The other day I got an email: It was the 7th anniversary of joining Twitter.
Had it really been that long? Yep. Sometime in the Summer of 2007, in what was surely a slow day at the offices of The Oklahoman, I logged into the web, followed a link here or there talking about the latest thing online and decided to try out Twitter.
I’d heard that shorter usernames were better, so at that moment “@MKOKC” was born, to be scribbled on “Hello my name is” stickers for years to come.
(Footnote: There is a @mikekoehler on Twitter. His tweets are protected. His follower count is 50. What a legacy.)
Twitter has always been my native social media land. Facebook came along much later. And LinkedIn, while incredible helpful, is not somewhere you hang out and talk about the Thunder game.
Without Twitter, there wouldn’t be all of this. There wouldn’t be a Smirk New Media, or an office downtown, or a friendship and partnership with Stephanie Bice (or Kevin Deshazo or Allie Carrick and so many others) or all the other twists and turns of what up until 2007 was a straight line through the world of journalism.
What Twitter brought into my life and many others, I think, was a sense of connection and community. It was forged in those earl days, when people started to get hit by the recession and just started to wonder what was going on outside their windows and cubicles. It was forged during our bouts of severe weather, when you were able to get a real sense of “was everybody OK.”
I literally worked in a dark, glass tower for years, cut off from anything that was happening downtown, in other organizations or in the lives of people I would love to know.
For me, Twitter was a real-time stream of light and life, peeking in through the blinds.
Now did I take it a step farther? Yes. During that heyday of Twitter adoption in Oklahoma City, as I transitioned from journalism into consulting, I reached out to the people I met on Twitter and dared to meet them IRL. Those “Twitter blind dates” as my wife called gave me a crash course into PR, marketing, networking and thinking about business (and myself) differently.
And when the time came to leap into the void and start my own business – selling this service that had so radically changed the world – the net I dove into had been knitted by those friendships and relationships found on Twitter.
This is one of the reasons I take social media so seriously, when others still want to put it in a box or make it a punchline. Social media had so much to do with how my life has changed since 2007 – along with, no coincidentally a recommitment to church I made the same year – that I can never discount its impact.
When you open your phone to day, or pull up your computer, and start to send one of those 140 character gems, think about how different your life is now that we have this expectation of real-time communication with hundreds and thousands of those around us.
Think of how different life is now that we have made this community.