Opinions, Twitter, and Dialogue

I have a jumble of thoughts inspired by a few different conversations on Twitter the past few days. They're a loosely linked, so I figured it would be easiest to just get it all down in one post. Let's see if anyone can follow this mess...


Twitter is a place where we share opinions. Sometimes they're part of a larger, planned discussion. Sometimes one person's thought(s) can cause a flurry of ideas and conversation. We share a lot of opinions. Some people share opinions as if they're facts or as if their experience is the only experience. Anything else is wrong or nonexistent.

X is the only way to find a job. Y is the only way I can do Z to be authentic to myself. Going through A and B is the only path to take. My problem with these: everyone's path or story is true to them. We can't devalue someone's path because it's different.

My favorite ones have to do with valuing our knowledge and skills: If you don't identify with X, you don't know how to work with those students. If you don't work with Y-type of student, your opinion about best practices doesn't matter. If you don't have Z experience, your contributions to the conversation are less than those with that experience.

Before September I never officially worked with student veterans, and now my only "professional" experience is with a student club. Does that make my contributions to the field less valuable? Since I'm not a veteran, can I understand what they're going through and advise them properly? No and yes. We need to stop requiring validation for knowledge.

I don't supervise anyone other than students. But my (previous) student workers know the difference between effective and ineffective management and leadership. I'd be willing to bet they could contribute more to a conversation about leadership than some new professionals.

We don't get to judge someone's contribution simply because we don't understand their perspective. (We have the same problem in our hiring practices and it's creeped into our expectations: we can't know something until we have experience in it. We can't gain experience until we've proven we know something. What happened to life long learning?)


Twitter and #sachat is noisy to me. I've blogged about it before. Thursdays at 1pm, I tend to shut Tweetdeck down and bury myself in work. I rarely pay attention to rogue chats. It's too crowded I think? I rarely look at the questions. My favorite piece of these chats, if I do get involved, is to question other people's answers. To watch my friends answer the questions, because I know many of them come from different walks of life and may have different thoughts. I rarely use the hashtag at all anymore. It just gets lost. My questions are rarely answered by people other than those I follow. 

I'm snarky. I tweet about all sorts of things. I'm not always positive. I'm not surrounded by unicorns. I don't feel undervalued and I don't have any expectations of being thanked. I am me. I don't feel the need to talk about my authenticity or prove how much work I have to do (today I spent over an hour trying to print mailing labels). If you don't like it, don't follow me. It is not my responsibility to entertain or agree with you, I'm just me (and my current motto is: I am enough).

I wish I connected with more people outside of Twitter. But I'm terrible with email. If you become friends with me over Hangouts, you'll become exposed to all sorts of random thoughts, tidbits, and links. 

I am a Google Master though, so if you need to find something via Google, I'm your gal.


Here is my challenge to those on Twitter: for every opinion, piece of snark, or food porn tweet, ask a question. Use #sachat or #sagrad or #wisa or #NASPA or whatever hashtag thing you're interested in. 

I describe it as a favor bank (those who joined me for that group dinner at NASPA know what I'm talking about). We need to build a favor bank like we build credit. We start by contributing to our favor bank: answer questions, contribute to conversations, participate in chats, and build relationships. Doing those things we build "credit" in our favor bank. Once we have that established, we can start to "borrow" from it: ask questions, ask for favors, ask for resources. Until we have a strong favor bank built, we're just annoying leeches on the community. Nobody likes a leech.


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