A Tweet Up for a Twitterer

I am going to do something that I never thought I’d do.

I’m going to a “Tweet Up“.

I know it sounds mysterious and completely insane. What the heck is a “Tweet Up” anyhow???

Well folks, let me enlighten you.

There’s this crazy thing on the interweb called “Twitter.” Twitter is a website that allows people to say pretty much anything they want within 140 characters or less. It’s pretty much sweeped the Western World and has brought people together.

The way it works is simple. You sign up for an account, maybe follow a tutorial and then you go and start writing updates. Twitter allows you to search for things you like to do so you can do this and maybe find other people who have similar interest to follow. Maybe you are looking for people in your area, that can be done as well. Do you like celebrities? They are on there too and you can follow them. There really aren’t too many things holding you back from following anyone. (Unless maybe you have a restraining order, and I’m sure that there might be some sort of lax law on that too.)

The more you write, you might get people interested in following you. People are naturally voyeuristic and love to hear about other people. If you have something of interest to say, you might find that you get more people following you than you have time to follow. As finding the time to follow all the people you have can get very time consuming. Before you know it, you might be thinning out the herd and have narrowed things down to a manageable number. (My husband has a rule of thirds in this regard – but I honestly think that it’s up to the individual.)

The celebrities on twitter go from gossip columnists, to actors, to politicians, to musicians and authors. Most of which only like following other celebrities, but in the case of some such as Arnold Schwarzzenegger they have an auto follow system that immediately makes them follow you. Strangely though – I never followed Arnold but mentioned him in a tweet and he started following me. I feel oddly blessed to have the terminator reading my posts so I don’t have the heart to block him. Arnold and his team actually post too. Mostly it’s about where they are going and what they are doing, but you get to see photos of the Kindergarten Cop shaking hands with people all the time. I still don’t follow him though as this isn’t the type of person I want to follow.

As with the writing on my blog, I like to follow real people. Those that I can relate to and those that interest me. Sure I do follow a couple celebrities, but each of the four that I follow have something of interest to say – and Matthew Good actually follows me back so to me that’s telling me that I do something right.

I’ve found that by using sites such as Twellowhood I’ve been able to find other bloggers in my area and now I regularly have conversations through twitter about anything and everything. Word to the wise – use your real city in your profile. This allows you to be searched and saved under your local site and you might find people that are really interesting and can talk about local events, politics, weather or even a crazy round about or two. {To have a conversation with someone put the @ symbol before their twitter name and continue typing – this conversation can now only be viewed by the two of you and others that follow both of you – unless someone just goes to your specific wall and then they can see everything. If you’d prefer to only show the oner person – you can use the Direct Message option on the sidebar.}

You can add photos by using websites such as Twitpic or Tweetphoto. Simply sign up – register under your user name and password and you are good to go. You can set photos up on your phone by messaging with a code and it’s all easy peasy. This way if you see an interesting photo you can actually share it with the world – or if you want to show off your new hair cut – go ahead. Most photos that are posted are just of interest to a select few, but isn’t that the way of the internet? It’s a huge web and you aren’t going to like everything – but sometimes isn’t it great to see that awesome shot of a mullet or a guy wearing short shorts and suspenders shopping at Wal-Mart?

Twitter has often been compared to another social media website – Facebook. But there are some key differences. Sure Facebook allows you to post updates, but these are generally only viewable by your friends and people that you already know. You are stuck in this tiny bubble. It’s not easy to communicate with people you don’t know very well. Plus on facebook everyone that is your friend already knows more about you than you might care to share. For instance – how many people have family members as their friends on facebook? Pretty much everyone on there has someone. It’s great to share your those photos of little timmy’s first day of schoool, but that doesn’t mean that you can have complete freedom to say whatever you want. (Although we’d like to see you try 🙂 )

Sometimes you need a vice like twitter where you can just cut loose and say or be whoever you want to be. You can swear if you want to – you can truly speak out and voice your opinion. Occasionally you can get drunk and tweet nonsense. Your twitter family can choose to pay attention or ignore you. It’s a truly beautiful process.

This brings me to another point – to follow or not to follow. Your initial instinct is to follow anyone that follows you. But then you realize that the majority of Twitterers are actually robots designed to follow a) new people or b) people that mention anything that meets a certain search criteria. (If you mention porn even once, watch out as it’s an instant boost to your followers and not all of them have the best intentions.) You can do one of two things – let them follow you and say “Who cares they aren’t harming anyone” or you can block them so that they can’t follow you. Twitter staff does eventually get around to booting all the best known “bots” from the site so you will occassionally see the number of people you follow go down. Sometimes you’ll get people following you that you initially think are fine. But maybe over time you realize “This person isn’t really what I thought they were” or “Boring – they haven’t written in four months why do I still follow them?” It’s at times like these that you can just go to their profile and click “unfollow.” Poof like that they are gone from your wall and you don’t have to worry about them again.

In the age of cell phones and camera phones, why not have a portal that goes anywhere and can be with you at any time. Want to Tweet from the can – go ahead. Who’s going to stop you? Want to repeat stuff that you overheard – that’s fine too. And trust me, some of the things that people overhear is hilarious – especially when taken out of context. I think it’s great being able to share funny anecdotes of things you see or hear when you are out and about or when the mood strikes. (Such as last weekend when my loving husband saw some guy at Bulk Barn picking out only the red Blowpops from an entire tub of mixed coloured ones.) {To say something you have overheard – type OH: before whatever it is you need to repeat.}

As with any social media site, I was initially leery about opening up. I wasn’t sure how much was acceptable for opening up and just starting conversations with people. But the more you are on the site, the more you realize that it’s okay to ask people questions. And it’s okay to “retweet” something that has been said as long as you credit the original poster. In fact, it’s actually something to be proud of. If you say something that someone else feels worthy of repeating that should actually make you feel good. If they out and out rip it off from you then it’s perfectly fine to get a little upset. As said, anything goes but I warn you – you may not have as many friends as you did before. {To “retweet” someone – simply put RT before their name including the @ symbol}

My husband signed up for Twitter before me and he was pretty much instantly hooked. He was doing things that I didn’t understand and almost played twitter like a game. He was always on the look out for quality followers and people that were in his field of work. Through twitter he’s even been able to find work by connecting with people in the same field as him. He’s been kept informed about local meetings for people in his field and it’s really allowed him to branch out and find work now that he’s running his own business. He’s a web designer so Twitter has been the perfect portal for him and the Social Media MeetUps have been great for people in his field. He’s attended them in Waterloo and Guelph and has made a habit of going to these once a month meetings.

Back in the beginning of when Twitter first started taking off, some people decided that they really enjoyed talking to each other online and they wanted to see about meeting in real life. So they arranged the first “Tweet Up“. I’m not sure who started it or where and frankly, it doesn’t really matter. James has been going to the tweet ups for Waterloo Region but was slowly starting to see that they were filling up really quickly and he wasn’t able to talk to everyone that was there. You might miss out on getting to know someone in such a large crowd. I told him that maybe there will come a time when they’ll need to split up and do meet ups for Waterloo, Kitchener, Cambridge and Guelph instead of being all together. It seems that time is now.

A few weeks ago some of the people I follow on twitter were discussing a “Tweet Up” in the region. They felt a little slighted that all the tweet ups have been in Waterloo and really wanted people to come to Cambridge. Someone said “#galttweetup” and the whole idea was born. I said that I’d attend a Tweet Up in Galt as that’s where I grew up and spent a large amount of my life. That was all they needed to say “Okay fine let’s make it happen.” Someone talked with the owner of a local restaurant, they booked a date and time and then it spread throughout our little community. Not a huge amount have confirmed that they are coming, but it’s still great to see that when we want something to happen, we can make it happen. {The hash tag # has been used as a way to reference something – this can be a specific event, or a common theme. It makes things easily searchable and recognizable.}

And so I’m heading out to meet my internet friends. Sure I’m nervous about how I’ll look and if they’ll judge me. But I also think it might make my friendships deeper to put a real face to a name. Then when I talk about me wearing a red beret and eating a croissant they can get the picture of me. And when they talk about running a marathon I can see them doing it.

I am a Twitterer who uses Twitter to Tweet about things who is now going to a Tweet Up to find other people from the Twitterverse.

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