Anxiety in 140 Characters!

I need to stress that this post is not an attempt to discredit the value of Twitter as a social platform for sharing information. On the contrary, I believe it to be one of the most disruptive and powerful social platforms yet invented. Just ask our current President.

My first anxiety over Twitter stems from my past perception of retweets. To me, they were kinda like the first book report I wrote in college. With great anticipation of receiving a “Job well done”, I read with horror the professor’s actual remarks. Written on my cover page in bright-red ink right next to a gigantic-bright-red-attention-grabbing ‘D’ were the words:

“Mr. Ostbo, if I wanted to know what the author thought of her own hypothesis, I would have read the book myself. The assignment was to hear from you, what YOU thought of the author’s proposition! How did it affect YOU, Mr. Ostbo? Did YOU agree or disagree and, most importantly, WHY?”

So, early on in my brief Twitter career, after receiving my thousandth tweet of a retweet, I decided that I was only going to post to social platforms when I could share what I actually thought about what I actually read or actually experienced. But then, I realized I couldn’t figure out how to do that in only 140 characters.

Enter anxiety #2.

I must admit that anyone who knows me well knows that it’s just not possible for me to share what I think about_ anything _in only 140 characters. I can’t even introduce myself in 140 characters!

That was until a recent speaking engagement where I led a workshop titled, “3 Astounding Ways Social Media Is Impacting Your Business, Whether You Like It Or Not!” Now, you would think a guy speaking on this particular subject matter would be active on Twitter, and that’s exactly what many of the other presenters and audience members thought as they live-tweeted several of my comments.

The following day, just before my keynote speech, one of the attendees asked me why I had not shared anything about the previous day’s events on Twitter. She had taken my lack of tweeting to mean I had not seen what she had tweeted about my workshop, and the disappointment on her face was telling. I told her that she would see tweets from the event that very day on our KO company page, but not on my personal page. She seemed perfectly happy to accept my response.

But, I wasn’t perfectly happy to accept it. So, I set out to find a resolution to my problem.

After Googling “fear of Twitter” and “fear of retweeting” (yes, I really did) I learned that my fear of retweeting was really an internal desire to “create” my own content – to say what was on my mind. And, even more importantly, I learned that retweeting another’s tweet is actually an opportunity to “curate” content – to gather information relevant to a topic that interests me and share it.

Anxiety #1 overcome. Now to work on #2.

By the way, it took a few more attempts at writing acceptable book reports that first college semester. But one glorious day, staring at me from the cover page of my latest report, right next to a gorgeous-bright-red ‘B’ were the words,

“Finally, Mr. Ostbo, an original thought.”



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