The Power of Connection in the Twitterverse #IMMOOC

It was time to stop fearing Twitter.

Roughly 7 years ago, my husband encouraged me to join Twitter. He said it would be a great way for me to connect with others who shared my interests. At the time, I was a 7th grade English teacher. I couldn’t fathom what Twitter was going to offer me that I couldn’t read in a professional book, but I thought I would give it a shot.

So, I started a locked account. Because like many teachers, I feared that my students would find me or even their parents would find me. Was I posting anything crazy controversial? Of course not, but I was afraid. So, I browsed a bit here and there, but I didn’t do much with it. And there it sat. For years. No joke, at least 5 years went by and Twitter sat quietly on an app on my phone.

And then, in a new role in a new district, I met Cary Harrod. She started telling me about how most of her professional learning came from her network on Twitter. She said that Twitter was THE place where she found new ideas and resources and made new connections with people who believed what she believed. She seemed strengthened and almost vindicated by this power of connection. It was everything Mario had told me Twitter could be and more. Seeing that I was overwhelmed, Cary also shared tools like Twitter Tweetdeck which allowed me to easily follow hashtags of interest. She challenged me to unlock my account and open my heart up to the Twitterverse, so I could truly connect with other educators.

So, I did. I unlocked my account a couple of years ago. But you know what, I was still scared. So, I did a lot of lurking. And that’s OK. And I did a lot of “liking” what other people had to say. And that’s OK. And then I started posting a positive quote a day because it felt good, and I thought maybe it would make other people feel good too. And strangely, some people started following me. This helped me realize that other people needed a little more hope and love in their days too, so I kept posting quotes. Sometimes, more than one a day. I know, right? Rebel! Livin’ on the wild side.

However, with every post, I got a little braver. I got a little more comfortable with sharing my heart and my beliefs on Twitter. I started to feel empowered. I started to believe that my voice really did matter and that I could make a difference. And about a year ago, my friend, Christine McCormick, presented me with a new challenge: to write a blog post. What? More words? More vulnerability? Share more than 140 characters at a time with someone? I didn’t feel ready. However, she continued to nudge me, and I continued to think about it.

Then, I took a trip to Disney World, and as you would expect, it was MAGICAL. It had me wondering, “How can I put some of this sparkle and magic back into the world?” And beyond that I started to wonder, “How can I inspire others to CREATE this kind of magic every day?” And so, a blog post was born. My first ever. And boy, did I agonize over that thing. Pushing “publish” on it was the birth of something a little scary but also exhilarating. I posted it on Twitter. And then, I waited. And for hours, only a slow clap on Twitter. No applause. Only a few likes and maybe a retweet. Did this mean that what I wrote didn’t have merit? Was the writing garbage?

And then I asked myself the most important question of all, “Did any of that matter?” And I was liberated. It didn’t matter. I wrote that post because I wanted to write it. Because it came from my gut. I wrote it for the sheer joy of writing about something that had the potential to make the world even just a little better. I wrote it because I like to write. The end.

I became bolstered by this small act of bravery. I started to wonder what other things I could do that gave me purpose, made me feel connected, made me feel brave. So, I started writing a few more posts. I even gave a talk at a conference which let me just tell you, TERRIFIED me.

My posts and talks aren’t perfect, but you know what? I don’t care. Because I feel alive in my doing of the things.

And here is where it gets interesting. I’ve spent almost four years in a central office role feeling disconnected. Feeling like people don’t know how much I really care about them. You see, people call our central office the “ivory tower” and “the white house” not only because we used to work in a white building but because they think we are out of touch and not in care and concern with them over things that really matter. And many times, our actions don’t help our cause. Many times our actions seem to support their thinking. People often don’t see us as working WITH them on the real work.

But TWITTER has started to change my conversations and level of connection at work. Who would have thought? We hear so many stories about technology creating disconnection and here, Twitter has brought me closer to people in our organization. People who I don’t see every day feel connected to me, and I feel connected to them. We feel like we know each other a little more as a result of what we post, like, retweet on Twitter. It’s fascinating. People are inviting me to conversations because they see that I care about the things that they care about. I’m invited to the table in ways that I never thought possible a year ago. In a large part, because of the power of connection on Twitter.

Twitter is revolutionizing my work experience. I feel more connected to people than ever before. I’m happier and more satisfied in my job than I’ve ever been before. I feel hope for the future. I feel like I have a voice. I feel like my voice matters. And I see that other voices matter because I’m evolving, growing, changing as a result of these beautiful voices.

So, thank you, Mario, for introducing me to Twitter. Thank you, Cary, for helping me see what Twitter can do for me as a person and professional. Thank you, Christine, for believing in my voice and encouraging me to share it with others.

It’s not Twitter that is magic. It’s our connection to one another on Twitter.

Connection is magic.

And Twitter is a powerful vessel of connection if we choose for it to be.

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