This month is an anniversary of sorts. About a year ago, I joined Twitter. It started when I noticed that after a few of my blog posts were tweeted, my stats climbed. Thinking I could build a larger readership, I jumped in.
I took the first steps with trepidation. I signed up for NetworkedBlogs which simultaneously announced my posts on Twitter and Facebook upon publication.
It took a few days to understand Twitter lingo. At first I struggled to re-post others content, or to reply to a particularly poignant post.
As time went on, I found a group of people to follow. And magically, some found me. I continued to blog as before, but my audience had deepened. Maybe I could reach a few hundred, but a retweet from some well placed social media figure could expand the number by thousands.
I met some important people. I scored a writing assignment. I was interviewed.
The changes were subtle. I never wrote that sentinel post that made me famous nor learned the trick to having endless followers. Although there were no publishers or consulting gigs waiting in the wings, my writing became more expansive and prolific. I wrote about medicine, health care reform, and life.
I learned that my spelling is atrocious and my grammar sub-par. I also learned to forgive myself for such inadequacies.
The funny thing is that unexpectedly, Twitter gave me so much more than I asked of it. I should say that I have never felt a part of something greater. Unswayed by religion, unmoved by high school spirit, and disconnected from university loyalty, I always pictured myself somewhat of a loner. But all of the sudden, I became part of a community.
I belong to a group of physicians, nurses, therapists, advocates, pharmacists and others who fall under the big tent of health care social media. Some are writers, others commentators. We are connected not by physical closeness but a tenuous electronic signal that whirrs through the ether and lands squarely on the face of our mobile phones.
We dig deeper and create content to share with each other, waiting for the next great idea to surface. Sometimes we laugh, others we cry. We scream our opinions into the vast echo chamber and rejoice that somewhere out there we are being heard.
Standing shoulder to shoulder with humanity on any given day, it took the intangible, ephemeral world of Twitter to convince me.
I am not alone.
Jordan Grumet is an internal medicine physician who blogs at In My Humble Opinion.