I participate in Twitter. I am a Tweeter. (Not a twit. What is the language for this?!) Every so often I get an announcement via email that someone is following me on Twitter. I always go check to see who it is, see if I know them, and so forth. Usually when they have thousands of followers, I block them unless they seem really interesting. I just don’t want to get spam from someone’s business. If they seem like a regular person, I will often click to follow them as well, at least until I decide I’m not interested, or until I see them post twelve tweets in a row, hogging up the whole page. Repeated episodes of that will make me quit following them, as well.
Just before Christmas I got notice of a follower who was obviously a youngish mother and wife who lived in my town. I was puzzled by who she might be, and how she might have found me. (How do people find you anyway? I never seem to find anyone myself, I just follow people who follow me. I’m such a groupie.) Anyway, I clicked to follow her, thinking she must be someone I know and I’d figure it out eventually. Ever since, I’ve read her tweets and learned of her injured rib from coughing, her excitement at getting a new house to rent, her frequent updates on what she’d cleaned in the past hour or so and news about her children and husband (Dear Son – DS, Dear Daughter – DD and Dear Husband – DH).
Yesterday, I noticed a tweet that seemed to be about her spouse, so I clicked over to his site to see if it included any identifying features, thinking maybe I could figure out who they were or how I know them. Imagine my surprise when I found a conversation about my son. They were waiting for him to show up for something, and were being pretty disparaging about him. I was puzzled, and at first thought it must be a coincidence. Except he has a pretty uncommon name. So I called him and asked if he knew about whatever event they were discussing. He knew immediately who and what I was talking about.
He felt badly that they were feeling so negatively about him, and went to talk to the man, his friend. (My son is direct, if nothing else. In a good way.) Apparently they got things straightened out between them. I thought nothing more about it until this morning when I saw this tweet: “A MOM of one of DH’s aquaintances is spying on me on Twitter. How weird.”
So now. At first it made me mad. Like, what’s weird is you having a private conversation in a public forum and calling it spying when someone reads it. Hello, it’s Twitter! But now, I’ve cooled down (No, I didn’t post that thought! Although I was tempted.) and am thinking more about the whole phenomenon of Twitter. I mean, I comment to people specifically, and I post tweets, but often I just read what other people write. That is what Twitter is about, and I learn interesting things from people’s links, blog posts and just their updates. But upon further reflection, I think I have been remiss in not greeting people when they first begin to follow me. Does that mean I spy? In the case of this young woman, I guess I didn’t respond to any of her tweets because they do tend to be pretty personal, and I feel sort of like a voyeur, even though she chose to follow me, not the reverse.
I think I have to rethink this whole thing about having interactions/relationships/friendships in cyberspace. I regularly comment on people’s blogs and photos on Flick’r and ask people to be my friend on Facebook (that was a little hard!) and make @ responses to tweets on Twitter. Even though I know the people I meet there are real people, it is sometimes hard to ascribe to them the same level of realness that I would to someone I know in the physical face to face world. Sort of like a cyber-sitcom. This requires a shift of thinking. Maybe change the way I do things in Twitter. Like say hello to new followers. I’m pretty okay with the rest of the cyber stuff I do. I wonder if any of you readers have any ideas about this?