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Getting to know unknowns

28/02/2010

The major social media platforms help you keep up with people you already know. But Twitter is particularly effective at helping you come across people you wouldn’t normally have encountered.

It also makes it easy to get to know them without undergoing any friendship rituals. I have been astonished at how well following Twitter exchanges allows you to discover the personalities behind the avatars and handles. This allows for a fuller appreciation of individuals and their attitudes than is generally afforded by the comment streams on blogs where polarised mindsets can dominate.

People are multi-facetted and as you peruse the progress reports from their lives both on- and off-line, another facet often comes into focus, rounding out your perception of the person and adding to the value of their observations. I have seen real friendships flourish on Twitter and be replicated offline. This can occur in more formal online fora, but it seems less predictable and therefore more exciting on Twitter.

Every Twitter consultation is rewarded with precious pointers to sources of enlightenment or laughter, but you could get that on other platforms if you’re lucky to have interesting enough contacts. However, though issues can be intelligently debated in ad-hoc online gatherings on other platforms, only on Twitter can otherwise unconnected people come together to discuss a topic with no greater formality needed than a #tag.

This has got to be good for individuals and society. I hope a significant a proportion of those 600 tweets per second are leveraging Twitter’s capacity to help people in getting to know unknowns.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 02/03/2010 13:21

    Twitter is often talked about as if it was a mini-broadcaster. But I’ve found it excellent as a way of establishing dialogues, although this does require a bit work (notably: actually listening to people!).

    • hughbs permalink*
      02/03/2010 18:18

      Indeed Michael. Social media is fun, but takes time and effort. No free lunch as always, though Phil’s generosity with the drinks at yesterday’s Open Beer created a good illusion of one!

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