Twitter as back lane

60 Somerville

I grew up in the heart of Montreal; the 24 bus hurtled along our street, a restaurant and convenience store were kiddie corner, and I could walk to the heart of downtown. You might imagine a childhood in the heart of the city fast paced and frantic. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Our house, along with 9 other houses, backed on to a lane which provided space for unstructured and unscripted goofing around. In the lane you could show up, no invitation or reason needed. Maybe someone was there, maybe not…it didn’t matter. The space allowed for interactions, interactions  grew connections, and connections made magic happen.

Want to start a volleyball game? Sure! Ok lets see who else is around…
Let’s go exploring and collect bugs…Let’s run a vet center for baby birds…
Should we put together a Christmas play? Yes! I’ll ask my mom if she can help.

For 2 minutes or 2 hours, regardless, you could show up…hang out, muck about. Time was open and the space empty, to make of it what you wanted. When we had to jet away (aka a mother’s shout out the back door) we left, no questions asked. When we showed up again, a week or a month or an hour later, it was like we never left.

The lane is where I discovered my love of planning elaborate events. The lane is where I began to dream. The lane is where I discovered caterpillars, ants, and my love of biology. The lane is where we discovered ourselves, what we liked, what we didn’t and then changed our minds.

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danah boyd explains teens use social media to find places to mess around and roam free. She believes children are reacting online primarily to social changes that have occurred off-line.

Perhaps children aren’t the only ones who miss roaming free and unstructured down time? Maybe adults caught in the schedule trap also crave spaces to hang out, a place where invitation or planning is not required?

For all the talk about life in this age speeding up…Twitter slows my life down. I come to Twitter to hang out, to roam a bit, to shoot the breeze …to discover. In the midst of a life that feels over scheduled and full of must do’s, Twitter is a reprieve. Twitter affords a pace I miss and recognize. This pace moves me back in charge of discovering what interests me…and perhaps the opportunity to connect with others who have the same interests. The pace stops the internal dialogue of “I should be interested in this” to I AM interested in this; I have the opportunity to hear my internal ping of interest. The space affords time and permission to watch, listen, interact, how and when appropriate….without pressure or expectation.

While information and buses continue to rush by….there is a place for us to hang out, dream, plan, or just be.

See you in the lane peeps…

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