I joined Twitter on 14th September 2008. I didn’t really think much of it. I randomly saw these messages from people. I stayed away.
‘Razzdino is now following you on twitter’
Suddenly, amongst those unknown people I was following, there was a face I knew. I started having twitter conversations and sort of started liking the platform. Soon enough, I found a few interesting people to follow.
I took my time to get to know the platform, which is how it should always be. In the last one year or so, I have got to know a lot of people, made some lovely friends. There’s always a flipside to it.
When you follow someone on twitter, you know the intimate details of their life. It’s almost like you peep into their heads. Yes, you know what they eat, who they hate, which film they’re watching. You know every bit about their life as long as they’re tweeting. You end up having random conversations at odd times too. However, in the offline world, you don’t get access to such details about a person and at such regular intervals unless you literally live with the person.
You love the conversations, you love reading their updates, so obviously, the next thing you do is add these people on facebook and on gtalk. No harm done. You’ve never met them, but you do feel a connection. But what happens when you meet them offline?
I have met almost a couple of hundred people off twitter. I think I have observed enough to say this. When people who follow each other online meet offline, they end up interacting like they know each other for eons. We all have masks online, so when these two people’s online masks do not match their real-life masks, it ends up making things awkward.
Some people are just as loud-mouthed as they are on twitter, some people are as quiet as they are active on twitter, some people are far cooler in real life than they appear on twitter and vice-versa. Meeting people offline can shatter your pre-conceived notions and bajao your expectations. I agree with Bombay Addict when he says, ‘I think at some point we start expecting people to behave in a certain way. I think those expectations become a burden. I’m ok with imperfect people. I like imperfect people. They’re like me. I don’t think I can live up to anyone’s expectations and I don’t think I want to. I will be inconsistent.’
How many of us have the maturity to say this, least of all implement it? I don’t. But I am inconsistent, which brings me to my next point.
When you’re friends with someone via twitter, especially when the friendship came about quite quickly, there’s an immense pressure to be something you’re not. Friendships should evolve over a long period of time. The time gives you a chance to know the person for who they are, for the flaws that they have. It took me a long time to understand this that on twitter, you tend to share, reply politely and be the warmest person ever. There are chances that you’re not like that at all in the offline world. But someone who has managed to be friends with you via twitter, will always expect the niceties out of you. It’s not their fault. They’ve never seen your flaws.
I’ve had people throw tantrums because I had the time to attend tweetups but I didn’t have the time to socialize with them. This person had made friends with me via twitter and within a matter of weeks, she had decided that I was her best friend. When this tantrum was thrown my way in real life, obviously, I reacted the way I would in real life. She couldn’t relate to it because she didn’t know I had the ‘mind your own business’ side to me. Back then, I fumed. I really didn’t know why a person would expect me to be their best friend. Now, after the detox, I understand. She saw what I showed her and she wanted to continue to see that.
It is important to understand that relationships on twitter, however rosy they might seem, are relationships based on online personas. If you want them to be real, take it slow. I have a bunch of friends whom I have followed for years, I met them a few times and our friendship evolved slowly and steadily. These friends have lasted. Because we took our time.
Too close, too soon does NOT work.