Today starts the 125th Annual CCAR Convention.
Hopefully, that means that #ccar14 and #whatrabbisdo are about to become Trending Topics on Twitter.
If that above sentence made perfect sense to you, and you responded with a resounded cheer of “yes!” then you probably don’t need to read the rest of this blog post.
If that above sentence made your eyes glaze over with the # symbols and the word Twitter…read on.
How to become a quick-study at Twitter:
1. Go to twitter.com and set up an account. Choose a user name that isn’t too long, isn’t too complicated, and in some way helps to explain who you are. My username is imabima. (Get it?)
On Twitter, users are referred to by the user name, prefaced by the @ symbol. So my username is @imabima. The idea of “tagging” someone in a post actually originated in Twitter but expanded to Facebook.
2. Find at least 10-20 people to “follow.” This isn’t a huge commitment. It’s not like being “friends” on Facebook. It implies no special relationship. You follow other people in order to have something to read and respond to as you use Twitter. Twitter is ideal when there are people having actual conversations back and forth rather than just putting ideas out into the world.
I suggest you start with these rabbis who tend to tweet at the CCAR Conventions (this list is by no means comprehensive):
The CCAR has a list you can follow for #CCAR14. Just click “subscribe” and you’ll see tweets from everyone on the list.
(There are so many others who tweet….this is just a sample, based on the front page of those tweeting at the CCAR right as I type this post. Also, there are lots of other non-Reform rabbis and other interesting things and people to follow on Twitter. That’s a different post for a different day.)
A single Twitter post is known as a tweet. The verb used to explain what you’re doing when you post on Twitter is tweeting.
3. There are two main kinds of posts in Twitter: your own original tweets and other people’s posts that you re-post, known as re-tweeting. “Re-Tweets” are usually prefaced by the letters RT. Most “good” Twitter users will do a nice balance or combination of their own tweets accompanied by RTs of other people’s stuff.
4. Hashtags: This gets people a little wiggy. It’s really less complicated than it sounds. Hashtags are a way to follow along a certain stream of conversation in Twitter, which can be a vast ocean of stuff. So in order to best follow what’s happening at the CCAR, users will post their tweets with the extra phrase#ccar14. This allows people to follow just this particular stream of information surrounding the CCAR Convention and differentiates our conversation from last year’s convention. You can get by on Twitter with ONLY this hashtag for the convention. You don’t need any other ones. As you get a little more advanced in your tweeting….you can learn more about these things.
5. In real life: Add your twitter username (known as your “handle”) to your name tag at the convention. Talk to other people about how they’re using Twitter. Don’t be afraid to follow people and to see that others are following you.
Twitter is worth exploring. There’s a lot to be learned and gleaned from the vastness of its information stream. It does seem a bit overwhelming and daunting when you merely look at how many tweets there are per day, per hour, all over the world. For specific uses and purposes, it can be a really useful and educational tool.
I look forward to reading all the #ccar14 tweets!
Rabbi Phyllis Sommer serves as associate rabbi at Am Shalom in Glencoe, IL. This post originally appeared on her blog: Ima on (and off) the Bima.