One day last week, as I rounded a corner on the second of the two interstates that I take to work, I noticed a familiar site: Traffic was at a standstill. For miles. Stuck in the left lane with no exit for at least a mile, I pulled out my cell phone. But instead of calling the office to let them know I’d be a few minutes late, I pulled up on my mobile browser and “tweeted” that I was stuck in traffic about two miles from the office.

Twitter is a social networking service that allows users to post text updates of 140 characters or fewer visible to anyone who’s chosen to follow them. Because of the simplicity of Twitter, everyone arguably uses it differently. But since fellow Hammockites Laura, Rex, Summer, Patrick, Ben and Barbara M. choose to follow my Twitter updates, they were able to see I wasn’t at work because I was stuck in traffic. From the updates of other Nashville Twitterers I follow I soon learned the hold up was an overturned truck, and that I’d be better off exiting the interstate instead of trying to make my way through the last couple miles to my exit.

While we mainly use IM for quick conversations in the office, we can often be found tweeting at each other in response to questions we’ve posed on Twitter, varying from lunch plans to story ideas. I have often complained to the Twitter universe about how cold it is at my desk, only to be met with a retort from down the hall about the blazing inferno that is a colleague’s office. I personally find Twitter especially useful as a sounding board for story ideas, as I can get diverse feedback from the people around the world who’ve chosen to follow my updates.

But as long as I continue to have a long commute (75.2 miles round trip each day, but who’s counting?), Twitter will most likely serve as my No. 1 resource for real-time traffic updates. That is, until I learn to harness the power of wormholes and can teleport myself to work.