It’s embarrassing to admit now, but my entire Twitter experience started with John Mayer. In February of 2009 I signed up, and the first people I followed were @johncmayer and author @jenniferweiner. I didn’t know what to do or say, I didn’t know what an RT was or why I’d want to DM someone, but I learned quickly. Most of my first tweets were about how tired I was, having a 2 month old baby, a 2 year old, and a 4 year old. (Not much has changed since then, except the kids’ ages.)
I came to the #LRTweetup community in a very roundabout way. I found one of my favorite authors, @katherinecenter, and followed her. She made a “mention” of @kyranp’s blog, so I checked it out. I loved the way Kyran expressed herself, and the first picture I saw was of her three boys sporting Arkansas Razorback shirts. A writer blogger! In Arkansas! I followed her immediately. I boasted all of 3 followers by then, my mother-in-law and two cousins.
In August, @kyranp invited tweeps to a lunch at Ashley’s, to benefit Hospice Care. I jumped at the chance to leave Conway and share a meal with other women (who didn’t have kids nipping at their ankles). I shaved my legs, fixed my hair, put on a dress, and even borrowed jewelry for my fancy Little Rock lunch. I met the marvelous @kyranp in person, along with a gracious @amybhole, a poised @jenncobbpyron, a very funny @kerrijack (who made me feel better about myself, if just for one hour, by forgetting to line both of her eyes that morning), and a handful of other interesting ladies. By the time I got home, both @amybhole and @kerrijack were following me, and I discovered what a fun place Twitter could be, if you knew the right folks.
I still don’t know how I came to follow so many great Little Rock tweeps. I can only assume it’s because Amy and Kerri know everyone worth knowing, and I may or may not have latched onto them. Soon I was swimming in a twittersea of PR and marketing folks, geeks of all kinds, working mothers, and, in general, really awesome people.
An IRL friend of mine, @rpreslar, went to something called a “Tweetup” last summer at Copper Grill. She couldn’t stop talking about how fun it was, and what a good networking tool it could be, and how I should totally go with her next time. I declined, thinking I had no reason to network and that those people wouldn’t really have any need for me.
The year progressed and I fell harder for Twitter, and the tweeps I found there. As a stay-at-home mom, most of my daily interaction had been with short people who had terrible conversational skills, and who regularly pooped on themselves. Twitter opened up a whole new world for me; a way to communicate with real grown-ups, who talked about real things (even if those real things were sometimes euphemistic. Ice cream, anyone?), and who were within a virtual arm’s length all day long.
My husband never understood Twitter’s magic, and truthfully he still doesn’t. I tried to explain how cool it was that all of these professional and not-so-professional people had, one way or another, made contact with each other and had established relationships. People I would never have met otherwise were (or at least pretended to be) interested in what I had to say. I learned from these people. They entertained me. Tweeps from every manner of upbringing, religion, political view, career, and station of life had come together to vent about their jobs, their children, their spouses, the weather, their collective hate for Mondays, and the collective love of social media/networking.
This past February, one year after my first foray into the twittersphere, I gathered up enough nerve, and my husband, and went to a #LRTweetup at Capital Bar and Grill. I loved it. I was completely out of my comfort zone, but also felt completely at home. @Tsudo was so welcoming, and engaged my feeling-out-of-place husband. @akvalley knew me immediately saying, “You stay at home, with three kids right?” I listened in as @BeccaBuerkle, @KatieMcManners, and @monaspoeticwax gave a play-by-play of a blind date happening across the room. I decided that @sarabethjones and @bryanjones were my new favorite twittercouple. My husband and I had a kid-free date, on a weeknight no less, and got to meet marvelous people.
The very next month I hopped on board the #LRTweadup train and joined my very first book club. It became one more way to connect with a great group of people I might never have known otherwise. (And I got to talk books with lovely gals and eat some killer cheesecake-filled, chocolate-covered strawberries. I could not have asked for more.)
I feel like my circle of friends has grown by about 300, minus a few spambots and national companies. I feel like I am heard, even if I’m only talking about Adventures in Mommyhood. I feel less alone during the long days at home with the short people. I feel part of a real community; one that has grown not out of sameness or complacency, but out of a genuine want to know others and expand social horizons.
In the last year, I have made both virtual and in-real-life friends, I have prayed for others and asked for prayer, I have shared in the grief over loss of life, and I have shared in the joy of new beginnings. But mostly I have learned and laughed. And I am so grateful to be a small part of a larger community.