” then unfollow the people who are tweeting things you don’t want to read!”- is the exclamation point necessary? As you alluded to in one of your tweets regarding this post, isn’t this a conversation?

    I choose not to unfollow many of those whose tweets sometimes annoy me because they typically share something of educational value that I might find interesting. It doesn’t need to be, nor should it be, an all or nothing endeavor.

    Frankly, I don’t know know if you’re a “tool sharer” or not. I don’t really care. As I said, I’m all for conversations regarding ed reform, and all matters regarding our profession. I choose to follow you because we both teach sixth grade, have a keen interest in student blogging, and you often remark on professional matters of interest to me.

    I don’t see myself abandoning twitter. Like everyone, I’d like to see more teachers engage it. However, I’m concerned that if the clutter doesn’t clear a bit a number within our PLN will abandon it, and the prospects of attracting more teachers will prove even more challenging.

    Again, thank you for sharing your thinking. If interested, I’d welcome connecting our classes for blogging purposes, projects, and/or whatever might be of interest.

  14. Russ Goerend says:

    Exclamation points are like car horns: they all sound the same whether you want them to or not. Don’t read too much into mine.

    My point in all of this, if this were merely David’s venting about what he sees as a misuse of a tools, I probably wouldn’t have taken the time to comment. But it seems like a prescriptive How To for any educator using Twitter. There’s an air of “They’re not doing it right” that has (obviously) gotten under my skin.

    It’s one thing to say, “Some people retweet stuff too much and seem to be all about themselves and that’s annoying” and a whole other thing to say “Some people retweet stuff too much and seem to be all about themselves and they’re doing Twitter wrong.”

    I think Shelley completely nailed it in her first comment.

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