Mar 18, 2011

My Real Name?? (and other marvelous nuances of a tweetup)

My very first TweetUp has come and gone and I am already hungry for another one. I suspect, however, that no other tweetup could compare to that of a NASA sponsored one. 100+ twitter and space geeks snuggled into a room at NASA HQ Washington, DC with Astronaut Doug Wheelock at the helm. Well, yeah, that's gonna be hard to beat.

Through the online twitter-chatter prior to the event, I had zeroed in on a few tweet peeps I wanted to meet. About 5 of us began chatting about our hopes and goals for the event and I enlisted them to help me with a cupcake review of DC Cupcakes following the TweetUp. Twitter is an interesting experiment in building friendships, the closeness that comes from joking and sharing dreams and chatting in the middle of the night, with people you've never seen or met before. So actually meeting these people in person, in real life can be daunting, a little anxiety producing and generally awkward.......

As I registered, people began arriving slowly. There was that familiar looking into one's eyes, wondering "is that @Tinacan25 or @spacekate?" Trying to compare the eyes, the hair, to the 1/2” twitter profile photo I've come to think of as friend. There's the slow approach and seemingly careless question, “so, what's your name?” “Um, you mean my real name or my twitter name?” I shrug, “both.” “I'm Pete..... @LaunchChaser.” My eyes light up, “Oh! Yeah, I know you. I'm @Vsliker.” Nothing. No reaction. He doesn't know me. I cough, shift nervously and slowly turn around.

I check the Twitter stream and read that @Tinacan25 is asking “Where's cupcake lady @Vsliker?!” I perk up. I look around the room at a bunch of people hunched over their mobile devices, tweeting.  I wonder which one just asked about me?  Tongue on lip in concentration, I lean in close to my laptop and type, “@tinacan25, I'm down front, second row, green sweater. Where are you?” She quickly responds, “Red Boots.”  I spin around. Red boots.... red boots.... then I spot them. Standing in a crowd!  I nervously approach and timidly ask, “Are you Tina?” “Yes! Vsliker?” “Yes!!” We hug. Now what?

I notice the guy next to her, recognition spreads a smile on his face. “Are you @ClassTax??!” He nods excitedly. I scream in an Elaine Benes “Get Out!!” fashion. We have our own mini-TweetUp and promise to get together after the event and I think maybe we promised a lot of other things, too, in our new-friend frenzy.

As the TweetUp began, Doug was up there talking while we all bent over our mobile devices tweeting and retweeting everything he said and tweeting goofy comments to each other. When it was Q&A time, the girl behind me introduced herself prior to her question, “I'm @SpaceKate,” she pronounced. My head spun around, get out!  Right behind me?!  I'd been trying to find her all day.  While she continued her question, I bent over my keyboard and typed “@spacekate, Girl! You're right behind me!” As soon as the Q&A ended, SpaceKate and I had formal introductions and discussed some things we'd tweeted about.

It's a strange thing to take people from all walks of life, all ages, all levels of education, all regions of the nation – or world even – and throw us together on one platform – Twitter –and watch us evolve into special interest groups, toss around ideas and dreams, pose questions and provide answers. Then to put us together physically at one location. Some relationships fizzle and hit the dead-end in person while others spark and come alive. @SpaceKate and I kind of said “meh” and went our separate ways, no spark there. While @tinacan25 and @ClassTax and I continued the relationship like putting on an old shoe. ClassTax helped her get back to the airport and later joined me and my group to visit DC Cupcakes and perform a taste test for my blog, sharing cupcakes and snapping photos like we've known each other forever.

The goodbye is kind of awkward. “Umm, maybe we'll meet at another TweetUp? “ Or “hey, if you're ever in Chicago, tweet me.” Yeah, if you're in SC, tweet me. OK then, bye. 1 mile and minutes later, hunched over mobile devices, “gah, that pb swirl cupcake sucked, didn't it, @ClassTax?” or “You should have seen @Vsliker snarf down 4 cupcakes! LOL” And later “7 hours of driving, ugh. Looking for a Starbucks. How's your drive @ClassTax?” Back to normalcy in Twitter World. Until the next TweetUp, right @PensieveRobin? (She was the first Twitter friend I ever met in real life).


Kay said...

Real life friends who turn out to be "Poof" have their own marvelous nuances.

Poof said...

Awwwww, thanks Kay!

Steve Vader said...

So, I'm going back through some old tweets as I prepare a foursquare project, looking for some info, links, and names, and I come across this tweet & link from you again. I know I read this when you posted it, but with time and a bit more social network experience and maturity, coupled with my latest new smart-device and a little time with my morning coffee, I think now is a good chance to leave a comment finally! ;)
Your writing here is impeccable, and your ability to share the experience we had in our minds there is priceless - thank you! You took the words right out of my mouth; none of us could have said it better. That was a pretty neat experience...
I have hosted, favored, participated in, organized, and stumbled into many meet-ups from the social networking world over the years, from Twitter to Plurk to Second Life to Foursquare to Facebook in recent years, and even as far back as 1987 when my dad & brother operated a BBS in our hometown. I've seen that initial experience of awkwardness so many times, but I also know it's followed by joy later as you make new friends, so I'm always excited to push the envelope and encourage new people to get out.
I plan my trips, work, and vacations around social media meet-ups, and I'm looking forward to being in your neighborhood again someday. My coffee right now doesn't taste the same without a Georgetown Cupcake ;)
Take care,