I’m not going to tell you yet another story about yet another reluctant journalist who, as David Carr put it, “succumbed to Twitter out of professional necessity” and grew to love it despite her best intentions to continue doubting and reviling it. (If you want some of that good stuff, check out David Carr’s column on the topic). I do want to tell you about why I decided to change my Twitter handle from DCRunnergrrl to AmySReinink, and about how the change reflects my changing attitude toward Twitter.
I first started tweeting two years ago solely as a way to promote my short-lived D.C. Running Examiner page. I chose “DCRunnergrrl” as a handle without too much thought, and set out to tweet about the D.C. running community in hopes of luring more readers.
What happened next: I found this crazy, fun, virtual locker room full of amateur athletes sharing tips about training and races and horror stories about blisters and poo (runners love talking about the latter). I stopped writing for Examiner.com after a few months, but I stayed stuck to Twitter like glue, tweeting the results of my long runs leading up to the Marine Corps Marathon in 2009, and calling on my new locker-room buddies for inspiration and motivation.
Then, the traumatic (for me) Marine Corps Marathon happened, and the outpouring of support from athletes I didn’t even know was simply astounding. I started paying more attention to what else I could find on Twitter, connecting with swimmers and skiers and University of Colorado football fans (yes, we still exist), and finally to my fellow journalists and news sources. Through Twitter, I have found out about training plans for the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim, the earthquake in Japan, and everything in between, to include Free Slurpee Day. I’m still a news junkie who values traditional journalism, and I love that Twitter can point me toward stories I may not have found otherwise—not to mention toward new blogs and new friends and training partners, virtual and otherwise. (A side note: Without Twitter, I never would have found out just how fired up D.C. endurance athletes get when you bring up lane lengths at Wilson Aquatic Center).
A few weeks ago, a colleague at the DC Society of Professional Journalists asked for my Twitter handle. I hesitated before telling her “DCRunnergrrl,” cringing at how unprofessional it sounded next to a simple first-name last-name construction.
The more I thought about it, the more I felt compelled to change my Twitter handle—but for a completely different reason than how it sounds in a professional setting. DCRunnergrrl represented a writer hiding from Twitter, using it for blatant self-promotion and never correcting the record when that goal became unimportant. At @AmySReinink, I will continue to tweet a wide variety of D.C. running stuff. The name-switch reflects that I’ll tweet not just about running, but also about swimming, cooking, news-nerd stuff and life stuff. It also reflects the fact that I’m on Twitter to stay, not for work purposes, but because—well, it’s just kind of awesome.
Are you on Twitter? What led you to start tweeting, and what has surprised you most about the site? Did you put more time and thought into choosing your Twitter handle than I did? If so, how did you choose yours?