On Twitter

It's no secret that I'm on Twitter a lot. Frankly, it's changed the way I communicate with people. It's how I keep up with friends, stay up to date on all of the latest news and drama in InfoSec, and all of that good stuff. That said, Twitter is kind of a double edged sword. It can be an incredibly overwhelming amount of information, if you let it be that. I've also talked to some folks who find having followers terrifying, that people are watching their every move, and could be hanging on to their every word.

An article on The Brooks Review said it really well:

We are not friends because we both pushed a button confirming so — we just are interested in what other people say. Think of Twitter more like RSS feed subscriptions and less like a network of friends and you won’t get so worked up over all this follower nonsense.

It's one of the things I like a lot about Twitter. I don't care who is following me until I need to DM someone, for the most part. There are people that I don't care to follow, but we have great conversations often because they challenge me on things I say. Likewise, there are people that I follow who don't follow me back, but we still will tweet back and forth on occasion. The great part about Twitter is that it kind of acts like an equalizer for people, up to a certain point. (We'll leave celebrities and such out of it.)

I've heard people say "Oh, I really should use my Twitter more" or "Yeah, I don't talk a lot on Twitter." And you know what? That's absolutely fine. Twitter is an excellent tool to use passively. About 2 years ago, I was sitting in the back of a training class that I was helping teach, and a co-worker was watching me scroll through Twitter while I was listening to the other instructor. My co-worker asked me how it was that I just let stuff flow past me, that he would have gotten bogged down in reading or talking about at least half of the articles that just streamed past me. I explained that if I was looking to go read something interesting or do some research, then I would be digging into those articles too. But at that particular moment, I was just seeing what people were up to, looking at kind of the "big picture" of my little slice of Twitter. And that's often how I use Twitter. A streaming source of information.

People have asked me how I cultivate my list of people that I follow. Honestly, I don't have a particular method. I follow people I find interesting. At one point, I got close to following 1,000 accounts, and it was ridiculous. I was seeing hundreds of tweets an hour, and it got to be very overwhelming. I've speed read since I was a kid, and even I couldn't keep up with the pace. So I sat down and evaluated my Twitter feed for a day or two, and starting doing some serious trimming. Company accounts? Out. People who only seemed to retweet articles? Out. If they used that annoying "OMG leik 3 people followed me and 6 unfollowed me today" service? Out. But with no solid rules, and that worked for me.

Twitter is what you make of it. Decide what you want from it and adjust accordingly. Engage if you want, or use it as a cultivated news feed about people you find interesting. There's no right or wrong way to use it. I find it useful, but it might not be for everyone. Of course, it's the Internet, you're putting yourself out there. People will disagree with what you say, or how you say it. But Twitter is a powerful tool, especially in the InfoSec community. If you haven't tried engaging with the community, I highly recommend it.