Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tech Aunt Meets Her Match In Twitter

Probably a dozen Christmases ago, I went to Barnes & Noble bookstore to get gift cards as present for several then-tween nephews.  This was in the days when gift cards were just coming into fashion.

It was the day before my husband and I would travel "back East" to see family for Christmas, so I was in a rush.  When I got to Barnes & Noble, the computers that loaded the gift cards was down (there was a separate computer for this at that point, if I remember correctly), and they could only give me paper gift certificates.

I reluctantly got the paper certificates and gave them, but later joked with my siblings and their kids that I was like an old auntie with a cane and a creaky voice talking to the clerk, "What? You want to give me cards to give as gifts?  But they're only little children.  I want to give them  gift certificates so they can pick out their own books,  I tell you."

Today, I'm sometimes known as "tech aunt" as the most "techy" among my siblings (and I venture to just as much as my as some of my neices & nephews, and I haven't grown up with it like they have).  I've been blogging for five years, I'm active on Facebook and working on the learning curve for LinkedIn.  I use Apps on my iPhone all the time.  I have always thought of myself as decently plugged in, though not an early adopter.  More like a earlier adopter, once all the kinks are worked out, but still fairly ahead of the curve.

But I think I've met my match with Twitter.

I originally signed up for Twitter last year, thinking it could work alongside my Catholic Post Book Group blog, but never took the time to get active with it.  But when I mentioned at a Behold Conference volunteer meeting last month that I was getting ready to "live blog" the conference, one of the younger volunteers said, "You mean like Twitter?"

Hmm, like Twitter.  Guess it was time for me to revisit Twitter.

What I was actually expecting to do was figure out some way of mobile, short updates that I could blog on my phone so that I could send regular updates to the blog (one post), and people could either check in, or see it so that I could give regular updates throughout the conference.   I won't be writing the longer story that will appear in the print and online Catholic Post, so my "live blogging" was meant to give the impression of the day, quotes and so forth, not meant be a finished article.   But then I have noticed (stop laughing, all you techier-than-me people) for years that some people "tweet" their blog posts, or tweet and then an alert goes onto Facebook, their blog, etc.  And there's been various articles online and other places about "the death of blogs" and blogging, though I'm not really convinced of that, though I see some huge changes in recent years.  Twitter seems like a natural next step.

So I've spent some time looking into Twitter, both online, and in books from the library like  Twitter, Facebook, and Social Networks for Nice Aunties Who Give Gift Certificates.  And frankly, I can't seem to get it all together.  I get Twitter, I have a brand-new account (@ReadingCatholic) where I can tweet, I'm following a couple of dozen people so far.  I think I understand hashtags, but I'm going to use them for the first time today, so we'll see.  Like Facebook, it's an easy way to waste way too much time.  I just discovered TweetCatholic, and there went another 15-20 minutes of my life.  But I can't seem to get everything together--blog, Facebook, Twitter, and figure it all out mobile-ish.

And that's part of the problem for me, if it really is a problem.  I have just not taken what for me would be the amount of time necessary to get up to speed with this.

The reason?  My "offline" life has been really busy in both wonderful and not so wonderful ways in recent weeks. Like many families, we've had a lot of sick people and sick days.  Those take a lot out of a mom, at least this mom, in terms of caregiving, keeping up with schoolwork, etc.  On the good side, our oldest daughter confirmed in recent days, very emotional and very beautiful.  Also, I have been so happy to finally start running outside early and see the gorgeous sunrises, instead of the unappealing choice between pitch darkness or the treadmill.  And this may sound funny, but I've spent a lot of time in the last week teaching my children backgammon and having a blast with that.  I forgot how much I love backgammon (and lots of other games).

I was starting to feel fairly low about this and my abilities, when my dear and wonderful husband (who did not know the depth of my despair about Twitter) posted on his Facebook this article about self-compassion, and how it's good both for one's mood and for one's success.  That helped my thinking a lot.  Thank you!

The result of all this?  Like a creaky old auntie, I'll be covering the Behold Conference the old-fashioned way.   I'll have my fountain pen and parchment paper, and write short updates through the conference that I'll send by carrier pigeon to the Catholic Post offices, where they'll be sent out to all of you.

No actually, I'll have my clunky but wonderful laptop with me on Saturday.  When I want to "live blog"  I will walk over to the Five Points library down the hall from the conference (conveniently open during the conference), and do a quick update.  Those, I am hoping, will also go out on Twitter and Facebook.  I have added a "follow me on twitter" widget to the upper right corner of the blog, so go me!

If you are a techy and want to help me work out all these details, I'm all for it.  But I might just challenge you to a game of backgammon instead.

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