I’ve been struggling to come up with a smart analogy to capture what happened with me and Twitter on Tuesday night. Like: You labor lovingly over a strawberry patch only to have the rabbits eat every last ripe one. Not so good. How about: You say something hurtful to a friend and she won’t ever speak to you again. Bad. OK, well forget the forced metaphors. Here’s what actually happened:
I was trying to get rid of an old Twitter account which consisted of 5 posts back in 2008. When I started the deactivation process, Twitter asked me if I was ABSOLUTELY SURE that I wanted to delete this account. Twitter warned me that once I deactivated the account, there was no turning back. I would not be forgiven. I could never reclaim that Twitter username. I was fine with that. I didn’t want that username (kejord) and I didn’t want my picture next to that username whenever someone searched for me on Twitter. Bet you can see where this is headed: I hit the button, and permanently deleted, not just that old lame username, but my then current username, (kathy_jordan), my precious hard-won 158 followers, and my connection to the 105 people I was following. All gone.
It felt bad. Like death. My entire Twitter life flashed before my eyes. My first thought was ”I want to shoot myself for stupidity.” My second thought was to call my daughter, a champion Twitterer, who I knew would understand just how crappy I felt. My third thought was “OK. I can rebuild.” My fourth thought was “At least I have something to blog about.” And my fifth thought was “There is a lesson here, maybe even a lesson about creativity.”
Did I mention I had just bought 1000 business cards for $[redacted] with a now incorrect Twitter username?
So that night I set about replanting my strawberry garden beginning the rebuilding process. I signed up for Twitter anew. One tiny upside to my Twitastrophe was that I was magically able to set up a new account with my real name, (kathyjordan,) which had been hogged for years by someone who never even tweeted. So I guess the Twitter Nazis who killed my account also have a zero tolerance policy for inactive accounts. Or maybe that other Kathy Jordan accidentally deleted her account.
OK, moving on to the life lessons portion of this post:
I realized that, of the 150+ followers I had, (paltry as that number may seem to you Power Tweeters with your thousands of followers) only about a third were really good connections. And by good, I mean people with whom I shared common interests and could over time form rewarding connections. The other two thirds of my followers were a little random (e.g. the Malaysian video game developer) or people who clearly only wanted to sell stuff. I quickly realized that I could begin again with the 50 or so people on Twitter that I really cared about. Within two days, I was able to reconnect on Twitter with all of the people I actually cared about following. So for all of you who were patient with me and signed up again to follow me, my heartfelt thanks. One of the things I learned from this experience was that you can always rebuild. What you re-create will not be the same as you had before. But often it will be better.
I also discovered how incredibly wonderful some Twitter folks can be. Alice Langholt (@ReikiAwakening) in particular. Alice is a gifted Reiki Master and teacher who has a huge Twitter following, and more importantly is consistently generous and loving in her relationships in life and on Twitter. When I tweeted her about my situation, she immediately sent out this tweet:
Everyone! Follow my buddy @kathyjordan because she is a warm, caring, bright light on Twitter!
Thanks to Alice, some new folks did find me, and I look forward to deepening our connections. But that was not the important thing. What moved me was that there were people like Alice in this huge virtual community who would extend themselves for me without ever having met me in person. That says so much about the power of community, whether physical or virtual. I cried when I read Alice’s tweet. It made the loss of my old Twitterverse so much more bearable. And it made me want to rejoin that world as quickly as possible.
Finally, here is the link to creativity: I’m forgiving myself for doing another dumb thing, because when my inner critic is running the show, there’s no room for the experimenting that’s required for creative work. And I’m looking at myself with fresh eyes, recognizing the ego that was tied up in accumulating as many Twitter followers as possible. I now understand that for me at least, playing to the numbers is a waste of time. Seeking out genuine connections is what really matters, whether on Twitter or in life.
So I hope you’ll comment on what you’ve learned from being on Twitter, or from making non Twitter-related mistakes!