I'm cross-posting this from the Artsy Asylum blog because it deals with communication, which leads me to think of support, and both turn out to be fairly important for cancer patients.
An insightful reader named Karen wrote a comment on my last post about twitter, Oprah and Ashton Kutcher among others. And she made some excellent points. For example she wondered if twitter was a bit like walking around with shirts displaying our latest emoticon. Which sometimes we are in fact.
Karen and others who wonder about twitter are not alone. There are lots of negatives about twitter, especially if one uses it to constantly bombard us with links to their newest blog post, something they want to sell, or their latest "opportunity." (or cures in the case of the cancer community)
But there are those of us who use it as a way to communicate and converse and we find it very helpful. Yes, even if it's just about the cat, we are connecting with people on the other end of the magic box, and doing it in little bits as we have a moment. Like a quick comment across an office or a short group conversation, twitter fills a need for many.
Unfortunately twitter can also be used as a billboard to blast information out without engaging in a back and forth. Lots of big names use it as a way to tell people they've just bought a new BMW or had lunch with another of the beautiful people. Apparently their fans like it, as many of them have hundreds of thousands of followers; see Britney Spears & others. In fact there is a special feed just for celebrity tweets.
I think that's kind of not the point of twitter, but opinions vary.
My experience is that for the most part twitter is much more personal than that billboard Karen wondered about. Not everybody sees what you tweet unless you have millions of followers like Oprah and Ashton Kutcher - although if folks have superhuman reading speed perhaps they can read your and all other tweets streaming down the public timeline
If you're even more concerned with just communicating with a very select group you have the option to set your account to be private & only let people that you actually know follow ( in other words people will never see your tweets unless you give them the OK.)
In any case, the only people who wind up paying attention are those who subscribe or "follow" you. It's not as if everyone is interested unless they see from your profile that you have something in common. Often you start off connecting w/ people you know in real life.
Beyond that, attracting kind of followers you want is not always easy. So it may be that broadcasting via the twitter billboard may not be an automatic success some would hope.
In my case, it's been a surprising experience for me. Specifically the support I got from twitter right after my breast cancer diagnosis was just astounding. My real life neighbors didn't do as much as send a card. Twitter people - complete strangers - wrapped me up and held me in a virtual hug.
Twitter is not for everyone and there are many other options that may meet different people's need. But after my personal experience with twitter, with how I've seen others benefit themselves and others as they reach out share experiences, fears and emotions, I can't say enough good stuff about the concept of sharing my emoticons too :)