Anyone who knows me knows that I love Twitter. The people, journals and organisations that I follow send me links to interesting articles and reports that would take me days and days to find if I had to search for them myself. I have made so many useful contacts with people from around the world and there are always those important cute cat pics for when I am feeling low. However, I have come to realise that most of the people that I am actively connected to on Twitter are not from academia. This has been great as a way to develop contacts with the third sector and policy makers and find out what is going on in their worlds. Conversely my experience is that, apart from a few very active people, most academic gerontologists on Twitter are not very active. Moreover, based on my completely unscientific research, it seems that we are less active than other academic groups. I am not sure why this is the case, perhaps we are all too overworked, too shy, too worried about saying something silly or even feel that we don’t have anything to say. Whatever the reasons it is a shame, as we are an incredibly diverse and vibrant academic community. Anyone who has been to a gerontology conference in past few years must surely have been stuck by the range of topics that are covered and the passion of those who are presenting. I would like to bring same diversity and engagement into our social media use. Drawing on the example of #AcademicTwitter as well as disciplinary specific hashtags such as #SociologyTwitter, #epitwitter and #MedievalTwitter I have ‘launched’ #GeroTwitter as a place for us to be able to share ideas, start conversations, ask questions, share opportunities for work and/or study, celebrate our successes, vent our spleens and all the other things that we want to do.
The way this works is dead simple. You don’t have to sign up to anything or given any details. All you need to do if you want to post something to the gerontology community is include #GeroTwitter in the tweet. For example, say you wanted to get recommendations for a module reading list or find out what surveys asked a particular question. Instead of simply posting this and hoping that someone would come across it (given the half-life of a tweet is about 20 mins you would have to be quite lucky if the right person happened to be looking at their feed at exactly the right time) by adding #GeroTwitter to your post anyone who searches for that hashtag will be able to see your post and (hopefully) reply.
Obviously though, for this to work it needs us as a community to engage with it. But all this means is that when you use Twitter just do quick search for #GeroTwitter and see what is going on. If you only use Twitter once a week, check the # once a week, if you are on it a couple of times a day (like me) just check it once a day. You might be able to help someone out or perhaps even find that ideal job! So, if you are already on Twitter swing by and see what is going on. If you are not on Twitter but want to join in then please read the excellent blog by Dr Hannah Marston (https://ageingissues.wordpress.com/2018/12/17/tweeting-into-the-millennium-hints-and-tips-to-using-social-media/)
I look forward to seeing you all on #GeroTwitter