Whoa Nelly! Stop this #chat, I wanna get off…

Thanks to Tweetdeck, I dream in columns. I think in 140 characters or less. I can’t remember what my friends’ voices sound like. I remember birthdays thanks to Facebook (and I save big $$ on cards!). I get texts from my kids asking if we’re out of milk -> from the kitchen -> to my office upstairs.

I love Twitter. Dig Facebook. Adore email. My iPhone is a prosthetic. But I think all this may be making me a little insensitive. Curt. Brusque. Impatient when a story, told live and in person, involves paragraphs.

Twitter #chats got me thinking about how we are adapting to online communication. Rapid fire insights at breakneck speed. To contribute, you have to think fast and act immediately. If you don’t respond briskly, the hour is over and you’re left sharing your nuggets with crickets. You’re rendered irrelevant. I don’t think at my best that way. I’m not sure who does … Gretzky? Earnhardt Jr.?ย  Federer? Tail gunners?

To be more specific, an exchange in a recent #chat grabbed me. A tweet was sharedย  suggesting that the #conversation was not really meaningful but was simply a collection of adages. (Of course, the intention was not to be disparaging.) It got me thinking that #chats aren’t conversations.

By definition, ‘chat’ is informal, unstructured, and casual.

#chats are not continuous streams of collective consciousness. My visual is a large party with little groups scattered about the room, discoursing on a general topic. No one is holding court; everyone has a chance to chime in. Those groups break up and people move into other exchanges that capture their interest. (My actual visual? A 16th century waltz … elegant people drifting effortlessly around a ballroom. Hey, I’m a romantic.)

I can attach a few @names to my response but, really, I am responding only to one person’s thought. Folks following the thread can jump in at any time (which is a fabulous thing about #chats. They have none of the inhibitions of a regular Twitter feed where, as a polite person, you would be loathe to intrude).

And, Whoa Nelly!

#chats can be intimidating. Especially when you’re new to one. All these clever tweets flying past and you’re trying to follow them plus add to the brilliance? For those as shy as I, it can be scary to dive right in. I’m definitely no tail gunner.

Retweeting is a great way to get involved; it’s like nodding to the person or saying “Yeah, that’s what I think, too” (just as you might do in real life). If, like me, you can fire just enough synapses to bestow a single articulate tweet, you’re involved. Lurking (which is a creepy euphemism for just chilling and watching the action) can be a boon. Watch the stream as it screams past, look for relevant tweets and consider following the people who posted them. You’re expanding your community, making connections, and garnering some wisdom. (I’m lurking in a #chat as I write this ~ and it’s brilliant.)

Cons? Follow too many at once and you’re throttled! ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  Psychologically, they can be overwhelming and you may leave feeling as though you didn’t contribute. But if you attended, you contributed. You’ll take what you’ve learned, think about it, use it, and share it with your peeps. You’re spreading #chatlove!

Ultimately, real connections happen one-on-one. A fantastic way to get to that ‘one-on-one’ is through a Twitter #chat. It’s only the first time once. As you re-visit, you’ll become comfortable pitching in and know that everyone is there to help each other.
Lurk, listen, learn, and leverage. (Bonus? You can do it in your pajamas!)
My favourite #chats are #BlogChat, #LeadershipChat, #SpeakChat, #ADadsPOV, and I’m discovering more favourites every day. Here is a list of chats where you might find yours.

Big ups and many thanks to @Nicholas_Cardot and @MackCollier for helping my synapses fire.

What are your favourite #chats? (And if you haven’t any yet – where will you #chat?)

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10 Responses to Whoa Nelly! Stop this #chat, I wanna get off…

  1. Barry Birkett says:

    Dead center of the target with this post! I am just getting into the blur of some chats and seeing and feeling what you describe. While I feel welcome (except 1), I realize the relationships between many of the participants have developed over time. It is a truly great environment, stimulating, educational — and exhausting!

    • tobeydeys says:

      Hey Barry, you make a great point – about the relationships developing. This is so true and I found that the first few times I went to #chats, I felt like the ‘new kid’ (awkward! ;-)) But that awkwardness definitely eases over time and, as you know, as you start developing relationships and a ‘presence’. (Exhausting nails it LOL).

      Thank you so much for reading and for your comment – I really appreciate it!

  2. Candice says:

    Love the Twitter Chat schedule! I’m addicted to my #webserieschat on Wednesdays and am looking for another #chat to join. I have lots of options… way more than I thought I did.


    • tobeydeys says:

      Hey Candice – tea time again soon?
      Thanks for your thoughts and I hope the #chat list will help you find more ‘addictions’!

      Great to ‘see’ you and thanks tons for reading and for your comment ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. great post! #SnapChat You are fantastic with words! I love reading everything you write ๐Ÿ™‚ I feel like a stalker hanging on every word LOL
    I am still trying to get used to #chat my stream of @replies is exactly like a chat all day long every day… I need to hire you to maintain.
    I can’t believe you just started. You rock!

    • tobeydeys says:

      Jessica – any #chat you are involved in would immediately become #blogchat + infinity! Thank you for your kind words and your support – I’m honoured ๐Ÿ™‚
      #chats are tons of fun – I learn a lot, laugh a bunch and meet so many cool people. (and if you ever need anything? … you know where to find me!)

      Thanks so much, darlin’

  4. Dan Newman says:

    As an avid participant in many of these chats you speak of, I know exactly what you are saying.
    Chat’s aren’t really chat’s at all, they are a flow of consciousness and at times a battle of egos.
    Thanks for your creativity and for taking on this subject. Now, can we get this on Video?

    • tobeydeys says:

      Daniel – I break into a cold sweat hitting ‘Publish’ … so I don’t think I would give good vid ๐Ÿ˜‰

      It is interesting that you mention ‘battle of egos’. #Chats certainly can deteriorate to that (or particular participants parry & thrust to suit their own agenda). At the few chats in which I’ve become involved, grand-standers seem to burn brightly for a bit then fizzle (or perhaps I just stop paying attention to them? :-)) I think that kind of thing happens when people stop ‘listening’ and push only their own thoughts. I am starting to love #chats – such a great opportunity to learn (especially at a recent Rockstar-hosted #CXO chat!)

      Thank you so much for reading and for your comment, my friend!

  5. Thank you for a great post.

  6. Pingback: Country Music is all aTwitter about #CMChat | Tobey Deys

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