Whatever it's called, however it's covered (even if it does sometimes feel as if reporters are observing exotic animals and describing their findings), this dynamic, accessible, energetic community has really changed my life.
It's where I healed from my father's death, had a breakthrough and found out what I was put on Earth to do.
That's no exaggeration, either. The other day, one of the young women in a jail-alternative program where I'm a life coach asked me how I discovered my purpose. I replied, "Twitter." She looked at me and laughed.
"Can you explain that?" she asked. "Cause Twitter is ratchet."
"Twitter is what you make it," I replied.
I believe that because, just a few years ago, I found myself trying to navigate my 20s while I was depressed, and really just wandering aimlessly through life. My father, my biggest cheerleader, had passed away suddenly. I found myself alone in the big city. (I'm born and raised in Lancaster, Texas.) I was signed with a modeling agency, but I wasn't satisfied. I was desperate for some sense of normalcy, even a bit of escapism.
Sad as I was, I guess I still talked a lot. A friend said to me, "Pervis, you've got a lot to say. Why don't you join Twitter?" I took a look and didn't fully get it—and I certainly didn't know there was a "black Twitter"—but I knew one thing instinctively: Your tweets are a part of your legacy.
I created an account and began tweeting just as I began to pull myself out of my depression. I stuck to what I knew best during that time—the glimpses of inspiration and perspective that were allowing me to shake off my dark mood and sense of hopelessness. I had very few followers, but those who were there consistently retweeted my insights. Honestly, for the first time, I felt that my voice was being heard.
We all seek significance in life, and for me this was it. I was addicted. And I was slowly becoming myself again.
My breakthrough came when an executive I used to work for—someone I truly looked up to—approached me and told me how much one of my tweets had meant to her.
I still remember that tweet: "Never be wed to an outcome, because you miss the blessing when you expect it to happen a certain way #pervisprinciple."
My father, before he passed, prophesied that I would write books that would be read around the world and help people. And, you guessed it—he was right.
My first book (I've now written two) is titled Pervis Principles Volume One: A Daily Meditation Mini-Book. Geared toward teens and young adults, it offers daily messages for inspiration and reflection, just like the ones I'd been providing online.
Soon after it was published, a follower of mine asked me to come speak at her school and conduct a workshop. That led to the opportunity to deliver a graduation speech. Keep in mind that this all began on Twitter—"black Twitter," to be exact.
Next, I got a chance to speak at Yale University through a Twitter connection. It's also what brought me to that jail program I mentioned, where I'm a life coach. Never had I thought that I would discover my career and passion all from social media.
I'm in awe when I think of the strong presence African Americans have on Twitter, and the potential for connections and supporting one another that's at our fingertips and has already provided so many with that introduction, friendship or platform they never would have had access to without it.
Sure, I laugh at the tweets making fun of celebrities and what my student would call "ratchet" stuff. But more important, I treasure Twitter as a place for self-exploration and valuable networking.
That's why I'm so much less concerned about what people say about this tool than I am about how we can use it. Love it or hate it, black Twitter changed my life.
Pervis Taylor III is an author, life coach and speaker. He's the author of Pervis Principles Volume 1 and Pervis Principles Volume 2 and creator of the related mobile app I-Inspire. He resides in New York City. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.