This post was inspired by Dawn’s post last week titled #twittertreasure.

I had an experience similar to the one Dawn describes when I joined Twitter. It may not appear to have much of substance at first glance, but there is a lot of value under the surface waiting to be discovered by anyone who takes the time to look for it. When I first heard about Twitter, I remember thinking it was nothing more than a place for people to post pictures of their cats and what they had for lunch. I joined the social network in the middle of 2008, but at the time I still didn’t understand what the purpose of “tweeting” was. Far too much time has passed and far too many updates have been tweeted since then to find out what my first tweet was, but I know it was something along the lines of, “I don’t get the point of this thing.”

I tweeted a few times after that, but I didn’t follow many people and I didn’t have many followers of my own, so it wasn’t something that I ever went out of my way to do. Then, in the summer of 2009, something changed. I suddenly discovered that Twitter was very different from other social networks: Facebook and its derivatives were primarily a way to communicate with people I already knew, but Twitter provided an opportunity to meet and communicate with new people with similar interests. At first I tweeted mostly about one of the things I love most, baseball, and followed people who were interested in that only, but I soon branched out and began to discuss other topics, such as my other love, English literature. I discovered that some of the people I had already followed were also interested in literature, and I followed more people who were interested in that and many other things.

Over three and a half years and nearly 80,000 tweets later, I can say with confidence that Twitter is one of the biggest “treasures” on the Internet. If one takes the time to sift through the drivel found in celebrity accounts and trending topics, it can be a powerful tool for discovering new material and promoting your own, as well as for creating friendships with people who care about the same things you do. Twitter can no longer be called a “hidden” treasure, with over 100 million active users around the world and over 200 million tweets generated every day, but it can certainly be said that a vast number of people do not realize its potential or dismiss it without investigating it for themselves. From my own experience, I can say that merely dismissing it is a mistake, because I made the same mistake when I joined. When I gave it a chance, however, I discovered that it offers much more than I had ever realized, and I am confident that you will too.