Happy 5th Birthday Twitter – You Changed My Life

Dear @Twitter,

I so totally know how this sounds to write to a service, but I must confess: your little wings have changed the trajectory of my life and – for the most part – I think it’s been for the best.

I’ve been around for over 40 years, have seen many things, met all sorts of people and have – mostly – enjoyed my life. But I think every several hundred years, a tiny and almost insignificant tool comes out of nowhere and changes the world – like the wheel and zero, both of which are truly “nothing” (both are each shaped the same way). And yet the each not only changed the course of civilizations but also created them.

My son was born just before Twitter and in the last several years, my whole world-view has changed. Twitter has helped me to connect with people I *never* would have met without it. Twitter has launched me into totally different career-directions (plural) and I still don’t know where I’ll be next month because there are so many opportunities before us in today’s world. Twitter has rewired my brain, I’m sure of it.

Years ago I tried – hopelessly – to explain to people what Twitter was. I tried to convince doctors and nurses that Twitter could help them professionally by delivering relevant content and by connecting them with colleagues. But it was in vain.

It was not too long ago that it was unimaginable that doctors and nurses would be chatting in 140 characters like they do on @RNchat and @MD_chat.

I feel a bit better now that Twitter has hundreds of millions of users and is growing. I don’t know if Twitter Inc. will last, but the premise of Twitter is here to stay: the tweet is now a fundamental unit of communication in the 21st Century. It’s how we’ll connect (or disconnect) and it’s going to be the way millions of machines will follow each other and communicate and create an almost unimaginable world.

Only five years ago, nobody thought that the world would communicate publicly within 140 characters. Yes, people were text messaging – but that was between two people privately. To do so openly, globally and instantly was not even a thought.

Twitter has revealed a social construct that has been within us for a hundred thousand years which we never even knew existed.

Twitter is now a propellent for technological evolution. It’s a technology-spurring technology shifting the course of the human journey and there’s nothing we can do now to stop its curving of cultural space-time.

Twitter – and her sister-media – are so historic that there will be no history books written about them. For they are displacing the kinds of books you and I grew to know. That’s not even a claim-to-fame Guttenberg’s moveable type can make.

Am I a nut? Yes. Am I a nut to believe that Twitter is as big a deal as I think it is? Yes, perhaps – but I don’t think I’m the only one. All I can say is: Twitter, you’ve changed my life – for good or ill.

I wish I could list all of the wonderful people I’ve met via Twitter. It pains me to not mention all. But I would like to go on the public record about the people I can say I’m eternally grateful to you Twitter because without you I’d never find them:

  • @EdBennett – Thank you, Ed – you’re always doing the right thing
  • @KentBottles – Kent, you’re definitely helping to bring physicians into the 21st Century
  • @EricaHolt – Erica, you’re definitely my kind of Belgian-beer drinking buddy – you’re one smart cookie and the world needs to hear more about your views on today’s sparkly technology πŸ˜‰
  • @JaeSelle – Jae, ‘cuz you’re digilicious.
  • @DaphneLeigh – Daphne, you’re wonderful and I hope you find the happiness you’re looking for – I love your humor, your endurance and you
  • @LizScherer – Liz, I love your straight-forward way of talking people back to reality
  • @BobFine – Bob, you’re just a flat-out, stand-up good guy; a real American
  • @Loren_Feldman Loren deleted his Twitter accounts (@1938media) but Loren is one of the most passionate people about social media – he deeply understands how important it is for us to be smart about these media. I knew about him before Twitter, but it was through the lens of Twitter that I came to appreciate him through his persona as 1938media. Loren – you have one of the most important voices on and about the Internet- and you’re funny as sh*t, which is really all that matters. I wish you the best in whatever you do. Truly.

A couple years ago, my 82-year old Hungarian mother, who survived WWII, asked me: “Phee-lip, vat eez dees Tveety, Tveetar thing I all-vays hear about on zee news?” I demonstrated it to her using TweetDeck. She “got it” within about 5 minutes.

She leaned back in her chair and said “If dees Tveetar vawz around during virld var two, the var vould have been completely different! So many lives could have been saved from thatΒ kurva Hitler’s madness before the var even started. But it could have gone dee other vay too.”

My mom’s no dummy – a woman who witnessed and survived the worst of humanity, who came to this country, started her own business and raised five kids. When someone like that says Twitter is world-changing, you listen.

Thank you, Twitter: you’ve changed my life in ways you’ll never know. You’re bigger than the Beatles! πŸ™‚

If you ever land, may it be in a safe and warm place.

@PhilBaumann

484-362-0451

7 Comments

  1. And by “both” I meant “mother” … but my finger missed the M and forgot to add the ER. #typingfail

  2. Great post, Phil. πŸ™‚ And the way you typed what your both said (with the Vs and all) was hilarious. I sat here at my desk laughing because it added so much color!

  3. Hey Phil,

    Thanks very much for the kind comments and listing me. I’m honored. I just literally got home very late last night from Austin from SXSW, so sorry for the late response.

    I’m so excited about what the rest of this year may entail, and looking forward to working with you on a number of projects over the next few months.

    And, yes, i’m grateful for Twitter bringing us together and now having another friend from my home town of Philly. It’s hard to find good people that appreciate a quality hoagie and cheese steak.

    Bob

  4. Hi –

    If you read the post more carefully, you’ll notice I’m not enamored as you say – read Loren’s post linked above.

    But you do make a great point and that’s why we need more healthcare professionals involved here – for too long the marketers have been dominating the conversation at the expense of hearing the more diverse minds.

    Phil

  5. Hey Phil, while I can get how twitter can change events and healthcare, I’m still not quite as enamoured with it as you. Perhaps it is the vast number of twits using twitter? What can be used for good can also be used for evil, as I’m sure your mum would tell you. Since we are dealing with humans there is a great capacity for using the tool to do harm and how do we correct such harm? Or even better, prevent it? We are in the business of doing no harm, supposedly.
    I think our profession needs to address professionalism along side of how social media can change your life – cause without the professionalism it certainly can change your life, but you may not like where it leads you.

    Thanks for your thoughts though on twitter. You certainly have motivated me to give it a better look – repeatedly.
    h

  6. Hi, Kishan

    And you’re another wonderful person I wouldn’t have know about without Twitter.

    Great point about needing to know the Pre-Twitter age in order to appreciate Twitter today.

    Come to think of it, it’s getting hard to remember what things were like before Twitter πŸ˜‰

  7. Hi Phil,

    I share the same happiness and appreciation for the way Twitter has touched you as it has definitely moved my soul. Coming from a background of institutionalised racism and discrimination in Malaysia, having lived in Siberia and surviving violent attacks from the Neo Nazi’s in St. Petersburg, finally there is a tool that has the power to acknowledge and share the suffering, crisis and victory of humanity in 140 characters.

    I remember what it was like to want to share my my feelings, aspirations and listen to the world but I realise that I needed to know the Pre Twitter age in order to appreciate Twitter today…

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