@ running tweet-up

Even those of you not familiar with social media, may indeed have heard of Twitter. Whenever I speak to people who actually live their lives in the physical world, I get one of two responses when someone brings up Twitter. The first includes rolling of the eyes, a head lean and the slight pursing of the lips as if to say, “Why would you waste your time with that ridiculous time suck?”. The second is an almost embarrassed look-away glance, a widening of the eyes accompanied by a pressing of the lips and an involuntary widening of the cheeks, usually associated with hearing something naughty and not quite wanting to admit it.

Twittering, after all, may have a completely different meaning in other social circles.

In reality, Twitter is definitely a time suck and, as my cousin says related to Facebook, can make the most organized and productive person feel completely wasteful and feckless. That said, I find that the most valuable moment of Twittering, or any other social network, is when the Twitter world meets the physical world in the form of a Tweet-up.

A Tweet-up is as it sounds an opportunity for Twitterers to meet in person without the need for hash tags (#hashtags) to follow along with the conversation, although at many Tweet-ups twitterers will physically be engaged in a live conversation while simultaneously texting what they are saying and hearing to online Twitterers who couldn’t be present. Yes, it’s one of the very bizarre features of microblogging that if you can’t attend a meeting or an event, there will undoubtedly be people there who will take and publish notes for you live that you can follow from the comfort of your house while watching the season finale of Dexter.

This past weekend, we had a running Tweet-up in Sleepy Hollow, NY about 30 miles north of Manhattan along the Hudson River. Now follow along with me. It was started by @jackievny who lives in the area letting us know she and her husband – a non-Twitter user – Drew (come on, can I please anoint you with @drew?) were planning on running 20 miles and asked if anyone wanted to keep them company for some or all of the run. @coachadam (that’ me) responded, “sure”, followed shortly by @jg_65, @philliplavoie, and lastly by @billrisch (who later flaked out because, well, because he’s @billrisch). We were after all, planning on running at Rockefeller Park (not to be confused with @rockefellerpark or @rockies) which is the absolute best place to run in the Metro New York area.

Now you might think that tweeting and running have nothing in common, with one being performed by introverted face-made-for-podcasting techno-geeks and the other by lean, athletic and health conscious folks who crave being outside and disconnected from THE MACHINE. @steverunner uses the term couch of doom, but I’m fairly confident that the machine of doom is a much more realistic threat to our health and waist size. Just ask @fitnessrocks.

Cycling and triathlon, on the other hand, are much more inclined to twitterers. Why? Because you have a stem onto which you can mount your crackberry and you can tweet or group tweet with a single hand during those long tedious multi-hour base building rides.

Still not convinced? Not ready to join the tweeting masses who daily and mindlessly provide answers to the question “What are you doing?” Well then perhaps there’s one person who can help you to change your mind. The next time you find yourself tickling the keys to your laptop in contemplation of being drawn to the dark side, pop on long enough to send a DM or an @tweet to @lancearmstrong. Seriously, even @texafornia‘s wife Emily is provided with 140 full characters there to profess her undying love.

But I digress…


Jamie said on December 15th, 2008 at 8:49 pm

I avoid a lot of the “tweetups” around Boston because they are all tech nerds. I love geking out, but everyone has a threshold.

Glad to see that “tweetups” are spreading to to the athlete community.

Although I do think that the term “tweetup” is pretty useless. Twitter has gotten big enough that a “tweetup” is like having a special gathering just for facebook users. Unless may be you are tweeting WHILE you run…
So I guess that means I’ll have to tween during my long run with @speedysasquatch this weekend.

Javier said on December 16th, 2008 at 12:23 am

So if I make it a habit of tweeningwhile running, does that make me a tweenager again ;)

FitMommy said on December 16th, 2008 at 7:38 am

Funny. Sounds like you all had a great time. Not sure I would have volunteered for a 20 miler, though!

Mango said on December 17th, 2008 at 10:04 pm

Hey Coach Adam!! Love the blog! Even more I love to tweet! just had a question. You going to be up in Boston this year?

Coach Adam said on December 18th, 2008 at 6:53 am

Mango, I so very badly want to go to Boston in 09. It’s all about finding a place to stay for free. I’m living the sustainable cost reduction lifestyle right now :-)

cyberpenguin said on December 23rd, 2008 at 6:31 am

Hi Coach Adam,

Kudos to you for encouraging others to join the Age of Technology & social networking culture! ;-) I’m right there with you; we need more forward-thinking people to promote the idea of democratizing tech & making it accessible for everyone.

Of all the social networking groups out there, I believe that Twitter & Facebook are actually some of the more pertinent & useful networks out there. Their real value lies in in their effectiveness in seamlessly connecting people & communicating information. They also provides an easy & efficient means of staying in the loop with the goings-on of one’s family, friends, coworkers, & business associates, etc. These tools can also help you expand your existing social and professional circles in profound & life-changing ways. I’ve seen it happen & have personally experienced it myself.

These tools can also help you keep current (with regard to news & events) & also keep track of your contacts in a centralized, real-time way.

And for you skeptics out there, no, these tools are not just for wasting time! You can make these tools whatever you choose them to be. It’s really up to you. And the possibilities are endless.

In general, I really do believe that social networking tools can become anything that you want them to be; they really don’t have to be time-wasters. It’s all about how people use them. I think that the real trick is to make these tools work for you as resources versus feeling apprehensive or overwhelmed by them.

To create new technology takes imagination, vision, passion, & dedication, & a little bit of persistence to realize these ideas & see them through. And as a result, new societal structures or modes of behavior often spring up around these technologies to accommodate and support their continued development. Of course, this is not something to fear; it’s something to embrace.

To continue living life as we always had before is to reject our own growth trajectory. And that is really not an option if you think about it. Either we move forward or backward; there is no standing still. (Well, actually standing still is really moving backward in a way.) “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” The way forward to progress is acceptance of chance. It’s as simple as that.

Technology is only as good as the people who are using it. And that’s the key word, “people.” It’s the connective thread, & we can’t forget the various social realities that govern human nature. Better that we recognize our limitations at the outset to help overcome them, & evolve our thinking and problem-solving abilities as a species.

I believe that certain social networking tools — like Twitter & Facebook — have a lot of inherent value, (even if that value isn’t initially recognized or realized by many people at first), especially when they are used as resources to communicate information and create community.

Social networking is inherently significant & relevant as a larger societal trend, & is not likely to go away anytime soon. It’s important for people not to prejudge these concepts, since we are on the forefront of emerging technologies that can take us into new & as-yet unrealized directions. I find the whole area incredibly fascinating. Many facets of these networks have already turned out to be much more useful than people originally anticipated or even intended.

People might roll their eyes, but a lot of those same people are the ones I’ve gotten to sign up for sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. ;-)

To quote Shakespeare, “Me doth think the lady protests too much.” ;-) It’s often the ones that scream “No!” the loudest that are secretly unconvinced of their own positions on the matter.

It’s like the Gertrude Stein quote about the way in which society works & how it accepts/assimilates new ideas/paradigms into its existing framework: (I’m paraphrasing here….) “At first people say no… and then all of a sudden, they say yes.”

It can take time for some people to accept & adapt to fundamental technological changes that alter the very fabric of society, but I believe that we can all do out bit to help ease people into the Digital Age; we can all help to change hearts & minds about the benefits and transformative positive power of technology in our lives.

I certainly applaud your efforts towards this end! It’s the “pay it forward” principle, and it could very well be as simple as doing a “retweet” in twitter. 8- )

I’d even go as far to say that it’s a civic responsibility of those with technological savvy to help show others how new technology can add value to their lives. And of course, these efforts are crucial for our development & advancement for our future as a nation, both economically speaking & educationally speaking.

My not-so-secret agenda is to get more and more people to integrate technology into their lives and to use it as a positive social catalyst and force for good. Slowly, I am working on this, one person at a time. But it’s not just about individuals & their value as separate entities. Much of the value of social networking tools lies in group interaction. And of course, helping people to connect to each other is not only a great way to facilitate new ideas that come out of a collective, collaborative effort, but is also important for people developing meaningful bonds with others and feeling like they are part of something larger than themselves. We can bring out the best in people this way, as they begin to recognize the altruistic value of such contributions.

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