I recently decided to give Twitter another chance. Like any good little journalist trying to keep up with everyone else, I signed up for Twitter eons ago. I used it sparingly for a few weeks, then more or less abandoned it. It just didn’t seem very useful to me. Or very compelling, either. It just seemed…random. A bunch of random stuff just constantly streaming through. Every once in awhile, a friend would post something intriguing, but otherwise, I couldn’t figure out what people saw in it. I read an article in the New York Times by Matt Bai about visiting Washington DC and sending out a tweet to ask for help in finding a restaurant with a changing table for his infant daughter. At the time, I thought, “Hey, that could be really useful.” But I didn’t really understand either how it worked or that it did work. And so I gave up on it.
Well, like many things, I just had to learn how to use it. I decided to give it another shot, so I went in and set up queries so I could monitor various people and terms. Not long after I did this, the flood happened. (I feel like I should capitalize it now: the Flood.) Early that Sunday morning, I got on Twitter, searched for #Nashville and #Nashvilleflood and started monitoring the tweets that came through. So much information! It was a little overwhelming, but it was utterly compelling, too, even with some of the garbage that got through, too. (Eh, nothing’s perfect.) When we lost power and then 3G service, I felt completely cut off because I could no longer monitor the steady stream of info. We got out our hand-crank weather radio, which helped a little, but I really really missed my new best friend Twitter.
At any rate, once I got back online, I immediately went back to Twitter. I’m really glad that I did. I’m using it now to monitor some freelance topics, as well as the development in disaster recovery post-Flood. I’ve started following some friends with witty things to say, just for my own entertainment, and I’m following some writers whose stuff I like to read. I don’t know that I’ll ever be one of those people who’s always got something insightful or useful on Twitter on a minute-to-minute basis. But even so, at least I’m finding useful information for myself. And that’s way more than I was able to do a year ago.