Twitter “friends”

A quick plug for this blogpost from @TheNatFantastic who is someone I almost met in 2011 but didn’t quite… In the post she lists people she met via Twitter in 2011, ie met in real life, quite a few of whom I’ve also met during the past year.

Too often people who don’t use social media but who want to squeeze yet another tedious column out of it will argue that it’s a substitute for real life relationships, that people are all trapped in their own little boxes, probably still wearing their pyjamas at 4 in the afternoon, talking to virtual ‘friends’ online, thinking that they’re really bonding with people they’ve never met. And that they should get out and get a life. Nat’s piece proves just the opposite – that Twitter is a great way of making new friendships and in staying in touch with them afterwards, and, who knows, perhaps making good things happen as a result of that. I’ve been to gigs in 2011 with people I’ve met over Twitter, I’ve kept in touch with people I’d otherwise only bump into once or twice a year, and I organised a widely-accepted to have been absolutely fabulous Tweet up at Labour conference where hundreds of Labour tweeters met each other for the first time. (Which reminds me, got to get a venue for Labour 2012 tweet-up sorted). It’s also clear from my timeline that there are loads of people out there, Labour activists in particular, who ‘met’ through Twitter and have since formed firm friendships.

I have got rather fed up with Twitter at times during 2011, especially not being able to shake off that damn stupid ‘Twitter tsar’ tag (journos, please call Louise Mensch instead if you want a Twitter quote, or Tom Watson or Stella Creasy or any one of the 300+ MPs on Twitter who might actually have something original to say about it) and also the increasing tendency for otherwise very nice people to spam tweet requests to sign a petition, or RT a link. I probably follow at least 200 MPs on Twitter, so if I also follow you and you’re tweeting every single MP individually about something, well that’s 200 tweets in my timeline that I don’t really want to see… And it doesn’t really work as a way of mobilising people to your cause. First rule of lobbying – you need to build relationships with your ‘targets’ first. One MP who cares is worth 20 who reluctantly RT.

I also get quite a lot of private requests – by DM, email or text (the over-enthusiastic new-to-Twitter colleague who kept texting me about his great tweets at 7.30am has now learnt NOT to do that) – to RT things, which can in the end make Twitter feel rather too much like work. RTs should be a spontaneous thing, of thinking something’s great and deserving of wider attention. Admittedly I don’t see everything that comes into my timeline – I follow too many people and don’t spend all day on Twitter, contrary to popular opinion – and so I don’t mind the occasional attempt to make sure something comes to my particular attention, but at times it gets out of hand. And if your whole feed is RT-ing things, then I think people get a bit bored…

But anyway, roll on 2012 – and hope I’ll be on Nat’s list this time next year. Will have to be on my best behaviour when we meet.

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  • MJ Ray  On December 30, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Are Labour repeating the mistakes made with old media, thoughtlessly letting the private sector mediate/control the communications and not joining common-ownership spaces like diaspora?

    I’m glad you’re using wordpress though!

  • Quietzaple  On December 30, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Careful Kerry … Any more proscriptive and the Dully prints will put you head to head with Tom Harris …

  • nilsinela boray (@northernheckler)  On December 30, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Happy New Year Kerry

    I wouldn’t be in Labour if it wasn’t for talking to you on Twitter. Not seen so many people in the flesh of late though – I’m never going to get to conference, it just runs at the wrong time for teachers (unless you’re Katherine Birbalsingh I guess !), Any chance of a Labour tweet up at some other time ? I dropped a few hints on Twitter before Christmas but no one was biting, maybe the ex-Tsarina will have more sway ?

    • kerrymccarthy  On December 30, 2011 at 5:59 pm

      Every now and again i get urged to organise a tweet up. I was going to do a Xmas one but I was just to busy and others didn’t step into the breach… Will see what I can do, maybe in the spring. Any significant dates spring to mind?

      • nilsinela boray (@northernheckler)  On January 1, 2012 at 8:14 pm

        It might be a bit soon but the Fabian New Year Conference on Sat 14th Jan would catch a lot of people who otherwise might not be in London. Still toying with whether to go to that one.

        Thinking about it the Fabian After-party doesn’t exactly sound all that Rock ‘n’ Roll does it ? (Good name for a band though)

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