Most of the people I talk to these days are people I met through Twitter. I used to call them my “Twitter friends,” but once they far outnumbered my so-called real-life friends, I realized I might as well lump them all together. Besides, most of the tweeters I’ve grown close to are people I’ve met in person, many of whom I’ve hugged enthusiastically. And unlike some of the other connections I’ve forged on the internet, the friends I’ve made through Twitter generally aren’t too socially awkward to function. We tend to get along right away.
I’ve thought about this a lot, at first assuming it had something to do with how much we know about each other’s lives before meeting. That may be true to some extent, but we all revealed a lot more personal details on LiveJournal back in the day—I say “we” with the assumption that you were also part of that glorious era—and the “friends” I made on LiveJournal weren’t always such success stories. Sure, there are a few I still talk to, but for the most part I prefer to repress that time in my life. (I actually kept my LiveJournal through college—for the sake of this blog post, I’m basically pretending it died when I graduated high school. Please don’t look it up.)
But there is this sense that the people who follow me on Twitter “get me”: they care about what I have to say and, I assume, appreciate my sense of humor. And I only follow people I want to have in my life, whether as friends I actually hang out with or as people who just check in from time to time. Some of the tweeters I follow have a style vastly different from mine, but at the end of the day, we can relate in terms of ennui, internet addiction, and general dissatisfaction with the world. I think Twitter—particularly comedy accounts—attracts a certain type, and it’s a type I’m delighted to embrace.
My first interactions with Twitter people were primarily all about Twitter, and I’ll admit that I still fall into this trap. After all, who else am I supposed to bitch to about stars and follow-backs and plagiarism? But I think I’ve been able to forge plenty of friendships that extend past the “shop talk,” as it were. I’m also trying to talk about Twitter less in general, because being on the site all day is probably bad enough. And I’m more concerned with forging a real-life connection than on getting someone’s attention via @-replies. (Not that I’m over caring about that sort of thing.)
I used to think I had a hard time making friends, which I’m not sure was ever all that true. I have this conception of myself as a shy and awkward person, and while I still don’t feel terribly comfortable at parties, I’m mostly OK at making a good impression. But sometimes the internet does facilitate that—Twitter gives me an outlet to show a side of myself that I might not feel comfortable showing otherwise. (There’s a reason I don’t do stand-up comedy.) And when I make a friend in that context, they’ve gotten to know me in a way that someone I meet at a bar, for example, would not. In person, I stumble over my words. I worry too much about offending someone with a joke. I almost never use hashtags.
I’m not saying that I always want to use Twitter as an entry-way, but I will say it has given me more confidence when it comes to meeting new people. The fact that anyone gives a shit about what I tweet makes me feel like what I say matters. And so I enter conversations with a smidgen more confidence—I’m working on it—and I think about new ways to relate to people. All the great friends I’ve made have also reminded me that everyone isn’t an asshole, which sounds kind of obvious but is still a concept I have trouble with. Like I said, baby steps.
Anyway, I’m not going to name names, but if you’re reading this and we’re friends, I assume you know. Thanks for talking and listening, or for tweeting and reading my tweets—ideally, I guess, for both.