Sense and Sensibility and Social Media

A lesson on social media etiquette came my way yesterday while I was participating in a Twitter chat for writers. It  starting me thinking about the many changes in sense and sensibility that I’ve adopted, almost unnoticed, since I stepped into the social media world.

Let’s start with yesterday. I’ve been actively researching how writers use Twitter for some time. Tomorrow evening, I’m giving a talk on Twitter for Writers to my local writers group, SouthWest Writers. As part of the preparation for that talk, I’ve joined the #writechat discussion on several Sunday afternoons. Everyone participating in the chat appends the #writechat hashtag to their tweets. The hashtag makes it possible for all the participants to follow the conversation. Sounds reasonable enough, right?

After I’d made several tweets during the chat, this tweet from briandigital came into the chat discussion. I know Brian, we’ve met in real life at some of the Albuquerque geek events. I wasn’t offended by his suggestion that my etiquette for Twitter chats needed rethinking. In essence, he said that prepending every tweet to a chat with an @reply would hide most of those tweets from my followers’ Twitter streams. This seems very sensible advice to me–many of my followers have no interest in writing as a field of study. The simple practice of @replying to another tweet in the #writechat Twitter stream would save many of my followers from a volley of tweets of no interest.

That simple change in etiquette, or sensibility, or consciousness–whatever you choose to call it–started me thinking about other changes social media has wrought in my life.

Much of what has changed for me is because of my work as a Contributing Editor at BlogHer. As part of that job, I have expanded my reading habits to include all sorts of blogs that go beyond the narrow focus on web design and development that formerly populated my RSS reader. My RSS subscription list has expanded. I follow people on Facebook and Twitter and Linked In that I might never have known existed. I learn from them. I now have a different view of politics, technology, gender, race relations, humor, accessibility, pop culture, books, social action, age, parenting, food, green living, and many other topics. Had I not reached out to discover new ideas and new writers on those topics, I would still hold my former limited view of the world.

It’s an expansion I cherish. It makes me a better person. I maintain a narrow focus here on Web Teacher, but my behind-the-scenes thinking has changed significantly.

The process advanced slowly. I didn’t think about it as life changing as each forward step landed. Brian’s small wake-up call on Twitter etiquette yesterday turned the light on the individual pixels to reveal a bigger picture.

What has your experience been?

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