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Surely it must take more than 140 characters to get to know someone?

Yesterday I lost a Twitter follower, for justifiable and very admirable reasons, in fact this follower left Twitter. At the risk of sounding over dramatic, the follower wasn’t called Lyra Belacqua, but I think I now have a better understanding of how Will Parry felt when the knife was broken in the Oxford Botanic Gardens..

Now I’ve lost followers before probably due to something I Tweeted, but this particular loss felt inexplicably emotional, and was a really poignant moment. So it got me thinking about the emotional links we develop with people who in reality we don’t know, and using technology are able to share ideas with. Surely it must take more than 140 characters to get to know someone?

I find one of the greatest things about Twitter is that we are so diverse, I could not hope in a hundred lifetimes to meet and share thoughts, events and lives with so many diverse and interesting people in my living room. (or indeed on my phone). I do this most nights and find it a genuinely life enriching experience.

So, am I being too compassionate? Trying to be too empathic? Is Twitter just a shallow geeky tech development that will soon be replaced by another geeky tech development at some point in the future? I didn’t lose a real friend did I? Surely this was someone I don’t know, have never met and have no emotional attachment to who is no longer reading my Tweets. But it doesn’t bloody well feel like that!

I make no material gain from Twitter, I’m not competitive, don’t care how many followers I have, just want to have the right followers who enjoy conversing with me for the right reasons and who are not self promoters. So its not because my corporate psyche is damaged.

My professional role involves supporting a wide range of people which I strive to do to the best of my ability and yes, you guessed it, do tend to take work home and unashamedly wear my heart on my sleeve.

So, to prevent me from rambling on for too long, that’s probably it, so lets not intellectualise the language, I’m just an old softie who shared ideas and conversation with a lovely caring intelligent person and now thats over and I’m genuinely smarting. But I do still believe its possible to feel electronic empathy and genuinely like someone via Twitter, hundreds of Tweet-ups are testament to that thought, not that I’ve been involved in one yet……

Slap me round the face someone!

How about you? Am I alone in feeling like this? It would be good to hear your experiences.


About OOK_Librarian

Geek, who worries about lots of stuff


13 thoughts on “Surely it must take more than 140 characters to get to know someone?

  1. So glad I saw that tweet go by and found your blog. You write beautifully. But I did want to comment on this installment’s premise.

    You are wrong Mr. OOK. You did form an emotional attachment to your now former follower. The loss of your access to this delightful person is painful; because you care. But fear not, that will pass, and you will be left with the positive memories of your experience. And, as you report, it was not about you, but about your friend’s rational and principled choice to spend time doing something they found more productive than engagement in the lightness of Twitter.

    But is Twitter really so lightweight? We self-select our cohort and tend to surround ourselves with similar types – some to ourselves, and some to that inner self that we wish we were. Our most fascinating choices are often people we would never meet in real life, and might not want to! We’re a little more assertive on Twitter than in meat space. On the one hand, we can sit in our PJs before the screen, hair a mop, surrounded by clutter and old pizza boxes and yet seem to our tweeps to be the most sophisticated person imaginable. But for that zit on the end of our nose – which they will never see – they are essentially right. After all so many of the social clues and signals are missing on Twitter! (Thank Dawkins!)

    In another way, however, you are so right, Mr. OOK, when you say “I could not hope in a hundred lifetimes to meet and share thoughts, events and lives with so many diverse and interesting people in my living room.” You’ve captured the very essence of the allure of Twitter! All those cool people waiting there – on ones phone, or in our living room or office. I love that too!

    We all encounter people that we would like to meet in person; some who just make the right connection, scratch the right place, fill that half empty glass to half full. I admit that I have fallen in love on Twitter; and, for a little while, felt very strongly that it was a two way street. We eventually grew apart and moved on. I am fond of him still. It happens.

    I can’t imagine life without Twitter, and all I find there! As I write this on my laptop, I am in the midst of a political discussion on my iphone with a tweep in Scotland! Earlier a friend in Seychelles reported that an empty container washed up, and he “assumes it’s the pirates!” In one sunny afternoon a sweet-natured physics teacher-biker-hiker, a passionate Scottish separatist, and an English expat sharing the banality of life with Somali pirates!

    Living the dream, Mr. OOK! ;-D

    Posted by OregonMJW (@OregonMJW) | May 7, 2012, 11:40 am
    • What an elequantly well written piece. You have summed up twitter in a nutshell ! It takes away social barriers, enables us to find a brave voice, that we would never dare to us in * real life *. I’d like to say the twitter me is the true me, just braver, bolder and always has immaculate hair and make up !
      If I can ever write like you two, I would be happy x

      Posted by jomakessix | May 7, 2012, 9:22 pm
  2. Ook ! What a poignant piece. You have hit the emotional nail on the head. or should that be heart ? Its refreshing to read such an honest piece of writting. X

    Posted by jomakessix | May 7, 2012, 2:48 pm
  3. Since joining Twitter I’ve made some great friendships with people I would never have met in real life, and to me that’s the point of it. I went in with the aim of finding new friends to chat with about as diverse a set of topics as I could think of. And I’ve become attached to people, some are as close as my close friends and I really like that.
    I think of Twitter very much as a big house party full of people I haven’t met yet but with a bi of mingling I’ll get to them.
    But there is the issue of what happens if they leave, which I know will hurt, so there are a few that I also chat to through email. I’ve also had one tweetup and found a great friend. So I’m trying to hang onto a few of them.
    So yes, I think you can make great friends with a 140 character limit and think I’ve made a few, hopefully including you Mr OOK and the lovely Maren.
    Great piece btw

    Posted by mrstuff | June 5, 2012, 9:45 pm
  4. Reblogged this on Jomakessix's Blog and commented:
    Tonight Ive rebloged. A blog that touched me when it was published. This weekend, my thoughts drew back to this post, someone I now consider to be a friend has lost the love for twitter, and no longer posting. I will genuinely miss their tweets durring the day, silly chats, and words of calm when I needed them. They were’nt a big player on twittter, not that this matters at all, but a really genuine person who became my friend, who I will really miss durring the day. Maybe one day they will find their way back. This might sound stupid to some, but this is how twitter efects many, forming strong friendships.
    I know a big tweeter has also left twitter this week and he will be sorely missed by thousands. He touched many of our lives and a true friend to many. I didnt knew him too well, but still will miss his tweets and interactions.
    Enough of my words, here are some that truely say it all ! Thanks Ook and Im glad I came back !
    Thanks for reading, love as always JO X

    Posted by jomakessix | October 7, 2012, 7:21 pm

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