I was trying to come up with a good analogy for why tweeting can be so satisfying, so nearly-cathartic for reaching out and touching those who are doing their best to suck all the joy out of my chosen profession. And then I remembered this clip from Family Guy.
I am Stewie when I Twitter-bomb. His long-suffering mother, Lois, could be Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee, any reform-happy, smiling glad-hander or technocrat who’s got a Twitter account. Like Lois, people get really riled when they are bombarded with annoyance and questions and criticism. To wit: on June 24, BTA members lit up the White House phones with calls for Duncan’s removal. THE VERY NEXT DAY, Duncan made a point to defend common core and dress down the media for not asking more questions of the likes of us who may disagree with Duncan. Today, July 2, the NEA shut down their phone lines after BTA members launched a switchboard assault on president Dennis van Roeckel’s comments at NEA RA concerning collective bargaining (against it) and Common Core (all in). BTA and other supporters of public education made a big enough noise as to illicit defensive reactions from both parties. These people who are currently pillaging public education are still people. And we can still get under their skin.
Once again, I’d like to make a disclaimer that I am not an expert at this, but I know enough to make noise, garner support, and hopefully, get some media outlets involved.
Set it up
It’s free. All you need is an email address. You may want to consider taking some precautionary measures when setting up your account, especially if you feel your job could be on the line if you are speaking out against your district’s policies. A popular convention I’ve noticed among the people I follow who choose to use their real names as their Twitter ID’s is a disclaimer on their profile page: “My views are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer” or something to that effect.
Who you talking at?
When you begin, you won’t have “followers”, but that’s OK. What you do have is the ability to send a tweet to the attention of specific people or groups. The easiest way to find a person’s Twitter ID is to use the field at the upper left of the home screen that reads “compose a new tweet”. In the example below, I am looking for the ID for film director Kevin Smith. I begin by typing the “@” symbol (all Twitter ID's begin with this symbol) and the name “Kevin”.
Notice I get a menu of choices, very much like when you type an email address in a Gmail message window. Notice also that the man I’m looking for goes by @That KevinSmith; people don’t always use their full names as Twitter IDs, so make sure you are tweeting the person or group you intend to tweet. For example, NEA’s ID is @NEAToday. Sending a tweet to @NEA will get you nowhere. And that’s a wasted tweet.
For your convenience, here are some IDs I've been sending to recently:
You can also use Twitter IDs to forward links to others. If you were following me and came upon a blog post you think I’d be interested in reading, you’d Tweet my ID @badamsky02 along with the message or link you wish to send to me.
All of these tweets show up in the recipients’ “mentions”, which can be found under the “connect” tab in the upper left of the screen. Almost like an inbox.
Hashtag? Isn’t that illegal in most states?
Hashtags are like file folders; they are a way to locate and read all about certain people or topics in the Twitterverse. Simply type the “#” symbol followed by what you are looking for into the search window at the upper right of the home screen. Right now, the Stephen King miniseries Under the Dome is airing on television. If I wanted to read a bunch of tweets about the series, I would search for #Underthedome. I've noticed the search function is not cap-sensitive, so no need for that convention.
And, as with Twitter ID’s, the search window will give you suggestions.
Give it a shot. Enter “#neara13”, the hashtag established for the NEA Representative Assembly in Atlanta this year, into the search window. Now you’re looking at a ton of tweets from people who used that hashtag in their messages over the past couple of days. You’ll notice the BTA was blowing this hashtag up yesterday with our NEA blitz.
If enough people use the same hashtag on any given day, that topic will show up on the home page as a Trend, and that’s a good thing, especially because some media outlets and bloggers and the like will check to see what’s trending on Twitter as the basis of a possible news story, especially on a slow news night. Use the hashtag #badassteachers every time you tweet about education. With enough of us following through on our planned actions, we are bound to get noticed.
Because tweeters are restricted to tweets of 140 characters or less, posting links to websites on Twitter can seriously eat into your character limit, as each character in the URL counts against it. Thankfully, there are a few web-based tools out there you can use to convert those 100-character URL’s into something more Twitter-friendly. I suggest http://tinyurl.com or http://goo.gl
There is much more to Twitter than what I’ve covered, and maybe maybe an “advanced course” featuring the finer points will be a future post. For now, you are cocked, locked, and ready to rock. So get out there. Reach out and touch someone special.
Oh yeah…follow yours truly @badamsky02