[For my non-dancing tweeps tuning in, lindy hop is a social dance wherein you physically touch another human being and dance in a way that looks choreographed, but is actually some bad-ass magic and geometry. A geek’s dream, I know.]

T o a virtual outsider, Twitter looks like a massive, disorganized online community of people chatting mindlessly with each other.

But, to an insider, Twitter has a culture.

People are obsessed with Twitter. It has sometimes confusing rules and norms. It has a social hierarchy, but it’s also an equalizer. (I exchanged tweets with @DeepakChopra the other day.) Geeks can often find their niche in Twitter, and popular people aren’t instantly good at it just because they show up.

Sound familiar, lindy hoppers?

Throwing myself into Twitter over the past year has given me flashbacks to learning lindy hop. I’m not great at Twitter. I’d say I’m a low-intermediate, moving up slowly.

It’s hard to be really big on Twitter, much like in lindy hop. Since I’ve relived the beginner experience on Twitter, I see parallels that can help you navigate the (sometimes confusing) lindy hop world.

Here are the top 4 things a lindy hopper can learn from Twitter:

The hierarchy’s not a bad thing. Part of the fun is working your way up.

Most people start off at the bottom. On Twitter, that means I had no followers, zero Klout, and no idea what to tweet.

My own empty little corner of Twitter.

Why didn’t that intimidate me? Because I’m not emotionally invested in what people on Twitter think of me. I don’t give a crap, so to speak. I was doing it to explore, have fun, and see if I could be any good at it.

Today, I’m 54 Klout and 239 followers. (For comparison, the aforementioned Deepak Chopra has 540,935 followers and 84 Klout.) I’m fine with where I am. Twitter’s fun, and truly that’s the main reason I do it.

The most successful dancers have the same attitude. Take a class for you. Practice for you. Compete for you. Divorce yourself from an insatiable desire for approval. Let it go.

You’ll move up when you’re ready, and you’ll have more fun in the process.

Learning the rules and norms does a body good.

Knowledge is power, right? If you’re feeling like a ditz on Twitter, you can read up and feel confident in no time.

Plus, Twitter changes. Sometimes in ways that annoy me if I’m not paying attention. Like in lindy hop, if you don’t keep current on conventions, you’re going to have increasing trouble relating to others.

No one likes to be irrelevant. On Twitter, you should read articles about Twitter. As a lindy hopper, taking classes, browsing Youtube, or lurking at Yehoodi are all good places to start.

There are also a lot of great lindy hop blogs, and more popping up. I like to read Swungover, Wandering & Pondering, and Lindy Hop Variations for Followers, to name only a few.

People don’t flock to you just because you show up.

In fact, often you have to work your butt off to get others to notice and take interest in what you have to say. Either on the dance floor or in the Twitterverse.

What’s this mean to the lindy hopper?

When I decide to follow someone on Twitter, I want to know what they have to offer me. Similarly, I don’t dance with people just to be their entertainment. I dance with people, listen to people, and become friends with people because they interest me.

If people aren’t responding to you, then be more interesting. Give more. Put yourself out there and try different things that showcase who you really are.

Lindy hop ain’t about blending in. Sure, I talk about learning the norms. But you can only follow conventions as far as they work for you. Emphasize what makes you unique, from what you wear to how you dance. Even how you interact with people can be unique and interesting!

Responding is as important as talking.

This is a well accepted Truth of Twitter. Generally speaking, the least popular Twitter users are the ones who only talk, or who only listen.

In lindy hop too, it’s about the conversation. It’s not what you’re personally blaring out to the world or your partner. People really appreciate when you reply to them. This could be a verbal or nonverbal “That was awesome!” Or it could be movements which complement their own.

There are an endless number of ways to respond.

I promise you, if you start showing that you are listening as much as you’re talking, your dancing will improve, and people will like you more.

Let’s sum up.

  1. Do it for you.
  2. Learn the norms to stay relevant.
  3. Be interesting, have something to offer.
  4. Listen as much as you talk.

And if you want to follow me on Twitter, go here: @RebeccaBrightly.

Do you use Twitter? What have you learned from it?