The first time I remember tweeting was on the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, Feb. 12, 2009. I was in a conference room at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum tweeting about an event held in commemoration of the bicentennial.
I’d already been blogging for nearly four months at the time, and I’d heard about this thing, Twitter. I liked the social media interaction on the blog and the way it was helping me spread word about the year-long bicentennial celebration and Lincoln’s life and legacy.
As I sat there next to the back door of the conference room, I wasn’t too sure what I was doing, and the looks I got from others seemed to say, “How rude! Why are you ‘texting’ in the middle of this esteemed scholar’s presentation?”
Their looks of disapproval were enough to make me stop after a handful of tweets and put my phone away.
As the bicentennial year and my social media presence progressed, I became more comfortable on Twitter.
By the time of the Lincoln Forum symposium at Gettysburg in November, I was so comfortable on the social media platform that I was the first person to ever live-tweet a forum lecture. The highlight of my day was when a follower tweeted a question, which I presented in the open-mic Q & A period at the end of the lecture.
Imagine what it felt like to have the presenting scholar say, “Well, I think that’s a forum first!”
It was history—and, somehow, deep in my heart, I was sure Abraham Lincoln himself was looking down, smiling on that moment. I’m convinced the president who was so mesmerized by technology and who spent so many long hours in the telegraph office during the Civil War would be using Twitter himself, if he were here with us today.
Through Twitter, I’ve build friendships around the world, talking social media with an enthusiastic young social media expert from Malaysia, lifting a toast with a cup of Joe from time to time with a cameraman in D.C. and sharing a lemon pie recipe with an author whose work I’ve admired for more than four decades.
In the more than three years since I began my first blog, Lincoln Buff 2, with its 200-plus posts celebrating the sixteenth president, Twitter also led me to a new career, as a co-editor for a health care communication website. The job post listed “lives and breathes social media” as a requirement.
My family will tell you that I do just that.
And now, with my new blog, “Musings on Route 66,” I’ll use my words to share my enthusiasm for other things—such as writing, being a baby boomer, living in Illinois and Missouri, loving old airplanes and steam engines, treasuring books, being inspired by people who have dreams and achieve them, and just plain loving life.
If you’d told me 10,000 tweets ago that social media would have led me to new friends, supportive mentors, and a new career, I would have asked, “How can 140 characters do that?”
Now I know.
© Ann Tracy Mueller 2012