Have you noticed that it is nearly impossible to email your Congressman these days? You have to go through web forms, enter personal information, and on and on to send an email. If you want to send a simple message, there are faster ways, and ones that the Congressmen actually read: Facebook Wall Posts and Twitter. Most of you are already familiar with Facebook Wall Posts, so we will not dwell on that, except to say that you may have to “friend” or “like” the Congressman or Senator to be able to post on their wall.

Twitter, for a lot of people, is an enigma. It is strange, has all these “#” signs and people seem to talk in code. Well, we are here to decode it for you so you can message your Congressmen and Senators directly.

First, you need a Twitter account. Go to http://twitter.com and fill out the form on the right of the page with your name, email, and password to get an account. When you are filling out the forms, let your twitter id be public rather than private. This is important, because when you do tweet your Congressman and Senators, your tweets will be available for the world to see. If people search for your Congressman, they will see how many people are telling them what they want to happen in government. If you want to have a private account for family and friends, then set up a different account for that purpose.

So now I have an account, but what is a “tweet” anyway? Well, it is a small snippet of information that is only 140 characters or less. So, it has to be a short sentence or thought. It seems crazy that people can communicate in such small pieces of information but it really works. It is similar to sending text messages from your phone. However, rather than sending them to one particular person privately, you are allowing the world to see them.

When you jump into Twitter, it is like jumping into a stream or river of information. There is a lot of noise flowing around you and, if you listen hard, you can hear a particular noise or pattern of noise. Just like if you are in the woods by a river, if you listen hard, you might notice there is a deer nearby, drinking from the river.

To “hear” a particular sound on Twitter, people use “hashtags,” which are words with the pound symbol before them. Here are a few examples:

#tpp – Tea Party Patriots
#tcot – Top Conservatives on Twitter (which helped launch the Tea Party movement)
#sgp – Smart Girl Politics (which helped launch the Tea Party movement)
#TeaParty – generic for Tea Party followers
#stopthebleeding – Tea Party Patriots’ hashtag for our Passion to Action plan this week, to get Congress to stop the out of control overspending in DC.

If you want to send a message to a particular person, like your Congressman or a Senator, you can use the @ symbol, followed by the username (with no spaces between the @ and username) to send a message directly to that person. So if you want to tell Speaker Bohener to stop the out of control spending, you would type @speakerboehner and then the message you want to send. If you want to tell Jenny Beth something directly, you would type @jennybethm and type the message to her.

Now that you understand a little about tweets, hashtags, and how to get a person’s attention, let’s get started tweeting. You can tweet directly through the Twitter interface or through your smartphone or other programs. For simplicity’s sake, we will have you tweet directly through Twitter. So, go to twitter.com and you will see a spot to enter your tweet right under the words “What’s Happening?” We want to focus on The Supreme Court hearings on Obamacare this week, so that is what our tweets are going to focus on. Here are some examples you can type:

#Obamacare is a cancer and needs to be ripped out, #Repeal the Bill. #tpp

The American ppl have spoken N poll after poll: They wnt #Obamacare repealed. It’s time 4 Washington 2 listen. #Repeal the Bill. #tpp

#ObamaCare gives the president, 1 man, 2 much power. Where are the checks and balances? #Repeal the Bill. #tpp

#America and #Obamacare don’t mix! #Repeal the Bill. #tpp

That is all you have to do to tweet. If you want to go a step further and follow conversations, we are going to show you the simplest tools. Go to: http://search.twitter.com and search for #stopthebleeding and press Search. Now, you can see all the tweets that have used #stopthebleeding. You can reply to people or simply retweet their posts. Replying is like talking to them. Retweet is like saying you like what they said and want others to see it.

To reply, use the @ symbol again or click the Reply button below the tweet you like. A box will come up that you can use to type your reply message in. Type what you want to say and press Tweet. To “retweet” or repeat what someone else has said, you will use the abbreviation RT (for retweet). You can type RT and copy and paste everything that was said or you can simply press the Retweet button below the tweet you like. After clicking that button, you press Retweet.

So, that is how you get started. Let’s make sure everyone knows we want to #Repeal #Obamacare NOW.

If you want more information about how to use Twitter, you can read Jenny Beth Martin’s Twitter for Dummies Part 1 and Twitter for Dummies Part 2.

Here is a suggested list of Tweeple to get you started following people on Twitter: