Friday August 14, 2009

When I was in college, there always seemed to be lots of stray dogs showing up on campus. It was a common thing for these dogs to follow me (probably because I pet them) and some even chased the wheels of my wheelchair.

Fast forward to now.

Even though I’m relatively new to the social media site Twitter, I’ve become accustomed to the seemingly bizarre following practices–complete strangers following me just so I’ll follow them (all for the sole purpose of getting more followers), or people trying to sell something so they follow me in hopes of selling me some pipe dream.

Then one day, these two concepts seemed to collide. I was being followed, on Twitter, by a dog. A Boston terrier puppy named @HoytGriffin, to be exact. Whenever I get new followers I always check out their profile to gauge their legitimacy. I don’t mind strangers seeing my tweets, but I block anyone trying to sell me something or if they are obviously a spammer. What I saw made me giggle.

Not only was Hoyt a real, local doggie, all the tweets were in the dog’s voice. What I mean is, the tweets are in first person and they’re all about Hoyt. Apparently this pup had just been adopted and was having a hard time getting used to the idea of using the bathroom outside. I was amused so I thought I’d follow @HoytGriffin for a few days just for kicks.

That was almost a month ago, and I’m not only a follower, but I’ve met @HoytGriffin in person, as well as the puppy’s human family. I’ve also made other doggie friends on Twitter who are all local canines who enjoy Twitter. Their tweets, I must admit, are some of my favorites of the more than 200 people I follow on the site. Their creativity, silliness and sometimes frank wisdom are appealing and genuine.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m under no delusion that these canines are jumping up to the keyboard themselves and sending the tweets. I know full well that their humans are behind the accounts and that’s what makes it even more interesting to me. I love seeing their creativity as they, for just a moment, try to think like a dog. What would a dog care about? What would the dog say? They give their furry friends a proverbial voice, but it’s more than that. They are exercising a side of their human brain that I think is becoming even more rare these days as technology seems to do all the thinking for us.

These humans, by writing as their dogs, are being creative and fun in their communication. I’ve not asked them, but I bet that in some ways it will eventually help their creativity and abilities in other areas…if that hasn’t happened already. I believe this to be true because I’ve seen it happen to me.

I’ve been a professional writer in some capacity for nearly a decade but my ability to express myself with my work-related writing didn’t really improve until I started blogging for fun. Ironically, I for a short time blogged as my cat, Missy. I created a account for her and used the blog function to write about her life. But I figured that if I could blog about my life on MySpace, Missy should be able to blog about her life on the cat version of MySpace. So I wrote a few times as my purrbaby. I would share these entries, but I finally deleted the Catster account because I was getting too many accounts on too many sites to keep track of. I figured Missy couldn’t care less so I axed that account.

Anyways, I’m not saying that I’m a brilliant writer but I do think my writing ability improved as I started blogging. I was better able to stretch my mind, my creativity and my ability to express myself adequately. This has helped me not only professionally, but personally.

So how about it? Ever consider writing as your dog, cat or hamster? It doesn’t even have to be an animal, consider putting yourself in the place of some inanimate object. If it were alive and could communicate like humans do, what would it say?

You may feel silly, but it could also be fun. It could also open you up to all kinds of new opportunities…or like in my case, new friends.

2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. So glad I caught this in my frantic scan of Twitter postings this morning. Since I use social networking almost exclusively for business, it is a fun escape to tweet for one of our pack. Business and technology doesn’t exercise our creativity. Writing gives us a chance to exercise the other side of our brain and be reminded that the “social” piece is where relationships are forged.
    Carrie Perrien Smith (@midgieboy’s mom)

  2. Carrie, thanks for visiting and commenting! I love following Midgieboy (and I knew who you were!)

    I’m glad you have that outlet, I think I got in that rut too where all my writing was for work. Blogging, etc. helps me write for ME.

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