Monday, November 30, 2009

Defining Identities

Twitter is a great social media tool for meeting people from around the world. What you find is that you make contacts with people who are similar...and yet not. You have that one thing in common that binds you, compared to so many things that are different.

I have many "followers" (that's what Twitter calls your network of friends) who live in Israel, as I do...and a whole world of people who do not live in Israel. I have many who are Jewish, as I am...and a whole world of people who are not of the same religion. There are many who are mothers, fathers, sons and daughters of soldiers, and many who are not.

Ultimately, the beauty of social media is that you reach outside your natural borders and touch others. It began, in many ways, with this blog. I started it for myself, as I have told so many. Elie was 19-years-old and going into the army. It was a reality he had lived with since we moved to Israel when he was barely six years old.

He grew up with the knowledge that he would go into the army, as almost all young men (and women) in Israel do. Each year, it came closer and each year in school and among his friends, it became more of a reality...except to me. I was blind to it - intentionally and blissfully.

Somewhere around two months before he went in, it hit me and hit me hard. There was no more denying, no more avoiding. It became a part of me and where our family was heading.

Elie went into the army in March, 2007. This coming March (2010), he will finish his service...and, as fate would have it, our second son will be inducted into the army the very same month. So what does this have to do with Twitter and defining identities?

This morning, someone posted a tweet (a Twitter message) about a new Twitter application. These are fun little tools that you run and they tell you something - where most of your Twitter followers are, what Twitter grade you get, etc. etc. This one, compares all the words you have tweeted and tells you the most common ones. They are calculated and then displayed in a "tweet cloud."

I was curious and so I followed the procedure, amused by the warning, "If you didn't screw up on the above two steps click the "make and tweet cloud" button to generate your tweet cloud."

Here's the results...the words that are most common in the messages I share with people (in the following order):

# israel # people # israeli # thanks # goldstone
# love # report # world # gaza # home
#jerusalem # hamas # hope # peace # amazing
# soldiers # free # iran # news # shalit # army
# thank # life # sorry # attack # believe
# shabbat # live # soldier # human # rocks
# rocket

I think what I like are the words that flow together. All in all, there is a common theme to my posts there on Twitter (and I guess here too). Israel is very much a part of our lives, Jerusalem not just a place where I work, but a city that I love. We dream and hope for peace, and trust our soldiers and the army to defend us against endless attacks. I like that love and life and live are in my top few words, as are peace and thanks.

I guess without meaning to, often the words we use repeatedly do often define our lives, our dreams, our hopes and that which we cherish most.

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