For this post, I am posting my comment on the Spark CBC blog, regarding social media and friendship. Here is the link to the Spark site. I’ve talked about my personal life interacting with individuals. I’ve tried to protect their personal privacy by not specifically naming them, but from the details, some of the individuals will recognize themselves.
HI, thanks, Elizabeth, Dan and Nora for choosing to take your jobs at CBC which led you to the assignment of creating Spark. I have only got into regular podcasting listening in the last year, getting an iPhone helped. I’m been very selective to how much information I am choosing to listen to, with only six podcasts on my computer. And there is only one I must listen to, which is Spark.
As for thoughts on friendship, I think my use of Twitter has changed my life for the better. I joined Twitter initially to follow a few public figures, celebrities and musicians. I soon became a Twittaholic.
Before you tune out of my long comment, I think Twitter has enhanced my weak ties of friendship, helped me maintained old friendships and has created new friendships, some face to face, others Twitter Mention and DM to Twitter Mention and DM.
I like the fact that I can follow and communicate with interesting people I would have probably have never met in any other form. Twitter has become a weak tie networking tool for me. I care more about the people in my community, because I talk to more of them and listen to on Twitter. I have been to the two Tweetups organized in my adopted home city of Fredericton. At the last Tweetup, I met the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce and received an invite to one of their events. I had been following this lady for a while but did not know her job until I met her face to face at the Tweetup. I am interested in continuing getting to know this woman, as a business contact and friend.
It has helped me cross the political divide. I am involved in provincial politics here in NB with the NDP. Through Twitter and the Tweetup, I met a provincial Liberal involved in politics in the same riding I live and volunteer. We have had a few debates/conversations over Twitter. It has been quite cordial and non-partisan; at least I believe it’s been that way. Outside of our individual politics, it seems that we have similar interests. I would say a friendship is developing.
I am also using Twitter to keep in touch with a friend who moved away from Fredericton to Moncton. We used to hang out a lot with other mutual friends. Being busy with lots of things going on, I’ve never embraced the telephone, except as a brief communication tool; i.e. to call someone I couldn’t see face to face to get info I needed. I have avoided the phone for maintaining social interactions. So using Twitter has allowed me to keep in touch with a friend that I might have kept in touch with without it. The interesting thing is that we met in the late 1990s, met again years later, became good friends, but our face to face closeness comes and goes. Everything we are face to face or in close contact regularly, our friendship continues right where it left off.
I have also embraced Twitter as a way to engage with people I have never met, maybe never will, but relish the day I can meet them. Before Twitter, my social interaction online was limited to circles of people I already knew. For me it was the trust issue. Talking to others in chat rooms, a person can be anyone, they can embellish their real life and I cannot verify it. I don`t know why I feel that Twitter has changed that. It may be the Web 2.0 effect. People want to be known and identified, and that happens through honest conversations, whether deep or superficial. I now have followers in New Zealand and Great Britain that I converse with, on a semi regular basis. I hope someday I can travel and meet them.
And most importantly, I have a friendship on Twitter that seems to be becoming a deeper friendship. This friend lives in Nashville. I followed her because I am interested in the Christian music scene and she works for a band based in Nashville. I added her on Facebook and she asked if I was a follower from Twitter. I started reading her blog regularly. She blogs about her regular life, mixed with some band stuff, and stuff she finds interesting. We emailed back and forth a little bit, chatted live on Skype. However, our primary communication is through Twitter and the Direct Message function. On Twitter, it started like any other connection. I would RT her interesting Tweet. We talked publicly for a while and then one day, I noted that she DMed me from a public question. From then on, it’s been almost exclusively a private conversation. We see each other’s public tweets and we talk about life and whatever suits us through DM.
I look forward to the day that I can meet her and give her a big hug of friendship. She has impacted me more profoundly than many of the people I know face to face. And to me that is an important thing for friends to do.
To sum up, Twitter, being only one social media tool, has enhanced my weak ties, brought old friends together in a shared activity (we’re both building a social media brand around our identity) and created new friendships.