/// Social media users are plenty thankful for Twitter
In a world of constant Facebook updates, dozens of daily Instagram posts and a seemingly never-ending stream of tweets, it might seem odd to be thankful for the ever-prying eye of social media.
However, for some people, those 140 characters have been life-enhancing, and they’re grateful for having a lightning-fast way of staying connected to the world around them.
Cleveland restaurateur Chris Hodgson, for example, was able to recover his stolen food truck last month when he put out a digital APB on Twitter. “I sent out one tweet and said, ‘Food truck thief, I’m gonna find you! If anyone sees the truck, please let us know.’ Within about 30 minutes, we had one of our fans e-mail a picture of it and told us where he had seen it.”
Hodgson, 26, adds that his business has been able to boom because his more than 11,000 Twitter followers (spread over three accounts) are able to follow his food trucks wherever they go.
“In Cleveland, it wasn’t a big foodie scene, there’s not a lot of other trucks, and so there really was no way to spread the word about who we were other than Twitter and keep people posted on our location,” Hodgson says. “Twitter became our lifeline to start our business and really, really I give Twitter and Facebook credit for launching our career into food trucks, and now we have seven restaurants and a catering company in just a very short amount of time.”
And, getting help from Twitter isn’t all food truck rescue and growing a business. It also came in handy when Alexandria, Va.-based accessibility analyst Catharine McNally, 29, found herself unable to engage at a Town Hall Meeting at the White House last year because she’s hearing-impaired.
McNally has cochlear implants, but because of background noise and difficulty reading President Obama’s lips at the event, she found herself at the moment, but didn’t feel like she was in it.
“I remember feeling left out and thinking, ‘Man, this stinks! I’m deaf and I can’t understand what he’s saying and this is such a cool experience, but I don’t know what’s going on,'” she says.
But by following an event-specific hashtag on Twitter, she was able to rejoin the conversation.
“I would see a tweet about one point that (Obama) would make, and I would look that up and I would be able to catch up to what he was saying and then continue the conversation,” McNally says. “If I missed something, I’d look back at the feed, and so in some ways, it became my personal captioning device. I didn’t need to ask the person next to me for reiteration, which can be kind of intrusive.”
Obviously, the power for good isn’t lost on the folks at Twitter, who are “pretty humbled” by stories like those of Hodgson and McNally, says Rachael Horowitz, a senior manager for the site.
“What is so special about (Twitter) is the way that it removes historical barriers around communication and gives voice to people and things that have never happened before. When you remove those barriers, anything can happen and we see really amazing things happen all the time, whether it’s entire political movements abroad or one stranger helping another stranger,” Horowitz says. “You never know what every day will bring when people around the globe are able to connect in real time and have a voice in a way that they didn’t before.”