Wednesday, 2 November 2016

An Ode to Twitter Friends

Having recently spent a post and your time discussing how having guests over has helped me figure out important facts about my identity, I would like to note another discovery made through the same visitors. To start with the TLDR summary: it's to do with the importance place my Twitter "friends" hold in my life.
There is no real eye opening insight to be had in the rest of this post. It was simply a case of me noting how often my reply to a certain question or my contribution to a conversation would start with "according to this person I know from Twitter...". When this happens as often as it did/does then it is clearly beyond the realm of statistical errors and firmly into meaningful parts of my life.
I discussed Twitter before and mentioned it being great because it allows me to tap into the lives of people I look up to for one reason or another. Say, favourite authors (e.g., John Scalzi), favourite intellectuals (e.g., Leslie Cannold, Richard Dawkins), favourite journalists, etc. But there is more to Twitter than that.
I now propose the extra spicing comes from interacting with Twitter people. True, I never held a meaningful interaction with Scalzi or Dawkins over Twitter (nothing beyond a simple reply or a "like"). I did, however, hold meaningful interactions with plenty of others. And over time, some of these others have established a firm hold on my personality, to the point that although I am well aware of the fact I will never hold a meaningful face to face relationship with them (at least nothing more serious than randomly bumping into them), I do consider them friends. Or at least important stakeholders in that entity that is legally referred to by my name.
I do not believe the dictionary offers a word to describe such "friends" with. I was suggested the term pen-pals, but I do not know if that applies here. What I do know is that through these interactions with people my world has grown so much bigger. Using Twitter, this run of the mill male gets to see the world through the eyes of women, gay, religious, philosophers, feminists, writers, InfoSec experts, and much much more. If there is a niche one is interested in, eventually one would find a venue for two way interactions in that area with someone over Twitter.
The scary thing is that all this might come to an abrupt end if Twitter's plans for selling itself come true and, instead of being the great tool it currently is, Twitter establishes itself into yet another tool in the surveillance / online advertising economy. Indeed, Twitter seems to be its own worst enemy; instead of enjoying being the tool it managed to have become, Twitter - the company - is trying way too hard to become something it's not in order to "increase share holder value". File under capitalism failure.
For now, I will enjoy the present and thank all my Twitter friends for making a difference. A personal difference on yours truly.

I will note the above was written prior to Twitter's announcement about the end of Vine's life.

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