Last week I visited a company I’m thinking of partnering with for an upcoming project. The owner was takes me on a tour of the office, introducing me to all of his employees.
“You look familiar,” one of them tells me. We shrug at each other and I continue my tour.
Later, we end up in the boss’ office for a meeting. The guy I had met hands me his card. I glance at it briefly and his last name catches my eye.
“I know how I know you!”
“How?” He asks.
“We’re Twitter friends!”
“Oh, yeah,” he is studying me. “Your handle has something to do with a big cat…”
“Puma,” I tell him.
“That’s right, Puma.” He smiles.
I smile. We are buddies. Sort of. I have never met most of my Twitter friends, but some of them – the active, intelligent, interesting ones – I really do feel close to in a way. I listen to them vent about their day, I read the articles they pass along, I laugh at their jokes, albeit alone in front of my laptop. Is it possible to feel an actual human connection with someone I have only spoken to 140 characters at a time?
I should mention here that I hate Twitter. Really, I hate it. And if you asked why, I would tell you that it’s the social media channel that gets the most crap filtered through it. People use it just to toot their own horns, or to pass along an endless stream of links to articles from their Google alerts without ever actually ‘saying’ anything. Or – even worse – there are those people that say too much: posting every 90 seconds for hours at a time. My stream is filled with so much information on their favorite quotes, unusual sandwich order, or 3 paragraphs of musings on any topic, disseminated one sentence at a time, that I never get to hear from anyone else. It’s exhausting. And to be honest, (at the risk of making myself out to be a total social media outcast) whenever I reply to a tweet or actually care enough about something somebody wrote to send a direct message, the recipient almost never writes back.
So, I hate Twitter. I still monitor it constantly, tweet on it frequently, and of course, help all my clients set up profiles, but I secretly hate it. Don’t judge.
During the meeting, my friend is telling me that he recently saw Scott Stratten speak. Scott Stratten used to hate Twitter. Now he’s one of the top influencers in the world on Twitter. (It says so on his website.) What changed? Apparently, Scott decided to make one huge 30-day push to be super-involved, tweeting constantly, and during that time, he fell in love.
That could never happen to me, I think. What I say is: How interesting! (You can’t ignore someone in person like you can on Twitter.)
I sit through the rest of the meeting, say my goodbyes, and get in the car to drive to my next meeting. On the way, my smart phone beeps. I check it. It’s Twitter – I have a mention. A mention! I open it immediately. It’s my meeting friend saying it was nice to meet me. I reply: It was nice to meet him; we should have coffee. Send. Beep! He replies: How about next week?
Here we were, having a nice exchange, setting up a social outing – just like people used to do on email!
I reply: I’m traveling next week, but maybe when I get back. Send. Beep! He says: Sounds good. Beep! He says: Here’s a link to my latest blog post. I click. I read. I comment. Then I tweet: Good post! I wait. Beep! He replies: Thanks!
We’re chatting in real time, almost like a phone conversation. Beep! New follower alert. My friend’s boss is now following me on Twitter. Beep! New mention. He says: Thanks for coming by. I reply: Looking forward to working together. Beep! He replies: Me too!
I arrive at my next meeting and check into Foursquare. I make a witty comment about my location. Beep! My new friend re-tweets my witty comment.
Damn, I think as I get out of the car, Twitter is fun!
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