How To Use Twitter To Tweak Your Relationships At Home

Have you ever wondered if Twitter could improve things at home? In this post, Corey Allan (follow him at @simplemarriage) of The Simple Marriage Project and Parent To Launch explores the idea of using Twitter to get more out of family relationships.

With the addition of social networks in the past few years, it’s amazing how easy it has become to stay “connected” to other people. I’m currently only on Facebook, FriendFeed and Twitter. But with countless other avenues to use for connection, how could these mediums be used to improve, or perhaps even save your relationship with your significant other?

I realize that many people use Twitter for the networking or marketing aspect of its design. It’s a great way to generate a buzz about a product or service you can provide. It’s also a way to expand your network of influence and influencers.

But what if Tweets were used to tweak your relationships?

Pardon me while I wax stereotypically for a moment. Twitter may resonate more with men than women, since most men would rather cut to the chase. But there are many women who could use the format of Tweeting to enhance their relationships. Twitter could also be a means to improve parenting as well.

Allow me to explain.

My family of origin is cursed/blessed with the gift of detail over-provide. You know what I mean, you call home to say “hello” and are given every little detail about the day/week/month, and maybe even year (that’s a long phone call). What they ate for lunch, what’s on TV, even the episode, on and on it goes.

My wife’s family on the other hand, doesn’t have this “gift” to the same degree as mine. So early on in our marriage I was often greeted with the phrase, “get to the point.”

Enter Twitter.

With a maximum of 140 characters, Tweets require the necessity of laser-like messaging. There’s no room for extraneous details.

While face to face conversations may provide a bit more connection and understanding, the extra details can get in the way. Whether both you and your significant other use Twitter for business, to connect with family, or each other, it can be a great way to improve your relationship. It may even be a way to save it.

Here’s a few ideas how:

1. Focus on what’s important.

Messages on Twitter are short and to the point, forcing you to focus on what’s most important and get to the heart of the matter between you. As a bonus, whenever I fall into the detail over-provider during face to face conversations with my wife, she can now respond with “Tweet that!”

2. Stay connected throughout the day.

With Twitter’s ability to send direct messages, this is another way to stay in touch throughout the day. You could send short messages, plan out an evening, ask them out on a date, write a poem, or simply write “I love you” 12.72 times.

3. Team parenting as a way to grow closer.

With Twitter’s DM feature you could easily connect and co-parent throughout the day as issues arise. Since children are so gifted at playing one parent off the other, tweeting is another one of many ways to combat this and stay informed as parents. Plus you’d have a record of your communication, further decreasing the likelihood of your child’s ability to twist what one of you say in order to get their way.

4. Collaborate with other parents/couples.

Now I’m not recommending that you air your family’s dirty laundry with this idea. Instead, what if you used your Twitter followers to collaborate with when it comes to date ideas? Or parenting assistance? I’ve seen several conversations on Twitter about gift ideas and ways to celebrate special occasions.

Could it be that there is a valuable resource waiting to be tapped into in order to get more out of marriage and parenting? Try a little experiment with tweeting each other and see the impact you observe in your relationship. You could even Tweet it so others could share in your experience!

PS from Darren: When Corey pitched me the idea for this post I have to admit my eyebrows were a little raised – I’ve heard of Twitter coming between partners but enhancing a relationship? Since then I’ve talked to a few different Twitter users whose partner tweets and they say that it has worked well for them.

I’d love to hear the experiences of those who’ve tried to use Twitter within a family or relationship.

Comments

  • December 22, 2008

    I hate to say this but ‘different strokes for different folks’ applies here.

    Whether one uses the phone or electronic tools or Soc Networking depends very much on the relationship one has with one’s family and extended family. I come from a tightly knit but huge extended family spread across 4 continents and a dozen or more countries. We have kept up through the last 2 decades of being all over the place and continue to keep up without the need for ‘abstracting (the model) for replication’. The ‘ambient intimacy’ of Facebook is useful but it needs reinforcing with actual phone calls to ensure some special connections remain special and do not become on par with one’s virtual relationships with blog readers or Twitter followers etc. I also do not see the point of non-family seeing what we may be discussing (unless one sets up >1 identity).

    Oh, and some of us still write long letters on good quality paper with fountain pens, add prints of photos and cuttings from magazines and post them for a surprise that comes through the post and does not require a login to enjoy. :-) They are also much welcomed by relatives in their 80s whose eyes are failing and who love to feel the paper and smell the smells and run their finger along the outlines of faces they love and adore.

  • December 22, 2008

    This blog is so just in time with what I am part of, a movement to bring parents closer to their children by embracing technology. Thank you so much for this post. There is a growing divide at the dinner table, kids texting while eating and ignoring their parents and parents becoming hostile towards technology and insecure that it’s passing them by and blaming it for the lack of communication they are having with their kids.

    We’re going to bridge the growing parent/child gap by using Twitter, IM, Social Networking to bring families together at the dinner table and throughout the week.

    It all starts at the dinner table. We can’t rebuild this country without starting at home and why not make technology servant to us for a change.

  • December 22, 2008

    And as for some of those intrafamilial communications that go public, I’ve enjoyed getting a glimpse into vibrant, active families. No joke, I derive comfort and hope from reading tweets about families sitting down to dinner and attending school plays, etc. Nice balance to the world of commerce.

  • December 22, 2008

    I concur Shefaly. Anybody that uses twitter to replace just picking up the phone has other issues that need to be addressed. I hope I never manage or foster a personal relationship via twitter.

    Twitter is just the current in ‘thing’. I also use facebook, linkedin, myspace, etc. None of these case replace fostering a great relationship in person or on a phone. Stick to that people and your life can be so much more rewarding than what you can ever express in 140 characters.

  • December 22, 2008

    Corey:

    Do you have any statistics to back up the “Twitter resonates more with men than women because it’s short and to-the-point” statement? You could just as easily stereotype the other way and say that women chatter more and so prefer Twitter. (Either way it’s a straw man argument that won’t win you any debating points, but that’s another story.)

    I think your list of tips is excellent, but the opening premise is both unnecessary and insulting to both men and women. It assumes that men can’t elaborate and women can’t stay on point.

  • December 22, 2008

    Oh I love this tip!

    Funny, the other night my husband and I were both on a computer checking our Facebook page. I saw him wrote something on his wall, and thought it would be fun to quickly comment so I did. That was fun. He noticed my reply and commented “I can’t believe I am writing on facebook wall to talk to the women next to me in the room” or something like that. We had a laugh and our friends enjoyed that tiny Facebook conversation.

    But back to Twitter, I think the points shared here are very useful. I will once again try to convince my husband to register at Twitter :)

    Aloha,
    Liza
    http://www.amauiblog.com/

  • December 22, 2008

    Interesting concept. Definitely would make you get down to the point. Family would work better together.

  • December 22, 2008

    I twitter and my SO reads my updates on Facebook once or twice a day. I find it kind of strange to have someone know all my updates but yet they weren’t talking to me during the day. Feels a bit like eavesdropping even though I don’t mind him (and everyone else) knowing that information.

  • December 22, 2008

    Over the past 6 months I’ve become increasingly intrigued with Twitter as a tool for generating different kinds of value for my business and blog. During this time my wife has looked at me with curiosity and amusement. She is a stay at home mom taking care of 3 kids. She loves Facebook, but could not get her head around Twitter.

    The other day she signed up for a Twitter account. She is following one person. Me. She now sees my tweets, which are mainly about “inbound broadband”.

    She still looks at me with curiosity and amusement — and she is not likely to author and Tweets soon. But at least she knows me a little bit better — and says she still loves me.

    Twitter is good for marriage — at least in my book.

  • December 22, 2008

    @shefaly you bring good insights about differing relational dynamics for each family that is unique. maybe the post could be framed as: here’s an example of how one family grow their relationship over twitter, or here’s some ways that could help somr families to relate over twitter; and doing so gets more verbose and on a blog or in twitter where u have to speak in 140 chars or less, much easier to type here’s how to…

    having just gotten my 11yo a cell phone, it’s added a new dimension and added to our relationship; a whole other side of him gets expressed in a <140 char txt , and we parents have enjoyed reading that side of him

  • December 22, 2008

    There are times where this would work, for instance just before the big game or when I am about to kill the boss on Quake 3.

    Great!

  • December 22, 2008

    Wow, IMO this might cause some distance won’t it, rather than talk in person, they will wait till they can tweet it. But seems a nice way to be spontaneous with your partner to send a tweet saying ” I adore you” etc…

  • December 22, 2008

    Nice post,

  • December 22, 2008

    @Kat- I don’t have any stats for this idea, this is based solely on my observations and discussions with several other Twitter users. Thanks for your feedback.

    @Christhian- I hope people wouldn’t wait until they could address something via Twitter rather than in person. But there are many things we can put in between other people if we don’t want to address something.

  • December 22, 2008

    Great perspective on the use of Twitter. Pretty unique. I do think it is a fair set of ground rules for behavior at the 140 board.

    George

  • December 22, 2008

    My husband and I use Twitter to keep in touch during business trips — sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally.

    My husband uses Twitter a lot with his peers in the tech industry. When they are at events, they’ll Twitter where the next round-table, dinner or event is at in the evening. If I see that my husband is doing a lot of Tweets to a lot to the other members of his group about an event, I know he’s out that evening and not to worry if he doesn’t call.

    Likewise, the DM function is useful if one of us is in a crowded or noisy place and can’t sneak away to call in a good night.

    We like to think of ourselves as a true 21st century couple.

  • December 22, 2008

    I stay in touch with my neighbor when he is out on the road. The other day he sent a DM to turn off a drip system in his garden. Now that is high tech usage of twitter!

  • December 23, 2008

    Curioso, well i did thin twitter could help in that case but its wort try it out.

  • December 23, 2008

    What an interesting take on expanding twitter’s usage. I know of a husband and wife team that use twitter while sitting together to communicate to others. I wonder how their dates are…LOL.

  • December 23, 2008

    Interesting…I recently joined Twitter and own an online magazine for couples and singles. I made the decision to try something different and use Twitter to help others improve THEIR relationship. Rather than twitting about what I’m doing/reading/thinking, I twit out advice and romance tips for couples or singles. Sometimes I’ll twit a new article I’ve posted, but it’s mostly romance, dating and relationship tips that followers will receive throughout the day and can use right away. Because it’s such a public forum, I personally wouldn’t want to use twitter to discuss parenting or send love messages to my partner.

  • December 31, 2008

    Twitter has actually helped my relationships with friends and loved ones and has been instrumental in forging new alliances. Most of my circle now Tweets instead of SMS since the conversation and dialog is very much universal.

    And for those who are concerned with privacy. Direct Message (or DM) is really a great option.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.