Have you ever gone through Twitter withdrawal?

I’ve been a bit quiet the last two weeks, and really didn’t mind being mostly offline. But solitude only lasts so long. So I officially re-energized today with what I termed my “social media catch-up morning.”

Friday’s my least productive day for traditional work, so I figured I’d put it to good use digging into my RSS Reader and reengaging with my Twitter community. It’s been a great way to remind myself why I love Twitter:

1. Conversation. Well, duh, you say. But apparently lots of people on Twitter have few followers and talk to even fewer people. Don’t miss this opportunity to engage people.

2. Listening. The Twitterverse is a very organic space, and you can learn a lot about who people are and how they interact by following them for a little while. Many of the people I follow are broadly in the communications world. Yet I know who likes football; who prefers wine, beer, or tequila; and where some of you spent your Xmas break. People are sharing pieces of themselves every day; you just have to be listening. There is also amazing knowledge sharing taking place; I could get lost spending time just following links.

3. Connectedness. We all recognize that Twitter is a great source for breaking news, whether it’s a tragedy (#Mumbai) or a celebration (#inaug09). But it’s also a great resource for reaching out through our expanded networks. I was reminded of this earlier today when Katie Adams sent out a tweet looking for a contact at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. I immediately retweeted it, and it was then retweeted by two more people. Within about 5 minutes, that message had reached about 4,000 people.

4. #followfriday. For the uninitiated, #followfriday is a way for you to give a shout out to people you find interesting, fun, provocative, or otherwise worth getting to know. More than that, it’s a terrific way to make new connections. I’ve met some great people that way, including several just this morning.

My #followfriday list for today included Linda Jacobson, Kim Wells, Marc Meyer, Jeremy Meyers, Charity Hisle, and Adrian Pittman. They make my list for three key reasons: they’re smart, they’re engaging, and they’re authentic.

Which brings me to #5…

5. Authenticity. When you’re conversing in 140 characters, it’s hard to keep your mask on for very long. Twitter’s a great way to filter out the authentic from the disingenuous. It becomes a trust barometer of sorts, a way to jumpstart relationships that may start online but then filter outward and offline.

Have I left anything out? Why do you use Twitter?