Look at all these beautiful faces. Another 15 down. Feels like a ‘thing’ now.
So in the last instalment I was talking about how much I hoped I’d meet a psycho, or at least a bad person. Any kind of dickhead would do. Well this month I got lucky. If you’re among the gallery of stars above don’t worry. This isn’t about you. The dickhead, dear reader, was me.
Check out the centre photo above. It's a good photo, we both look happy! This is PJ. He is an excellent guy. What has this got to do with me being a dickhead? Listen: I've only updated the blog once every fifteen meets so far but I take detailed notes of every meeting I have with people. I make a note of how we came to know each other, the things we talked about, anything interesting about the day or the meet itself. We're not talking essays here, I just like to have a good record of everyone. Here's the note I made the following morning after meeting with PJ:
Pj - We got covered in beer? Shameful snippets of conversation. Council estate? Making films/being a director? Is that a thing? Did I totally mistake him for someone else? Oh god.
That's it. That's my detailed notes. What a dickhead.
There are reasons. For starters, I had no intention of meeting up with PJ because at the start of the night he wasn't following me on twitter. I had headed out to meet a different follower, friends of some previous #meetandtweet pals. Upon arriving I quickly realised that the night out itself was a shining example of 21st century socialising. PJ is part of a loosely formed group of pals that have emerged from twitter.
Now I’m no stranger to meeting people from the internet, but in the past it’s always been people from forums. With a forum, you have a collective hub. A wall around you. You can see when people join or leave, you can trace friendships. Everything is public to everyone. Also there’s a baseline for interest, a reason they're all there, be it gamers or bronies or bears (Oh my goodnees I’m not a hack.)
Anyway, you know what you’re getting into, at least a little. With groups formed from twitter, particularly coalesced from a particular area, there is no obvious baseline. Depending on who you follow, only certain conversations may be visible to you. It’s a fragmented mesh of interests and styles and any kind of common theme can be a loose as ‘creative’ or ‘religious’ or ‘political.’ This is a long winded way of saying I met up with a bunch of people who met up through twitter, and it was weird.
Not weird like eww, just odd. A brand new social experience. Because of the nebulous way people have grown towards each other, it's impossible to know how close certain people are. Maybe some of them were pals for years? Maybe they only met tonight and they're just really friendly? Maybe it's nothing to do with twitter and they're just a nice guy in a bar? It's a minefield.
I already knew a few people from the group, indeed I'd already met them in previous months and as my previous blogs will tell you, they are all good people. A few of them were complete strangers, PJ included, but by the end we got on well (I think.) But then there were the other ones. The strange ones. The people that I follow on twitter who don't follow me back.
Now don't get me wrong, this isn't a bitterness thing. I have no problem if people don't follow back. The problem is when the asynchronous relationship is revealed in the cold light of day. This is, to me, one of the most socially awkward things that twitter creates.
I mean think about it. By following someone you're getting a glimpse into their life, or at least their narrative of it. You know where they've been, what they do. If they're a sharer you get their worries, their drunken rants and their relationship problems. All of this seems OK until you meet them in real life, then it becomes impossible not to sound like a creep.
THEM: So are you going anywhere on holiday?
YOU: I'm thinking I might go to Japan in the New Year.
THEM: Oh cool! I was actually there last year.
YOU: Oh yeah, yeah, I know. I saw.
THEM: You saw?
YOU: Yeah, I uh, I follow you.
THEM: Oh, right.
YOU: So how is that rash turning out?
Even the language of it is weird. I follow you. Gross.
Anyway. All of these things made me a little unnerved. Despite how lovely everyone was, it was impossible not to feel a bit weird, and there were amazing beers and I got drunk.
The person I had originally arranged to meet was grand, and we had a fine chat about movies & elitism and rapping that I have notes of. By the time I got to PJ and we were smiling outside and covered in beer, memory holes had begun to form. As a clear indicator of my narcissistic tendencies, I can remember 'most' of what I said, but almost nothing of the responses.
Such a dick head.
But this is the project, and we're all learning as we go.
So what's next? Well at 47 people I'm quickly running out of locals so on the 12th of June, I'm going to start travelling around the UK. We're going national. I'll be tweeting and blogging from the road so please do check back and feel free to tweet the links around.
As an addendum, I've been asked what happens if this becomes a thing and I suddenly get thousands of followers overnight. Would I still go and meet them all?
I mean, of course I'd like to, but for one I don't know if it's logistically possible and two, i feel like it would kind of dilute the original project, because people would be getting involved knowing what they're in for. My relative anonymity is what makes this possible (and thankfully impossble for Dave Gorman or Danny Wallace.)
Still, I don't want to put people off. So here's my proposal. 250 is the limit. (I currently have 252 followers, but at least 60 of those aren't human beings.) So I'll keep going until I've met everyone who follows me who's into it OR I hit 250 meetandtweets. That's the plan anyway. This was an idle thought on a Saturday afternoon that I thought would make a cool story, so who knows where it'll end.
Special thanks to:
@mark_boggis, @shoneski, @weeman83, @M_Franchetti, @SharonEThompson, @KittAlpha, @ReadyUpDan, @TheFatConsoler, @IDcanary, @tammclaughlin, @RoddyMcMagic, @DerekHamilton82, @miksforkicks, @1030, @sergiocasci