I have a confession to make:
If I knew ahead of time that I’d need to make a Twitter account to participate in digPINS, I probably wouldn’t have signed up for the session.
I did have an account once, back in college – I think I used it to post updates on my life in a way that felt somewhat voyeuristic – imaging that people who weren’t friends with me on the newly forming Facebook could get a glimpse into what I was doing. During a social media purge a handful of years ago, I deleted it. It was long since inactive, and didn’t age well.
I never viewed Twitter as something I needed to use. I knew one of my educator friends was very active on it, and used it to connect with others in his field and discuss pedagogy – but I knew this because I also saw it on his Facebook. Twitter has always felt redundant to me. Why do I need multiple platforms to share the same thing? If I make a post on Instagram, why do I need to send a link of it to Twitter? If I make a post on Twitter, why send a link to Facebook? If there has to be this much post overlap between platforms, none of them are doing their job well. At least with Facebook, I can dial-in my audience. On Instagram, my focus is showing art and occasional glimpses of my life through images. What’s Twitter for? Typing updates to groups of people you don’t know (or who already connect with you on different platforms) while having to leave out some vowels so you make a character limit? It doesn’t help that Twitter is best known as Trump’s favorite place to have temper tantrums. The external image isn’t exactly making me feel like I’m missing out.
But, wanting to give digPINS a fair chance, I made an account. I followed who it was suggested I follow, and I started looking for other things and people I’m interested in. Now, I think I was primed a bit for what happened next, as the pandemic has seen me join some Facebook groups that revolve around teaching art and photography remotely, as well as groups based in the specific types of art I’m most interested in. I was starting to see posts that resonated with me, from people I didn’t know – starting to see how this kind of networking could be a good thing. So, now, faced with who to follow on Twitter, I had a realization: I could follow people whose work I like, that maybe have work that isn’t entirely visual. Instead of only half-remembering the name of the guy making all the Touch Designer tutorials and other interesting blog posts (that I remember exist once every month or two), I could find and follow him on Twitter. And, as an added bonus, it seems this is way less creepy than it would be to, say, find and add him on Facebook. I think I may have figured out the point of Twitter.
I can tell building this PLN will take time, largely because it will take me remembering people to add, or that I have a Twitter now and CAN add people – but I think the benefits of even just lurking in the network might be greater than I expected. It’s got me excited to dig a bit deeper into Twitter, and see what’s going on in this realm of social networking.