Talking To Strangers

Since I came to Twitter, one thing has always puzzled me. We all talk to each other as though we have known each other for years but in my experience, most of us have never met.

Of all my Facebook friends, there is only 1 that I’ve never met – and I’m going on a bike tour with him in September. There is a mixture of people I went to school with, university friends, work friends, sports club friends, family, neighbours, other friends, etc, etc….

On Twitter however, I’ve met less than 10% of those I follow or who follow me. There are a few school, university friends and former colleagues but beyond that, everybody else I have met purely online in the strange world of Twitter.

Despite this lack of physical connection though, I often feel to have closer friends on Twitter than on Facebook. There are people there I can, and sometimes have, bared my soul to and who have on occasion done likewise to me. We discover each other’s likes and dislikes, loves and hates, fears and comforts in posts of 140 characters at a time yet somehow we end up as lifelong friends, helping each other out, offering comfort, sympathy, joy, laughter, you name it.

I have had discussions and conversations on Twitter that I would never have on Facebook or in real life. To me Twitter seems to have a strange anonymity that allows us to be more open with each other. Perhaps this comes from the fact that we are in a way talking to strangers. There is no past history or back story. We are not trying to maintain a perceived status or position within a social group. If we are open from the start, these strangers are choosing to follow us, or us them, with some knowledge of our position in the here and now, not who we once were.

I have found that talking to strangers has been very liberating. It has allowed me to express myself in a way that I would never otherwise would and I am grateful to all of you strangers who have taken the time to listen and help me along my journey. I hope that I can help some of you in return someday, I am always happy to listen and to talk. And if, someday, we meet up we will be strangers no more and virtual friends no more, not because we never talk again but because we will talk in the real world having already shared more than we probably would have done had we met a few years ago.

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