Twitter Friends…Or Something Else?

Today, in a twitter conversation with some of my network, I was marveling again at how that group has deepened my thinking and professional practice. Most of this network is comprised of people who live in other places. I don’t have too many local connections in that community, unfortunately, but I touch base daily with teachers and librarians all over the world. I know very few of them in the traditional sense though.

My thinking was stretched this morning by Dr. Scott McLeod’s post, and then the comments, on his Dangerously Irrelevant. Today he posed the question, what do we really know about the edublogger we’re sitting next to at a conference?

My thought was, what does my network really know about me? Do I reach out and share appropriately–even with my own virtual community–a community that I have chosen? Let me say upfront that I obviously don’t “produce” as much as I consume online, and in that respect, am just beginning in my journey. I’m trying to share more with my network, but constantly wonder if what I have to say is that important or interesting!

As I was thinking and reading and connecting in my nerdy middle-of-the-summer way this morning, an odd thought struck me. It has to do with a person that I consider a critical member of my PLN–a blogger, podcaster, twitterer, thinker that I have come to think of as a friend and mentor. I truly feel like I know her. I look forward to reading her thoughts on so many subjects, I love to hear what she has to share when she podcasts with others in my virtual PLN.

Now for the 2.0 part. Today she began following me on Twitter for the first time. I’ve “known” this person for years–had her voice in my head through my earbuds, read her words, cheered for her as she shared her victories with us all…and she doesn’t really know of me at all!

It just struck me how weird it must be for her when she meets someone like me, who really already thinks of her as a friend. I wouldn’t feel like I’d have to go through all the normal getting-to-know-you awkwardness if I met her at a conference. I could just pick up where her last tweet left off. Until today, she would probably be completely unaware of who I am. A very odd, one-sided thing. I guess we’re all trying to feel our way through the relationships we form in virtual communities.

I’m glad she decided to follow me though. Now, if I meet her at a conference, she’ll at least recognize my name, and maybe it won’t be quite so….creepy and stalker-ish for her! 🙂

Photo from Flickr by Always Be Cool.

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  1. Great post. A couple of quick thoughts…

    1. I think we're all consuming more than we're producing. There's only one of us, after all, and lots more of everybody else!

    2. There's often an asymmetry in our online relationships. You might read someone's blog but not vice versa. They might follow you on Twitter but you don't follow them. Sometimes that's just because it's hard to keep track of whom you're following where. It all seems to work, however, and I don't worry about it too much. I figure that there are a lot of ways people can intersect with my work if they're interested. And, if they're not, that's okay too. They'll just find someone else who better meets their needs. It's all cool… =)

  2. As always, you are insightful and thoughtful. I am continually amazed at how easy it is to feel that we know someone when our entire relationship is in a virtual place. But I am very glad to be able to feel connected to you through the years through this environment!

  3. It's an odd thing, isn't it? I feel more and more that I'm not so in step with my RL colleagues, and I'm more attuned to my global colleagues.
    I'm not sure this is a good thing. Online, I can choose exactly who I feel most kinship with and spend my virtual time with them. IRL, you can't do that–and part of me thinks that it's healthier that way! A little discomfort makes us grow in ways we might not choose for ourselves.

    Anyway, thanks for the comment, my friend. You are one RL colleague that I feel in step with–both on and offline! I'm thankful for you! My how the years have flown! 🙂

  4. I was just at BLC and someone (ugh, don't know who) said, “Isn't it great at conferences like this when you get to know someone's mind before you see their face.” That's what I feel you are talking about and it's ok. It happens all the time with authors and celebrities and even across the land of authors and celebrities they don't all know each other. I think we can know someone really well too who doesn't yet know us and that's okay too. I believe I get to know folks in much deeper ways virtually then I have in many f-2-f situations. Of course the combination of the two is ideal.

  5. It's an odd thing, isn't it? I too think I know some of my online friends better than I do some of my colleagues IRL. And many of my RL colleagues absolutely do NOT understand that! Interesting…


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