To Tweet or Not To Tweet? A Question of Public Persona
Who do I want to be on Twitter? Each time I tweet, I am putting an aspect of myself into the public sphere. Each time I delve into a new content area, part of me asks, ″Is this wise? Is this how you want to be perceived by strangers?″ My answer is a growing sense of ″Yes!″ I am embracing the complexity of ″me″ in a public way. And I think that is a good thing.
In The Beginning
I started exploring Twitter after a workshop on self-promotion for writers. I signed onto Twitter with the explicit purpose of finding people who might want to read what I write.
What I found was so much bigger and better than I expected. In particular, I found connections with individuals and organizations who engage with issues I care about but have no one in my offline life to dig deep with.
- I found writers whose work I admire talking about their process to turn words into a book.
- I found mothers of babies born too early and mothers of triplets.
- I found people who lead InterPlay and live inspired by its principles.
- I found #gtchat, a weekly conversation about gifted issues hosted by Deborah Mersino.
- I found Unitarian Universalists sharing writings by some of the theologians I studied with during my years at Starr King School for the Ministry.
All my life, I have struggled with issues of giftedness and theology. And both are areas in which I have been shunned or shamed for speaking openly. But, my life and work are infused with these elements of my personality. To write about what I find most important in this world, I have to engage these areas of myself.
If I refuse to participate in the #gtchat or Unitarian Universalist conversations because I don′t want to scare off potential readers, I am depriving myself of the opportunity to connect with people who will enrich my world. I am vulnerable when I expose myself, but without exposure, I cannot meet the people who will value those parts of me.
Phil Porter, co-founder of InterPlay, says life is like the contents of your kitchen drawers: some items are easily categorized silverware and the rest are miscellaneous useful gadgets: “Our experience is as specific and varied as the potato masher, the cheese slicer, the garlic press, and hundreds of other kitchen utensils that we can hardly identify by name or function. We are a delightful mystery, full of inexplicable surprises and the simplest of pleasures and pain.” (Phil Porter, An Invitation to Embodiment.)
I tweet because I am a writer, but I tweet as a person. If I only tweet about the easily categorized ″knives, forks, and spoons″ of my writing life, I am not bringing my whole self to the table. I want to bring my whole self to my writing, why should I not bring it to Twitter?
My answer is ″To Tweet″ and to trust. I trust that my full disclosure will not drive away too many people who would otherwise be drawn to my work and, that in being open, I will find the audience who wants or needs what only I can say.