Lessons learned from a little blue bird

I’ll admit it, when my professor told me using Twitter would be mandatory for class I was more than hesitant. I’m always weary of “the latest social networking trend” because they all seem to come and go within a couple of years’ time. I remember Friendster being dropped like a hot potato when MySpace became all the rage, only for it in turn to be taken over by Facebook.

After a few tweets, I’m slowly beginning to understand the cultural phenomenon. I get to practice my French by following Le Monde, a large daily paper. Stephen Colbert pitches one-liners daily just for me (or at least I like to pretend) and I get airline news in case I want to book a last-minute deal to Puerto Rico, all in addition to the usual suspects that I follow via RSS feeds: NPR, CNN, the New York Times and PBS.

With that being said, tweeting live from an event is a completely different animal. This morning, when I was posting from the Winter Park Farmers Market, I realized that I am at a significant disadvantage when it comes to using my cell phone to tweet. I don’t have a cute mini keyboard. I don’t have an iPhone. In fact – here comes the shocker – I still have a pay-per-text  plan. I know, I am a dinosaur. Although texting isn’t new to me, I found myself standing in the way of others as I struggled to get just the right punctuation and capitalization. While I was worrying about the proper spelling of a street, I missed a perfect opportunity to tweet about this elderly man carrying a sack of kettlecorn under each arm.

I missed some quotes, I missed a lot of photos. I felt like an obnoxious pre-teen who texts their BFFs to get away from the family during a cross country road trip. I was ignoring my surroundings in an attempt to meet the requirements of an assignment.

And then, that’s when it hit me. I didn’t text for about an hour. I just walked, sat and listened. I took notes, I talked to strangers and I followed my familiar methods of reporting. I’m not sure how I will handle tweeting from an event that isn’t as laid back and carefree as a farmers market – I took an entire three hours.

It will take a bit of practice, and perhaps a different cell phone.


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