“These people you tweet,” she begins. “Do you know these people?”
I hear so many variations of this theme. I read an educator (on Twitter no less) say that it was important kids learned to negotiate ‘real’ — that is face to face, geographically close — relationships before they could be expected to make sense of social media.
But actually it is a fascinating insight. No wonder people think social media is silly, not only is everyone tweeting about what they had for breakfast… but these breakfast tweets must be originating from non-entities. Unknown, perhaps unknowable.
I shouldn’t be so dismissive. I realise not everyone has had the same experiences I have been fortunate enough to have.
I have a confession…
I Love My Computer — All My Friends Live There
Do I know these people? Yes, well most of them at any rate.
Michael and Annabel are literally my dearest friends on the planet. I knew neither before Twitter, and I doubt I would have come to know either without Twitter. There have been madcap trips to Brisbane. There was that time we went to that Japanese restaurant in Sydney. Phone calls, texts, tweets (of course tweets), direct messages. Michael would routinely talk me down from metaphorical ledges when I’d reach my breaking point last year (I was studying three courses simultaneously, often spending 12 hours on campus a day, it was completely insane).
They have been the corner posts of my life for years now. I can’t even begin to explain how much I owe to their friendship, in good times and bad. In life changing moments, they are always there. Even if they are hours away, or interstate.
I know Cindy. She is the most faithful reader this blog has ever had. She has sent me a copy of one of her books, and she has purchased a book of poetry I was featured in while ago. I am currently in the process of creating a cover so that one of her ebooks can be bound and printed. One day I went out looking for writers with blogs and I was lucky enough to happen upon hers. I had forgotten this but she reminded me recently that the first question she ever asked me was, “What is social media?”
There have been morning pages and WIPs (Works In Progress), moments of creative doubt and moments of creative triumph. I don’t write as much as I used to, but I am constantly astounded and inspired by her. Truly a kindred spirit in so many ways.
I know Sam too. I know Sam from my YouTube days, from his live shows on the now defunct video chat site Stickam. I remember emo discussions about singlehood at Stickam. But I also remember watching his wedding being live streamed too. He and his beautiful wife Amanda are now expecting their first child.
Sam has a funny way of popping up, whether in the background of episodes of Drew Carey or as the strong silent type ‘Raz’ on Tim and Eric. I loved his live show, especially hanging out with the beautiful and talented Natalia Reagan.
I know Josh too. I’ve had the opportunity to watch him go to from ‘radio wannabe’ to breakfast radio personality in Esperance, West Australia, to co-host of the very popular podcast The Thing Committee. He kindly did the voice over for my old podcast. We’ve exchanged books; I don’t know if he ever did manage to ‘profit’ from that blogging book I sent him. He too had emo moments of singlehood and like Sam is now married to a lovely lady.
There are literally hundreds of others I could name, people who I know via the Internet, people who I’ve come to know, over time, often over 140 characters at a time.
[Quoting Marshall McLuhan] “In the electric age, when our central nervous system is technologically extended to involve us in the whole of mankind and to incorporate the whole of mankind in us” — make that ‘humankind’ — “we necessarily participate, in depth, in the consequences of our every action.”
That’s what we all fear, it’s what we all long for, I think, that somehow even the small things can be meaningful. Anyone who watches a Twitter stream during an Iran election wants to feel this way.