Do You Touch Your Tweeps?

What do you do, when you meet a ‘tweet’ pal for the first time In Real Life?

It’s a question that I wrestle with, because I regularly meet people face-to-face after first making a connection with them through Twitter. They’re not blind dates, but they’re pretty close in terms of how awkward you can feel.

In my experience, tweet-ups have been fantastic and I’ve not been disappointed with anyone yet (it’s true!) However I’ve come to recognise a few ‘dance steps’ and wonder if you have, too:

• Nervously wait at assigned meeting point
• Crane your neck, keep look-out for person who will resemble the thumbnail you’ve been communicating with for past weeks/months/years
• See someone vaguely resembling the thumbnail
• Wonder if it’s them
• Realise it IS them
• Wonder if it’s too late to pretend you’re not there
• Awkwardly start moving toward each other
• Think to yourself: do we shake hands? Hug? Cry and hold onto each other like reunited siblings?
• Go for an awkward hand shake
• Settle into warm and relaxed conversation

It’s the physical contact that I find most problematic. @Problogger recounted a story at the recent #cnow social media conference, about a follower who rushed toward him, embraced him fully, and cried onto his neck! She had been following him online for so long, she felt such a strong connection, that she was moved to make physical contact with someone who would ordinarily be a stranger.

I have been tweeting @Jadecraven for quite some time, she’s a fantastic Twitter pal. We met at #cnow for the first time and – knowing we live in separate cities and may not come face to face ever again – I rubbed her arm as we laughed and sighed with relief at finding each other. Later, we hugged goodbye, but when we first met IRL it still felt too forward to hug. (Though I reckon we should have, Jade!)

In many cases, your Twitter pals are your emotional crutches. They listen to you when you vent. They provide helpful information when you tweet a question. They LOL at your mishaps. They endorse your TGIFs. When other friends, or family, are absent or asleep or disinterested, there’s always a tweep available to fill the void.

So it makes sense that they’re pals IRL, right?

Or does it?

Photo by @idrewthis , with @markgamtcheff @missbiancab and @ashsimmonds at a #socadl tweetup.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Paul Millar says:

    I think there was a time when the answer was probably no…But I think people are changing as the web is becoming increasingly more mobile and social networks popup…And well now I'm of the opinion that its still a real person on the other end – it doesn't matter if its online or not… So yeah, Id defo agree that they're friends IRL…

  2. Hector says:

    I come from Mexico where social interaction is way more physical. Men-women and women-women ALWAYS kiss on the cheek (yes, even on business meetings) and guys ALWAYS shake hands. Close friends would even hug even if they just saw each other yesterday.I have to admit after 7 months in Oz I still struggle to find a pattern when to shake hands / kiss or just say "bye" and walk away (which for me feels extremely rude and cold, but I play along).So add that cultural baggage to the awkward-as-it-is first encounter during a Tweetup and it's a recipe to make me want to run for cover.:)

  3. Ash Simmonds says:

    Last night you were wondering if it was too soon for us to kiss – I think fistbump was the appropriate greeting.Of course you later said I smell like bong water, but you were the one with the munchies. We'll get there, we'll get there.

  4. Ric Hayman says:

    This is a good question, considering we are yet to meet in carbonspace … I'll shake hands – how's that? Culturally, I've been brought up with a fair bit of physical greeting, but people I'm meeting for the first time (male or female) I'll generally shake hands. I do agree, however, that "knowing" people on the web before IRL does remove/speed-up some of that initial awkwardness – you DO know something about each other.I see no reason why I wouldn't consider you a friend, just because we haven't met and "touched" …

  5. Prakky ... says:

    Thanks Paul, Hector, Ash, Ric …Hector, you make a very good point about the cultural baggage and different expectations. I think another part of the awkwardness may be the male/female greeting – there's a caution about whether to kiss, and still there's a lot of women who don't freely shake hands. So perhaps some males don't know what to do?Fistbumps – Ash we'll have to bring them into vogue. Maybe we can have a #socadl secret handshake.

  6. Haha, love that you brought this up, especially after last night!I'm a generally friendly/physical person, but am acutely conscious of the weird web/reality connection you make with tweeps…I guess from limited experience I shake hands at first and from conversation try and gauge the 'peck on the cheek' suitability…There is definitely a quirky kind of personal connection made through interaction on Twitter (or for me through blog reading) that is hard to translate IRL.Officially putting my hand up to generate Twitter handle labels for next #socadl drinks!

  7. adriankhall says:

    I shake hands with a resounding "mate" with males; but an occasional hug, depending on the length of time I have knew them. Are "manhugs" are OK?A kiss on the cheek (men-women) and a hug (bearhugs @charlierobinson) is OK and again depending on the relationship.

  8. I'm trying to remember my greetings on Friday night! An awkward wave to the first group, a kiss from @Prakky, an insult to @AshSimmonds ;), handshake with @jessiemorris …I think I was mostly hands-off. Not that I feel that was necessary, of course. The more I know you all the more hugs and kisses there will be (I know @Prakky the best, which correlates well with the kiss!). I think the formula is #personalinteractions x #timesmetinreallife + naturaluseoftouch = leveloftouchinesswhenmeeting.Look out everyone I've now met more than once. Gropes galore!!! 😉

  9. Ash Simmonds says:

    Hmm, seems a motif with me that I get the "Oh, so YOU'RE Ash Simmonds", then gaze averted to the nearest other person with an excuse to engage in conversation.I'm great at helping *other* people get together.

  10. Jade Craven says:

    🙂 I would have hugged you upon meeting if I wasn't so darn tired. It was weird. On the second day, I was sorta kinda high off the energy so was hugging everyone (and asking @garyvee to say Hi to Sam haha).I hugged random strangers but still only fistbump my best friend/business partner. I have decided not to question my love/hate relationship with hugging and just let it be at conferences :-)Was awesome meeting you.

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