30,000.

It’s a big number.

Most numbers we deal with in life are at a much smaller scale. Speed limits, cups of coffee, street addresses, and even TPS reports (that’s transactions per/sec) aren’t usually in the 30k range.

So when I saw that I was coming up on my 30,000th tweet today I spent a few minutes reflecting upon what it all meant. The first thing I had to do was to define them in some way. So I decided to estimate that on average it takes about 40 seconds for me to write a tweet. No, it’s not that I am a slow typist, it is because most tweets are part of a conversation, so I have to spend time reading up to 140 characters before posting a reply. So, if every tweet of mine takes roughly 40 seconds of time then I would have spent 14 days of my life (since August of 2008) on Twitter.

Is that a lot? It depends. Was it worth it? That, too, depends. It depends on whether or not I can look back and find value in the time spent. I believe I can, and here are the main areas where I have found the most value for my time spent on Twitter.

1. I’m Introverted

I’ve always been a shy person, and meeting new people usually scares the hell out of me. However I am much more social online than I am in person. I know I’ve written about this before, and even told it to many of you and yet I still find myself having to answer the questions of “what’s wrong” when I appear withdrawn from a group or a discussion. Twitter allows for me to have conversations with people that I would likely never walk across a room and speak with. It helps me to break the ice, to become comfortable with someone to the point that I don’t mind meeting with them for the first time.

2. I Can’t Be Everywhere

Twitter allows for me to connect with people all over the world that I would not have been able to meet – especially if I only had 14 days in which to do so! By being active on Twitter I have been able to meet some truly wonderful people. These past four years have given me the opportunity to connect, share, and learn from many more people than if I had just sat in my cube and remained comfortable. Many times I think about all the people I have met through Twitter and it often seems as if it were not for Twitter I wouldn’t know 98% of you.

3. STS-133 and STS-134

Yeah, because of Twitter and @schierholz I got to see the Space Shuttle launch last year. Something like this doesn’t happen to me without Twitter:

I’d say that was worth the time spent, wouldn’t you? Think about all the other opportunities that exist for you to attend similar Tweetup events. Sure, nothing you go to will be as cool as a shuttle launch, but I’m sure you will find something worthwhile.

Interesting side note here…one of the people I met through Twitter, @tameraclark (rhymes with ‘camera’), is the whole reason I even knew about the NASA Tweetup. That’s like a double rainbow if you ask me.

4. Laughter

I love to laugh, who doesn’t? Twitter and social media in general allow for that to happen more frequently than ever before. Most of the time I have spent on Twitter has been spent laughing. Can you imagine being able to laugh for 14 days in a row? That sounds amazing to me. If you are using Twitter to be serious all the time then you are doing it wrong.

And the best part is that I’ve already done that.