The Breakfast of Global Champions

Something crunchy is on my mind.

It’s cereal. 

Over the last several weeks I have overheard several people bluster: “Twitter?! I don’t need to know what cereal people had for breakfast!”

Someone, please, tell me: Why is cereal getting such a bad rap? Cap’n Crunch and Toucan Sam never did anything to you. What’s more, I kind of like knowing what type of cereal people keep in their cupboards. It speaks to their personality or frame of mind. When my husband is eating Kashi I know he’s in his professional groove. When the Chocolate Lucky Charms appear (and disappear), the rest of the family retreats to its bunker. 

More to the point, though: In my 12 months on Twitter,  never once have I read what kind of cereal my friends and followers are pouring into their bowls. The people who glibly drop the the cereal line only make one thing painfully obvious: they haven’t *really* engaged in Twitter.

On Twitter, I regularly learn about projects on which  San Antonio business professionals are working, cool new initiatives by local companies, how journalists across the globe are using social media channels to improve the way they do their jobs, and how to get a steady stream of real-time, global news.

To measure Twitter by its tangible take-aways, though, is like judging a cereal box by the toy on its box cover. If you dig for the Light-Up/Twirly/Lawn Mowing Ninja Spoon, leave the box open and never eat the cereal, well, things get stale quickly

Following up in person with the people I’ve met on Twitter and converse with regularly has yielded real friendships, a broadened point of view, an expanded world and a chance to re-examine my job as a journalist. It forces me to consistently ask myself  hard questions about our newspaper’s role in this city and forge a kinship with other reporters from whom I both learn from and laugh with.

So when I pull up my Tweetdeck every morning and see a Tweet  about some great tacos a friend had yesterday, it is so *not* just about the avocado and queso . It’s sharing the little daily tidbits with people — fun facts, snarky comments, a joke — that build relationships beyond an economic exchange of data. It is my office outside my office.

Last night at a lecture by international relations expert Andrew Bacevich, a man in the crowd who had just retired from the federal government in an international capacity, said this math equation is at the root of our country’s  foreign relations: Arrogance=Ignorance=Incompetence.

Think about that. If we are too arrogant  — believing we don’t need to try new things, meet new people, go to events — we become ignorant about what’s going on around us because we limit our point of view and information sources. The result is that we start projects, write stories and produce products that don’t work for our audiences. We become incompetent, or at least, ineffective.

Because my husband works at a university, I often have conversations with college students who recently have returned from abroad and feel they left a restless spirit behind in those other countries. That spirit is the uncomfortable realization that we are tiny spokes in the global wheel of life, and only together can we move forward. Suddenly, that isolated group of U.S. friends doesn’t seem enough to paint the whole picture.

I can’t travel to Japan and India anytime soon, and maybe I don’t have time to go to that downtown luncheon today, but I can check my Twitter account and keep up with what’s going on.

First, let me crack open a new box of LIFE.

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~ by Donna J. Tuttle on April 9, 2009.

4 Responses to “The Breakfast of Global Champions”

  1. This is very well said and gave me some new perspective on why new information keeps us humble and growing! You should be a writer. I have to go try Twitter now…

  2. But you ARE a writer! 🙂
    Loved this column and couldn’t agree with you more. I have had trouble converting my friends and co-workers but in the end, it goes to show that not everything is for everybody. But as long as there are people who get it and can see the potential of all the new, great tools for communication that we have in power… then there is still hope.

  3. I had a great time at a dinner party last night explaining Twitter to some old colleagues/friends. They were thrilled and excited to jump right in and see where it takes them. I love it when people have such unbridled enthusiasm for learningnew things. Twitter has already taken me on some fantastic journeys and I’ve met so many interesting and friendly people (you, for one!). I can’t wait to see where Twitter takes me next.

    • Colleen,
      It is clear to all that you are a person who embraces life both inside and outside Twitter. Love that! Thanks for the nice comment.
      Donna

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