Frankly, most people's tweets are neither interesting nor fun to read — certainly not on a daily or hourly basis. Many, not at all. I say this with no condemnation, since I admit mine are pretty lousy, too. And I have a theory about why.
Recently I received one of those random chain emails; it's probably circulated through your in-box, as well. This one described an experiment organized by the Washington Post in 2007. A man played six Bach pieces on a violin for 45 minutes in the Washington DC Metro Station on a cold January morning. During the time he played, approximately two thousand people passed through the station. Of those, only six people stopped and listened, and then only for a very short while. The greatest levels of enthusiasm were displayed by young children, several of whom tugged on their parents, asking to stop and listen, but without success.
This concert, enjoyed by virtually none of the two thousand in the station that day, was given by the renowned violinist Joshua Bell, playing some of the most intricate pieces ever written. Two days before his concert in a theater in Boston had sold out with ticket prices averaging $100.
The circulating email challenges us to ponder what we each are missing. In a common place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?
I would add: Do we take time to reflect on the events of our day — to add our own interpretation? When things strike us as unusual or lovely, do we take time to note them?
These questions, I believe, are at the heart of the successful use of Twitter. Individuals who are most skilled at using this peculiar 140-character medium are those who do notice the small details of life, who capture the moments that others of us miss, who slow down to watch and listen while most race on, and who personalize the events they see.
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