The Learning Librarian

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Twitter Adventures, Part 1 and 2

on February 19, 2013

This might sound silly, but I was really excited that Twitter was one of the suggested technologies to explore for this blog project.

I’ll admit, I’ve actually been fairly anti-Twitter in the past. My thought process has always been, “if I have something to say, I’ll just say it on Facebook. Why would I need to say it twice?”

I tend to be extremely affected by the “information sickness” discussed in Marilyn Johnson’s “This Book is Overdue.” As much as I love new technology, it often overwhelms me. Information overload. Opportunity overload. I don’t want to blog on one website, give short thoughts on another, and post pictures on another. I want one site, one central location, where I can do everything. Who has time to check all of these various technologies every day while still eating, breathing, sleeping and tending to other life responsibilities? While I think technology is awesome, I also enjoy going outside.

Then, I realized famous people use Twitter. And I like famous people. So sue me.

I also realized that I just might have things to say that I’d like to say in Twitter’s quick-and-easy format. Things I might not necessarily want to share with my 785 Facebook friends. Things I might want to keep fairly anonymous, but public, if that makes any sense.

If you want specifics, I recently learned that I’m a Highly Sensitive Person (More info: http://www.hsperson.com/ and/or http://denmarkguy.hubpages.com/hub/hsp) which generally means that I’m naturally wired to be more easily overwhelmed than others. It means a lot of other things, too. Things that have given me anxiety for years have finally been explained by learning more about this genetic trait, and I’m relieved, but I’m working on how to use it to my advantage in my career/life. And I want to share that with others. Just not necessarily people I know.

Before this assignment came along, I started thinking how now might be a good time to stop being so anti-Twitter for the aforementioned reason. Also, I thought it could be a great platform to post my ‘librarian’ thoughts and follow libraries, librarians and children’s authors I admire. So yesterday, I made an account: https://twitter.com/_AnxiouslyA_

Today, it’s been suspended for no apparent reason, and my Twitter adventure as we know it is over. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

My excitement was palpable as I created my account. As a testament to my excitement, I was late for dinner with a friend because of it and I’m NEVER late for dinner, ever. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to set up and get started with. Twitter offered me suggestions on whom to follow, helpful hints for common problems, and brief tutorials on hashtags and retweets and anything else I could possibly want to know. Within minutes, I was following dozens of people, had tweeted a few times myself, and was basically addicted. Admittedly, I spent the better part of my Saturday night reading tweets, retweeting, finding more interesting people to follow, and reading all that I could about the website. The only thing I found confusing was when tweets came up on my home page from folks I hadn’t followed/had no idea who they were – but I discovered, these were tweets that had been retweeted by people I did follow. I’m not sure how I feel about that – while I think the idea of retweeting is great, I really only want to see words from the people I’m following – hence why I’m following them and not the complete strangers they follow.

After a night of dreams filled with little birdies and “@” symbols, I woke up this morning, logged on, and was met with a little yellow bar at the top of the page that read “Your account has been suspended. For more information, see Suspended Accounts.”

Insert minor (okay, major) panic attack here. Seriously? I just joined yesterday; how could I have done something wrong already? I had a thought this morning – how was I going to share it with the world? What would my 10 followers think?!

I immediately sent in a formal “help! What’s going on?” email and was relieved to get the following immediate response:

Hello,

We understand that you’re contesting an account suspension. Please be sure to read this entire email.

Twitter suspends accounts for a variety of reasons. Your account was suspended because it appears you may be managing a number of Twitter accounts. Creating serial or bulk accounts with overlapping uses is a violation of the Twitter Rules; as a result, all of the accounts created have been suspended pending more information being provided.

Please respond with the following information in only one ticket:

a) a list of the accounts that you have created and which of these you would like to have reinstated, andb) your planned use for the accounts.

The Twitter Rules can be found here: http://support.twitter.com/articles/18311

Thanks,

Twitter Support

I wrote back and told them that the only Twitter account I use is the one I JUST CREATED. (But I said that nicely. I think.) There is a chance I may have created an account years ago, just out of curiosity, that I never actually used. But c’mon – really?

After spending the morning researching account suspension, it seems I could be in trouble here. Many people have blog posts where they angrily discuss being suspended and having to wait upwards of 2 weeks to be reinstated. And even after receiving “woohoo, you’re back!” emails, said reinstatement doesn’t actually happen. This is kind of ridiculous. I bet it never happens to the famous people. Also, Twitter doesn’t seem to have a phone number for customer support. You simply have to email your request – and wait. And wait, and wait, and wait. I can’t believe I only started this last night and I’m this upset over it. I feel like a coffee addict who’s just been told from now on there is only decaf left in the world.

Last night, I was planning to blog about my Twitter experience in an extremely positive way. This is an AMAZING tool for students, I was going to tell you. I already started planning Future Library Lessons in my head. Students could set up a Twitter account and tweet thoughts of a particular character as they read a book, and the teacher/librarian could use that to monitor comprehension. They could tweet responses to blogs, articles, anything. They could respond to tweeted challenges by their librarians – questions like “who can find the best picture of a sunset?” or “if you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?” They could tweet “classroom news” to their parents and communities. They could find differing opinions on a given topic and compare/contrast them by bringing in additional sources to prove/counter the points. The possibilities – I thought – were endless, and exciting. But now I’m not so sure. I would never ask students to put massive amounts of effort into a project that could be instantly taken away for no reason. I am conscientious to the core – a real rule-follower who would NEVER intentionally do something wrong. And the fact that my Twitter is now unavailable to me – and was taken away in such a harsh, quick way without even a warning- is both frustrating and disheartening. Granted, I was only up to 10 followers so far, but still – I put a lot of time into what I wrote, read and followed, and I was looking forward to the possibility of helping others like me in the process of self-discovery.

I still think Twitter is great in theory. When working properly, students would have access to all kinds of opinions and thoughts, and it would be a wonderful exercise for them in discerning fact from opinion. It would be the ultimate test of students’ ability to sort through all of the information available in order to select what is most valid and valuable. Students would be able to explore different points of view on various topics, and even the most reluctant readers would be engaged, as tweets are so quick and easy.

I end this post with a heavy heart and a brain full of brilliant, witty quips that will likely never be written. Not to be depressing or anything. But c’mon, Twitter – really? Also, ppppplllllleeeeeaaaasssseeeeee let me come back????

 

UPDATE!

After the disheartening reality that my new hobby was no more, I was disappointed. But then I had a sneaky, devious thought: I could create a new account under a different e-mail address. I am such a rebel it’s ridiculous.

I tossed the idea around for awhile before succumbing to it. After all, I didn’t want to get in trouble again. (I’m actually a terrible rebel.) But I just wanted to be on Twitter. Is that so wrong? Also, I visited the link Twitter sent me to check in on the progress of my “ticket” (aka complaint…) The link informed me that it was “closed”, but I hadn’t received any kind of email describing said closure. So while it was very much still open in my mind, the Twitter people didn’t seem to agree.

So, I made a new account, which can be found here: https://twitter.com/_AnxiousA_

I’m up to almost 90 followers! And I’m following librarians, teachers, children’s writers (and yes, celebrities. Can’t help myself.) So I really hope Twitter doesn’t kick me out again. I have good intentions, people. I’m really not some crazy spammer advertiser person.

The funny thing is that I finally did get an email back from a person when I least expected it, and it was only about 3 weeks after the initial problem. It said:

Hello,

Twitter has automated systems that find and remove multiple automated spam accounts in bulk. Unfortunately, it looks like your account got caught up in one of these spam groups by mistake.

I’ve restored your account; sorry for the inconvenience.

Please note that it may take an hour or so for your follower and following numbers to return to normal.

Confusing. I promptly deleted the account that the person had just restored, not wanting to get in trouble for the same “multiple account” crime that, this time, I would actually be guilty of.

I do appreciate that someone got back to me, and I guess three weeks isn’t so long to wait in the swing of things. But it would be nice if they had a customer service phone number you could call, like Comcast or Apple or any of those places that have frequent issues. I guess they’re not so concerned that a handful of people amongst millions might be dissatisfied, which makes sense from a business standpoint but isn’t so nice on a personal level. If I ran a big company, I would want everyone to be pleased with it and get their problems handled in a timely, efficient manner. But maybe that’s just me.

Since I’ve had more time now to explore Twitter, I can now confidently say that I think it’s a good resource for students, though I wouldn’t want them to get too emotionally invested in it. Many of the librarians and authors I follow post links to professional articles, book reviews and resources that would be extremely beneficial for students doing research projects. I also like how easy it is to connect with people – a student could easily reach out to a popular author and ask a question about his/her book. Students would also have access to the latest news and information. I would want my students to use it, but I wouldn’t want them to let it take over their lives. As I learned the hard way, being on Twitter is NOT worth being late to dinner.

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