Women

Stef Sullivan Rewis (@Stefsull)

“My husband proposed to me on Twitter”

Stef Sullivan Rewis, 50, is a web developed and author. She lives in Arizona with her husband, two sons and two stepsons. They are believed to be the first couple to get engaged on Twitter.

“My husband Greg and I met five years ago while speaking at a conference. We decided to write a book together, and soon discovered we were incredibly compatible. At the time, he lived in Phoenix and I lived in North Carolina, which is the equivalent of living in separate countries in Europe, so we’d tried to see each other every few weeks. The rest of the time, we’d talk by phone, on Skype, instant message (IM) and on Twitter. If he was in a different time zone, he’d Skype me after dinner, put his computer next to his bed and go to sleep with it on, so I’d have him in the corner of my screen. Back in the olden days, it would have been impossible, but we were able to stay connected.

One night in 2008, when we’d been together for a year and half, we were IMing and he was talking about “when we get married”. I said, “You’re assuming a lot, you haven’t even proposed.” He went quiet, and a minute later he came back on and said, “You’d better check Twitter.” He tweeted: “ok, for the rest of twitter-universe (and this is a first, folks) – WILL YOU MARRY ME?” My reply? “OMG – Umm….I guess in front of the whole twitter-verse I’ll say – I’d be happy to spend the rest of my geek life with you.” If I’d known it would be quoted over and over, I’d have crafted my reply much better!

Two years later, we married in our back garden – my sons and stepsons tweeted the wedding. Friends and strangers followed it all over the world, and I cried reading their comments later. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

Penelope Trunk (@penelopetrunk)

“I got death threats after tweeting about miscarriage”

Internet entrepreneur Penelope Trunk, 45, lives in Wicosin with her husband and two children. In 2009, her tweet about miscarrying caused uproar in newspapers and online.

I never predict a tweet I sent would be such a big deal – to me, it seemed uncontroversial: “I’m in a board meeting. Having a miscarriage. Thank goodness, because there’s a f***ed – up 3-week hoop-jump to have an abortion in Wisconsin.”

When I found out I was pregnant, I knew I didn’t want the baby. One of my children has Asperger’s, and at 43 the chance to have of having special needs kid is high – I wasn’t sure I’d be able to cope. But here in Wisconsin, there are very few doctors who will perform an abortion – it takes weeks to get an appointment. To me, it was obvious a miscarriage would be a relief, but when I sent the tweet       , people went nuts. People said my kids should be taken away, that I should have force sterilisation, and I had death threats. A religious group called my house every ten minutes for a day. My husband sometimes worries that our lives are in danger. But I also got positive messages from women telling me their own stories, thanking for saying it. There wasn’t wide knowledge of the fact that, as miscarriages can happen over several days, it’s normal to show up at work, so it was good to educate people. Not everyone who gets pregnant wants to be. We’d all make better decisions if we discuss things openly.”

Rachel Goodchild (@rgoodchild)

“I helped save lives with a tweet”

New Zealander Rachel Goodchild is a writer. When a huge earthquake hit in Christchurch in February 201, she went on Twitter.

“When news reports of the earthquake broke, I was devastated. I’d live in Christchurch for ten years and had many friends there. 181 people died and thousands were made homeless.

I’m a single mum so I couldn’t fly down. But there was a way I could help. I was one of the first people in New Zealand on Twitter, and I have lots of followers. Tweeting was one of the few ways people could communicate, as phone lines were overloaded. I saw a Tweet from Rob Thompson (@robate) on the #cqnzhashtag. It said: “friends parents currently stuck in 2m 2302 of grand chancellor. Evacuation team missed ‘em. Anyone know how to get someone #cqnz.” The Grand Chancellor Hotel had been damaged. The stairway had fallen in, and an Indian couple were trapped. They’d called their son, who’d called everyone he couldn’t think of. Rob heard and sent that tweet. When I retweeted it, @Naly_D, who was with civil defence, saw it, and they sent the rescuers back in to find them. It was an amazing feeling. Mine was just one of many incredible stories: Twitter helped New Zealand come together.”

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