What is twitter?

Twitter is an online service where users can read and send small posts known as “tweets.” Each tweet must be 140 characters or less, but you will be amazed by how much information they can contain.

I used to think twitter was simply the most ridiculous idea ever. Who wants to know that I am making a sandwich right now? And why do I care if someone else is making a sandwich?

You can find support from other people with pain by sharing your thoughts on twitter.

But I was wrong about twitter, totally wrong. Twitter is great. Its a place to communicate with other people who know exactly what you are going through. You never have to explain. Everyone understands you already, and they have plenty of ideas for you if you are looking for ways to cope. Lots of people who tweet also have websites full of helpful information and personal stories that reflect the unique lives we lead.

In addition, you will find tweets from health professionals sharing helpful tips and reporting recent research that my be on a topic related to your specific concerns.

Twitter is in real-time. When you share your tweets others will be there to see you and understand you. Best of all, you will have the chance to tweet a few words of comfort to someone else, to share the fact that you too understand what it feels like to live with pain.

How to tweet?

To get started you will go to twitter.com and set up a new account. Use keywords with a # sign to search for subjects you care about. Incorporate these hash-tags into your own tweets to direct your messages to other people with the same interests.

Here are some popular hash-tags for chronic pain, and there are many more.

#spoonie              #RSD
#chronicpain       #CFS
#fibro                   #neuropathy
#migraine            #chronicallyawesome
#crohnie              #pain

This is a screen-shot of my search for #spoonie. Each result comes from another person tweeting. Each of them is identified by a @ sign in front of their user name. So Sheri is @osaxy. My tweets will appear with an @ourchronicpain. If I want to tweet specifically to Sheri I will put @osaxy in my tweet.

You will see in the results that tweets also contain website links. These links will often be in the bit.ly/xxx/xx type form. This is simply one of many ways to shorten a long website link into a shortened form you can put into your tweet. To shorten website links you would like to share on twitter, go to www.bitly.com.

You may ask: Why #spoonie? What does that mean?

Spoonie refers to a blog post written by Christine Miserandino of ButYouDontLookSick.com. In it, Christine explains what it means to live with lupus to her best friend. It is a very touching story that conveys the inherent difficult of explaining life with chronic illness and/or differing ability. Christine finds a way to communicate her message perfectly – with a handful of spoons.

You can follow Christine on twitter @bydls and click here for The Spoon Theory.


Photo by Steve-H at Flickr