Why I started
I started blogging and using Twitter more or less at the same time. The reason I started blogging was just to learn a bit more about WordPress as I’d been doing some voluntary work using other Content Management Systems and thought WordPress might come in handy.
As I wrote recently, my blog has become a bit more than that for me. It’s helped me to notice the good and bad things that have been happening in my life. It’s provided me with a place to vent sometimes and it’s given me perspective to realise how things have changed over the past year.
Twitter was just an aside to give me somewhere to tell people about my blog. I chose it over Facebook as I’d never used Twitter and as I blog semi-anonymously I didn’t want my personal Facebook page to somehow become entangled with the one for my blog.
Lack of focus
Twitter’s been just as good, if not better, for me than blogging. As you probably know, I have an illness known as M.E. This means my energy levels can be pretty low at times. No-one seems to fully understand the cause either so getting 100% better again can be very hit and miss to say the least.
Having this illness can be very isolating. I haven’t worked full-time since the end of 2007 and although I’ve somehow managed to do lots of things with my time, like planning a wedding, doing voluntary work and going back to university, there are periods like right now where I don’t have anything specific to focus on.
Yes, there’s been the house move and now there’s the unpacking and throwing junk away to be getting on with. That’s quite hard going when you don’t have much sustainable energy but it also doesn’t fill me with a real sense of purpose, excitement or belonging.
Going back to university gave me a focus, intellectual stimulation, occasional interaction with others and was something that I enjoyed. I’ve not really found that again since.
Because of the isolation I went looking for other people in my area who also have M.E. I didn’t and still don’t want to join a support group because that sounds like too much focus on illness for my liking but I did became good friends with a neighbour who also has M.E and who I probably would never have met otherwise.
And then out of the blue, in the midst of going about my daily life and also learning about blogging, I realised I’d inadvertently formed a new network on Twitter, which, I guess is what social networking is all about but it still took me by surprise a bit.
For some people, Twitter is purely a marketing tool for a business. Others use it to stay in contact with family and face-to-face friends. In my quest to start a blog and learn about how all of that works, I was surprised to find myself within a community.
I follow quite a lot of people on Twitter. Strangely, there are some I never ‘tweet’ to and they never ‘tweet’ to me but we’re both seemingly happy to see what the other has to say. There are also some feeds that I follow for information about things that are happening nearby – what’s happening at my favourite tea shop, what free/interesting things are going on in London, lectures I might want to go to and galleries I might want to visit.
However, the most surprising and the best thing really to come out of my Twitter life so far are the friends I seem to have made without even realising it was happening. People who’ve had similar experiences to me or share my interests. People who take the time to read this blog and even comment sometimes. Some who’ve never even looked at my blog but happily tweet along beside me anyway. People living in the same city as me and others in other parts of the country and the world.
The introvert’s social network
I’m not what anyone would describe as an extrovert by any means. I’m a shy person, very introverted and have always been quite selective in my choices of close friends. I don’t find it easy to talk to random strangers and so I guess that means I’ve always isolated myself in a way just because of my nature.
Not having a job with colleagues to chat to and make connections with has meant that over the past few years I’ve felt quite alone at times and I suppose what I didn’t expect was for the thing that would change that to be Twitter. For it to stop me from going completely crazy and give me some social contact, which has been most valuable to me when I’ve not been able to talk to anyone face to face or when I’ve been having difficulties that I needed to talk about.
I’ve made connections with people who have shown me concern, encouragement, understanding, who have helped me in practical ways sometimes, gossiped with me, bitched with me on occasion, made me laugh and taught me a lot too. Twitter, the social network I’d always avoided as being pointless and silly has become my favourite social network, one that’s really good for me and has given this introvert a valuable way of connecting.