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Twittering for Elders

by Laurie Israel, Esq.

The new technology fascinates me, especially the new “social networking” sites, such as Facebook and MySpace.

I am amused by the name of the new social messaging site, “Twitter”, each time I run across it. I envision hundreds of little birds perching on the power lines and telephone poles near my home twittering happily, waking me up on Saturday morning. I was unsure what Twitter really was, so I took a little adventure in order to share it with the BCA Newsletter readers.

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Twitter is website where you can post messages, or “tweets”, in “real time”, either by your cell phone or by email. The messages are up there on the site for everyone to see within moments. There is a catch – the messages are limited to 140 characters. This makes for a style of writing that is brief, to the point, catchy, and fits into the fast tempo of modern society.

It is easy to sign up and free. Even I was able to do it without a hitch. (I’m not very good at these things). When you get on your own “Twitter” page, the question you are asked to answer is “What are you doing”. As a matter of fact, people not only describe what they are doing, as in, “My hip pain is better now” (from Laurie345), but often provide comments to newsworthy topics. Many of these “news” tweets provide a brief comment, and then link a pertinent website, which you can access by a click. This is how Twitter accelerates the flow of information in our worldwide society.

Aside from updating your network of friends and family on your goings about town, you can find the search function on the bottom of your Twitter page. Just click it. I searched Madoff, and Maddow. While I was looking at the Madoff tweets, five new tweets had posted. Some of the postings had links to websites. So you can find very interesting, up-to-date news on topics of interest to you by using Twitter. You can even have tweets on your subject of interest fed to your Twitter home page. (This is called a “feed”.)

Twitter was in the news recently during the Mumbai terrorist attacks in November, when victims and onlookers were able to instant message from their cell phones onto the Twitter website as the events unfurled. This helped with the rescue effort. Tweets by onlookers and others also helped speed up the rescue of passengers and crew of US Airways Flight 1549 in January when the plane made an emergency landing in the Hudson River.

And Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri was tweeting her friends, relatives and colleagues during Obama’s speech to the Joint Session of Congress in late February. (When she noticed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg arrive, McCaskill tweeted “I did big wooohoo for Justice Ginsberg. She looks good.”) There are even cable TV programs springing up that use tweets in real time as commentary.

So what do you think about this brave new world? Fascinating, isn’t it.

Copyright ©2009 Laurie Israel.

Laurie Israel

Laurie Israel

Laurie Israel is a founder of Israel, Van Kooy & Days, LLC, a law firm located in Brookline, Massachusetts. She combines a family law practice with estate planning, tax, mediation and collaborative law. Laurie is a former board member of the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation and the Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council. Her writings include articles on divorce, mediation, marital mediation, and prenuptial agreements. You can find her articles on www.ivkdlaw.com, Huffington Post, and Mediate.com. She is the author of the forthcoming book The Generous Prenup: How to Support Your Marriage and Avoid the Pitfalls.
Laurie Israel

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