I want to start out by saying that I am a straight and narrow follower of rules. It doesn't really matter what it is or where I am, if there is a rule, I try my best to follow it. Having said that I would like to share a story that happened to me this last week-end. Friday evening, my husband and I took our oldest son, who was home from college for the week-end, to dinner. While we were eating, my son asked me why I didn't have a Twitter account. He said he'd been thinking about it and he felt that since I was on Teachers Pay Teachers I should have another way to communicate with fellow teachers. He even volunteered to set up the account for me. I wouldn't have to do a thing. I could just sit back and relax and "tweet" my little heart out. I was a bit reluctant. My son, like most teenagers, is computer savvy but, is not afraid to hit keys and buttons at light speed. I wanted to tell him I appreciated the thought but, I would eventually set up a Twitter account myself. However, the look on his face, and the fact that he is all grown up and still wanting to help his momma was too much for me. So, instead of politely declining the suggestion, I whole-heartedly agreed. At least it appeared that I was excited on the outside, even if I was cringing on the inside and secretly hoping he would get busy and forget all about mentioning Twitter to me.
The evening passed without anymore mention of Twitter. By the next afternoon, I was under the false impression that my son had given up on the idea of helping me. It was later that night, just about the time I was getting ready for bed that he came back to my bedroom and announced he was about to sign me up on Twitter. Not only was he going to sign me up, he was going to find me some new friends to help get me started.
He grabbed some pillows and sat down on the floor beside my bed. I decided to work on lesson plans while I waited. I wanted to be close by in the case of an emergency but, I was too stressed to watch. After a few initial questions, he got to work signing me up, and I relaxed a little and became involved in my own work. I began to think this might be a good idea after all. What could possibly happen? It was only a Twitter account. People sign up for Twitter everyday without shutting down the World Wide Web, or crashing the Internet. I decided it was no big deal, even if I wasn't in control of the situation.
After approximately 10 minutes, he stood up and announced he was finished. I was officially part of the Twitter society. I thanked him as he showed me my Twitter account. I was actually very grateful. I gave him a hug and then looked down at the computer. Wow! I had 7 friends already. I couldn't believe it. I asked him if it were normal to get 7 new followers within the first few minutes of getting a Twitter account. He said he guessed so. The next time I looked down, I had 4 more new followers. I thought this Twitter thing might actually be a very cool adventure. How exciting. I finished getting ready for bed but, just couldn't stay away from my computer. It had only been 5 minutes but, I just had to look one more time. I told myself not to be disappointed if I had no more followers since the first few friends had to be no more than a fluke or coincidence. Imagine my surprise when I saw how many followers I now had...21. I had 21 followers in 10-15 minutes. I was now positive that Twitter was my favorite social network on the Internet. I ran upstairs to tell my son how many followers I already had. He, along with my other two teenagers, were duly impressed. I crawled into bed with a big grin on my face and checked Twitter one last time. Now there were 29 followers. I closed my computer and went to sleep with a fuzzy, warm feeling inside, thinking how friendly all those Twitter people were. I had visions of new friendships and interesting conversations dancing around in my head.
Needless to say, the next morning, as soon as my feet hit the floor, I hurried to my computer to see how many more nice people were following me. I half-way expected to see at least 50 or more followers on my account. As I looked at the screen, I was confused. I couldn't understand what was happening. I had 0 followers. I knew that couldn't be right. I was beginning to lose a little confidence in Twitter. I hadn't been on the site for 12 hours yet, and Twitter was already experiencing some kind of technical difficulty or glitch. I decided to click off my account and try again. The second time around was no different than the first. I still had 0 followers. While I was problem-solving what could have gone wrong with my precious Twitter, my eyes were drawn to the top of the Twitter page. There I saw the words that any rule follower would fear...the words that send chills down a straight-laced back and causes the heart to sink to the pit of the stomach...YOUR ACCOUNT HAS BEEN SUSPENDED. What? Suspended? Me? It couldn't be. I felt there had still been some type of mistake...some terrible, horrible mistake. I do not do things to get myself "suspended." After I stopped shaking, I willed myself to click on that awful word, "suspended" and find out what was going on. I couldn't image what in the world I could be suspended for. I am almost positive I had an out-of-body experience as I began reading all the rules I had broken. Yes, there was more than one! I was "aggressively following people," I was "spamming." I was abusing the rules of Twitter. I was no more than a common low-life criminal. I had lived my life as morally as I could, respecting and even welcoming rules in my life. Now here I was living out my worst nightmare. I thought it couldn't get any worse but, I was wrong. Next, I read where people had blocked me and even reported me. I was mortified! What had happened? I began to my scrutinize my account. I had to find out why I had broken so many rules and become this ruthless outlaw overnight.
It didn't take too long to figure out what had happened. Along with setting up my account, my son had also found me some friends on Twitter, just as he had promised...569 friends to be exact....569 friends in a matter of 5-10 minutes. Yes, that's right he had followed all those people so his momma could have some new friends. Apparently, you can't do that, even for your momma. Apparently, it gets you suspended before you even get started. All the puzzle pieces fell into place as I stared at that number...569.
I was humiliated and humbled as I proceeded to my "suspended" account to promise the Twitter folks that 1.) I would not aggressively follow or spam innocent individuals anymore, and 2.)I would follow all the rules and guidelines of Twitter in the future.
As I whined and carried on all day about how terrible I felt and how my self-respect had severely suffered, I tried to find a rainbow through the clouds of self-pity and woe-is-me. I knew there must be a lesson somewhere to be learned. "If you want something done right, do it yourself." Maybe, but I didn't think so. "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." No thank you. Not today! Then it struck me. In the words of the legendary Beatles, "Let It Be," summed it up for me. O.K. I messed up. I messed up B-I-G. However, in the scheme of things was it such a horrendous event in my life? No blood was shed, no lives lost. I had messed up, yes, but, I had tried to fix it the best way I knew how. If Twitter would have allowed me, I would have written a letter to all the innocent 569 people I had annoyed and bothered. But, we all know if I had written and sent the apology letter, I would have been suspended for spamming again. :)
Having said all this, if you are feeling brave, or wouldn't mind being associated with a Twitter outlaw, I have now installed the Twitter gadget on my blog. Please feel free to follow me anytime. I promise I will be good. :)
4 weeks ago