>Last night I attended an event for folks who use social media, Twitter in particular, to have a tweet-up. Those of you who follow me know of this as #ConnectingHR. It’s odd going to an event like this. You talk to these people on Twitter. You’re kind to each other, and you have an interaction of sorts. You can’t really call it a relationship because there’s no vested interest in the other party. Not really. We might help and we might offer support, but you can’t do much more virtually. But you know, in your mind, that you don’t care if these people listen to you, if you offend them, or if they like you, because they’re not real. Not really. Of course, they’re real, but you know, they’re not to you, because there’s no relationship.
And then you decide you’re going to meet up. Not just one or two of you, but all of you who talk. It’s reminiscent of the old chatroom scenarios. You remember those. Bob lives in England, Karen lives in Fiji. They talk, they think they have a spark, they agree to meet and either they find they really do have a spark, or it was all based on false perceptions. But this was nothing like that. At all.
So the first #ConnectingHR event was last year, another after that, an unconference followed, and then last night the first tweet-up of the year. Right. So I’m off to meet a group of folk who share a hashtag. WTF? Are you fucking serious? Yes. Absolutely. Erm. Why exactly? Because we’re a community. Ok. Now you’re just talking nonsense.
Am I? Twitter is where I am me. I tweet about everything under the sun. I mix personal, with professional with work with food with my children. This a) gives those following me a complete insight into who I am b) fills up timelines because I tweet so damned much. On a night like last night though, that leaves me in an interesting position. I knew there would be folk there who actually read my tweets. They respond – actively – to what I say. For whatever reason they do this, they do this. I’m grateful for that. So going into the pub, the first thought that struck me was – Fuck. This is like going on a blind date where the other person actually knows an awful lot about you already, but they have no idea who you are. And having a Twitter handle such as @LearningGrump (nee @naturalgrump) makes things even more interesting as often folks just have their names as their handles, so mine is a bit more distinctive than most.
And then we say hello. And you look round the room recognising folk. Bob! Billy! Ben! And you connect immediately. Because you already know each other. Because all you’re doing is putting faces and real people to the names. And you find they’re just as wonderful in real life as they are on Twitter. I didn’t need to meet these folk in real life to help me know I have a supportive community. It’s helped, as now I can associate better with all of them. More importantly, though, I can now build relationships with them.