What Happens When Twitter Dies?

I’m not really in a position to understand all that’s happening over at Twitter. I mean I realize Elon Musk bought it and seems to have the desire to change the platform and many feel it will either implode or turn into something they don’t want to support. But I don’t yet have an opinion. It’s partly because I’m not sure I care.

That might sound weird for someone that was around for as long as anyone I know. I joined the platform in January 2007. It was barely 6 months old. There was no such thing as social media or at least we didn’t call it that. Twitter was a major accelerator for network building for me. But as this all was happening, most of us had no understanding or intentionality of how we would use it. We were a bunch of educators playing around. I say educators because, at the time, that’s about all we’d see. The first 3-5 years of Twitter were the glory years for me. I created a network and made friends. This is one of the first things I wrote about Twitter. It was mysterious. It was innocent. It was fun. This post sums up how I have tried to use Twitter over these past 16 years.

I used to tweet a lot. I mean a lot. In the first seven years. I hit 100,000 tweets. I even made a stupid video about it.

I don’t remember when but I did get the coveted blue check mark. I don’t really know why, there are a lot more famous, important people using the platform but I got it. It didn’t really change anything for me. But it was around this time that the platform shifted and became more mainstream. That mainstream use came with the advantage of becoming more popular and important to many but also came with more garbage and sketchy players. In the last 8 years, my use has dropped 75%. Twitter has been evolving long before Musk took over and I’ve certainly lost much of my desire to spend time there but I got out of it so much. As I mentioned, I’ve made friendships, gotten connected to smart people, laughed, and played. I’ve even been able to secure speaking gigs on the platform so in that respect it’s probably made me a little money too.

If it blows up tomorrow, I share much of the sentiment written by my friend Alec who has a very similar Twitter trajectory. I’m good. I’ve got more out of the platform than most. I have a robust network and community (those are different things by the way). I’ve found other platforms to stay connected to those I care most about. The serendipity of finding new people has diminished greatly over the years but for me at this stage of my career, it’s fine. But what about younger educators?

This is where I’m most concerned. When I was teaching undergrads and even graduate students, part of my mission was to help them build their network and find a community that existed beyond the walls of their school or district. Early on I advocated the use of Twitter. That has not been the case more recently. The added noise and activity on the site made it more difficult to easily find people. I realized the cost/benefit of using Twitter to find a network was not favorable. I saw educators naturally shift to Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat, and TikTok. While I’m not sure those spaces can provide the access to the right people the way the old Twitter did, at least some were trying. But the idea that a teacher can find her tribe and then every year attend an event and meet up with that tribe to reinvigorate and revitalize her desire to teach may be gone. For those of us fortunate to have that we know what a difference it makes for us and our students and our well-being. At a time when wellness is such an important topic, the idea of an online community and support from outside voices is more important than ever and yet more difficult to build today than it has been. Twitter still has the structure that can allow for that but it takes effort to curate and understand how to do that. If Twitter dies, I’ll be fine but I hope we can figure out how to provide opportunities for young people to connect to the same kind of smart and caring educators that have encouraged and supported me for the past 15+ years.

Delight 15: The #Deanie Awards

Starting in 2015, I decided to take time at the end of the year to celebrate my network. The randomness that I’ve always loved about Twitter is the chance encounters I’ve had both in-person and online but often stemming from a conversation on Twitter or just something that made me smile.

I have no real formula or criteria for doling these out. This year I tried to favourite tweets that caught my attention and used many of these in my celebrations. You’ll see some are very thoughtful and serious while others are pure frivolity and that’s kind of the point. I recall one of the reasons I started this was some conversation about the value of awards and how often it left people feeling left out or that it was some type of popularity contest. I’m not sure how much this award tries to be the antithesis of that but for me, it is about the delight I find in small interactions or gestures of others. When I think about these people, some of whom I know very well and others I’ve never met, I smile. They bring me delight.

I know these awards mean absolutely nothing. I still worry I’ve left someone out which I know I have but that also speaks to the inequity of any award system. But it’s nice to reflect on those whose passions, strengths, quirkiness, gestures and personalities make me smile. It’s also delightful in seeing others who just enjoy seeing them whether or not they receive one or not. I hope you’ll scan this list and perhaps connect with someone you don’t know and add them to your network.

Why Am I Still Using Social Media?

Since the inception of social media which emerged in and around 2005-07, it has gone from something as silly and useless to essential and powerful to dangerous and divisive. Perhaps all of those elements remain in some respects but certainly, the danger and divisiveness is the dominant narrative. If you’ve watched The Social Dilemma or done any other extensive reading, you’re quite aware of the harm it has and continues to cause our society. There isn’t a current issue that isn’t ripe for controversy, misinformation and vitriol. We’re overheating everywhere.

When I joined Twitter in 2007, it was definitely a silly and seemingly useless space. There were no such thing as followers, hashtags or mentions. As someone interested in the power of connectivity and networking, I found it to be a fantastic way to find interesting people. While some were already using it as a space to share serious and useful content, I just wanted to get to know others. As an educator is was a virtual staff room. A place where educators would come together to try and get away from the challenges of teaching but like any teacher will revert back to the job and look for support from colleagues. When I did work in schools, my personality was such that I tended to be the one to lighten the mood. I intentionally would tell stories about my family and life that usually had me as the butt of the joke. As a group we also loved sharing stories of students that were generally endearing and funny. It was rare that we shared stories that demeaned students. I was fortunate to spend my career surrounded largely by caring, thoughtful educators who loved children. But I also found a role to create a culture of joy and laughter. As I gained confidence in my own leadership, I began to see this more clearly and purposefully over the course of my career.

This same disposition is what I tried to do with my social media experience. Early on, this was pretty easy and it was the way I began to connect and relate to people from around the world. I think one advantage of those early days was its lack of status and metrics. Everyone was equal and I think it made things less competitive as there was nothing to compete for. Over time, of course, it did become more structured and promoted as a place to share resources and ideas. This wasn’t something that was particularly exciting to me as my resource and ideas were coming from longer form sharing via blogs or subscriptions to others’ bookmarks. But Twitter and Facebook (I’ve never used this much for professional purposes) began to evolve and become more mainstream and my viewing it as a “virtual staffroom” began to dissolve. I realize many were able to maintain it’s purpose and value, I was not. As a result, I would occasionally venture into political and educational tweets that were nothing more than my version of the “airing of grievances“. Even my more thoughtful questions and wonderings often had divisive qualities to them. The bottom line is I wasn’t staying true to my nature of building a culture of joy.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to engaged in deeper conversations about education and politics. I do. But in the same way that barging into the staffroom and going on a rant about something was usually seen as inappropriate, I don’t want to do that anymore. Again, it’s not about ignoring issues or toxic positivity but rather protecting spaces. When certain staff began to dominate and bring their grievances and problems into the staffroom during a 15 minute break, we would see others choose to stay in their rooms. On the occasion I was perceptive enough to notice this shift, I would work hard to change the narrative and return the space to a time where we could rest, laugh and be re-energized.

And yet it’s become more difficult for me to make Twitter great again. I would blame the platform for much of it and it’s also about how folks choose to use it. I don’t blame anyone for wanting to voice their opinions. debate and change people’s minds. There are examples for sure of how social media has influenced and supported change both positively and negatively. Some would argue it’s my privilege that allows me to avoid these conversations. Perhaps, but as I said, I’m not opposed to having hard conversations in fact I welcome it but hard converations, in my opinion, require relationships and spaces where ideas can be shared in full and civil discourse is prized and promoted. I don’t think social media is that place.

All that to say, while I understand why many have deleted their accounts I still find value and take pride in making someone smile. That’s not a small thing. Laughter and joy are something we’re running short of and my privilege and blessings suggest I share them with the world. This doesn’t mean I never ask a question or tweet something more serious. I just want to be more careful that it doesn’t divide but encourages. But my best work comes from sharing my grandkids, sports, my wonderful marriage and my own unique sense of humour. I want to believe social media can still do the things I thought it could do in 2007. Connect me with smart folks and provide a space for me to share joyful things.

If you don’t follow me on Twitter, here’s a treat for you.

I can’t do much for folks during this really challenging time but maybe i can bring a smile or two to the world. I’ll take that as a decent contribution. These comments today validate my efforts. Thank you.

Delight 8: Rex Chapman’s Tweets

There are many delightful people tweeting delightful things. But perhaps the best known is Rex Chapman. I actually remember him as a basketball player. His twitter account has emerged over the last year by building off the “block or charge” meme which is a riff off the basketball call officials have to make every time a foul around contact is called.

He has a knack for curating great video tweets. Many are funny but he also seems to have coined the tweet, “This is the content I’m here for” which are typically stories that show the best of humanity.

Case in point…

There are so many adjectives to describe that, everything from beautiful to heart-warming. I see it as delightful, a little sprinkle of goodness that reminds us of the kindness that still exists. For Chapman, he’s using this partly as an antidote for his time addicted to opioids.

… it’s a way to bring some joy to himself and to everyone who clicks.

“It’s so silly,” he says. “It’s the dumbest, lowest form of entertainment. I’m happy to be alive and share some laughs with people.”


In today’s world and particularly as we navigate the craziness that the Covid virus has brought us all, I’m going to suggest that we distract ourselves from the news and constant updates and consume content that brings us delight. And then even after this all passes, we consider this not just as a distraction but as delightful medicine that is good for our souls.

What Do You Do With All Your Photos?


I’m always curious about what people do with their photos either personally or professionally.  Abundance doesn’t always translate to usefulness. Which is what prompted my question and specifically to go beyond posting to Twitter, which is great but had me wondering about other ideas.

I had a number of great responses. While folks could find them by searching my feed, I like being able to collect them and share them better. Storify used to be a great tool but it died. Twitter moments is a nice option but recently found out about Wakelet which does tweets but like Storify allows you to add content from other sources. At any rate, here are the ideas shared.