After yet another moment of disappointment with Twitter, I recently posted the following tweet:
feeling disenchanted with #Twitter ... wishing for deeper engagement, more meaningful interactions -- am I being too greedy? #mindfulness
As if to disprove my point, a bunch of folks immediately tweeted back with a wide range of responses -- from the categorical, to the challenging, to the empathic kind:
SmoothSongsSoft: Hard to engage when no one responds. At least that's my take. Most people follow/followed by 1,000s. For me that's overwhelming.
dhammagirl: What are you seeking thats causing this suffering of desiring more? DG
MindfulBrook: I often feel the same -- going through twitter waves. Finding the balance of practicing mindfulness vs. reporting it.
DyamondPatlyek: Not greedy at all. I feel the same way.
traviseneix: No you are not. I often feel the same way with the twits. Tumblr mught be a good option. Or the dreaded FB. Let m know. Cheers!
_Reflections_: I don't think so. Sometimes it's really nice to connect with people out there in the world. I love hearing other people's thoughts.
hstryk: I think it's a lot harder on Twitter to meet like minded people. It's hard enough on any internet format to find deeper discussion.
brightwings: No not greedy. It's just tough to go deep and meaningful in 140 characters at a time :-) But not impossible. Stay on it!
My sense is that most people have not yet begun to scratch the surface of Twitter possibilities. So far, the most imaginative uses of the medium have been in the areas of fundraising, social good and political activism, such as during the Egyptian uprising. But what about day-to-day ordinary moments? Is there a way beyond straight sharing of trivial information? Can Twitter be used to add more meaning into one's life? I think so.
Here, to stir up your imagination, are eight tips for forming meaningful connections on Twitter:
1) Be vulnerable, and share your true self.
The more authentic you allow yourself to be in your tweets, the greater the chances that someone else will relate, and feel compelled to respond. I have had some of the most moving exchanges on Twitter as a result of sharing some difficult moments in my life.
2) Be compassionate.
Never ignore those who are having a bad day. As a result of a few words, your heart will gladden, and so will they. I am big on the Buddhist practice of loving kindness. "Sending much loving kindness your way. It seems like you could use some."
3) Give some personal context to the information that you share.
Don't just quote; also talk about how you came across it, or how you feel about it, or how useful it has been for you. It can be as simple as "love this:"
4) Shy away from automatic retweets.
Instead, go through the extra step of copying and pasting the tweet you want to retweet, and add a personal word along with it. This may require shortening the original tweet.
5) Honor the tweets that reach out to you.
Whenever someone DMs (sends a direct message) to me or @me (way of calling someone's attention publicly on Twitter), I make it a point to always respond in a very personal way. The only exception is when the person shows a questionable sense of boundaries, in which case I ignore them.
6) Invite people to join you in your life.
You can introduce synchronicity into Twitter by inviting your followers to join you as you engage in an activity. For instance, I have made it a habit to invite people to join me as I do sitting meditation using the hashtag #wannasit. A great sense of temporary community can be created that way.
7) Be generous, be grateful.
Share what you've got -- in this case, information resources. And express thanks whenever you benefit from a tip or information shared by someone else. It goes both ways. Last year, I ended up going on a Buddhist pilgrimage to India based on a suggestion from one of my followers. Needless to say, I expressed my gratitude to him for enabling me to have such a wonderful experience.
8) Only share meaningful content.
Shy away from self-serving tweets. Instead, only tweet about things that can add to someone else's life. Can you touch them, inform them, help them, make them laugh, make them feel better about themselves, incite them to do good things for themselves or others?
Want to practice? Tweet me @minddeep.
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