Today’s guest post comes from Liz Finkelstein, a Twitter user and engaged community member. This is her story about she harnessed the power of a social network.
As I was getting ready to put my house in New York on the market so I would be able to move to the Charlottesville area, I suddenly felt panicky about the fact that I knew hardly
anyone there. I had met a few of my new neighbors, but outside of that I knew nobody. This was a bit frightening for me. I had grown up and lived in the same five mile radius for almost all of my life. This move was going to be monumental, psychologically speaking.
Coincidentally, about this same time, I had been hearing a lot of talk about Twitter. It didn’t sound all that interesting to me, but there was SO much talk about it that I began to wonder what the big deal was. I began to poke around Twitter and started, as most folks do, following a couple of celebrities. It wasn’t all that interesting (the celebrities), but I found the vehicle of Twitter pretty fascinating. Trying to get your point across in 140 characters was a word game which appealed to me.
As the date of my move approached it suddenly dawned on me that I knew nobody in Charlottesville. I had spent the last 50 years in the same place and ran into folks that had known me since I was baby on a regular basis. Everyone was familiar to me. The cashiers at the supermarket, the tellers at the bank, the teachers and administrators at the schools, the families who had spent generations in the same locale. I was about to step into space without a net by moving 350 miles away. Whatever was I thinking?
And so, one night while I was reading my Twitter feed I played around with the search feature and found residents of C’ville who were chatting on Twitter. I followed the feeds for a bit and began to get to know the Twitterers. Well, I began to get a sense of their personalities, at least. And, I liked them! I gravitated toward the people with a great sense of humor and I uncovered an interesting range of individuals who were great writers and had a great sense of fun! I began to follow those who made me laugh and gradually began to interject myself into their conversations and daily comings and goings online.
A YEAR later, (selling my house in NY turned out to take SO much longer than I anticipated) I had grown quite fond of many of the people whose lives I read about on a daily basis in my Twitter feed and when I moved myself and my husband into our new home, not only did I have a house and view that was beyond my dreams, but I had stepped into a community that welcomed me with a smile as a friend instead of a stranger. Having spent so long chatting with me on Twitter made me a familiar soul and I didn’t need to start from “scratch” in making my way into the community. In my first months in town I had already had a group of people who smiled at me when they saw me approaching – and that makes a really big difference when you are new. Instead of feeling alone I felt like I was home.
I never anticipated how important Twitter would become in my life, but I am certainly glad I stumbled into it and explored. Hooray for Twitter!