When Twitter gets real

I’ve noticed that something weird is happening recently. It’s the people in my phone. Turns out that I quite like some of them. And it turns out (MUPPET ALERT) that I don’t really like liking them.

I’ve always found a sort of freedom on Twitter, a confidence that I don’t have at the school gates or at social events. I’ve asked questions, engaged in debate, joined in with jokey chit chat about this and that. I don’t feel the pressure to be amusing that I feel when I’m feeling slightly out of my depth (as I feel slightly out of my depth about 99% of the time, and I am not remotely funny even when I try really REALLY hard, I suspect this is a trial for all around me). I’ve felt very free to come and go as I please with no strings attached – sometimes I drop in on Twitter for a chat a couple times a day, sometimes I don’t pick it up for a week or so – just depends how busy I am. But the great thing is when I do pick it up again, it’s all pretty much the same, and there’s no subtext or guilt for not having been around.

I’ve always regarded the people in my phone as being just that – people in my phone. People who I would never encounter in real life. And that makes them very easy to enjoy, because the whole anxiety thing about whether I’m funny enough, smart enough, a good enough parent, part of the gang or not – that whole ticker tape of stress that never, ever turns off in my day to day social interactions, is remarkable by its absence in my twitter life.

But over the last, I don’t know, the last few months, something has changed a bit. I have noticed now that if I don’t see someone in my feed for a while, especially if I know they are having a stressful time, I check in on their timeline to see if they’re around and ok. More often than not they are fine, and we’ve just been online at different times. But it’s nice to know that they’re ok. Sometimes they’re not – and in that case I’ll usually drop an @message or DM to let them know I am thinking of them. And to my utter amazement, this also happens the other way around too.

But that’s kind of nice, right? A bit of mutual looking out for each other is a GOOD THING, surely? Well, yes, of course it is…as long as it stops there. But it’s a slippery slope – one minute you’re checking on a twitter buddy and next thing you know they are becoming REAL PEOPLE with all the guff that entails…mostly, it must be said, my guff rather than theirs.

For example. Recently I read this post. It’s a very funny rant about shit writers (and there’s a lot more swearing where that came from, so Mother – don’t click that link. No really, DON’T). After I had spat my tea out laughing my way through it, I read it again, because it was funny, and true, and – then, a slowly rising tide of panic – OhmygodIknowshereadsmyblogwhatifsheisbloggingaboutMYSHITWRITING?  In the old days, I’d be all ‘oh well some random on Twitter thinks I’m a shit writer – meh’. Now, NOW, every time I sit down to write, the words SHIT WRITER flash up in front of my eyes like some sort of warning. Great.

Next thing,  a twitter buddy visited Cardiff with her kids for the day. She’s an anonymous blogger, so I don’t even know what she looks like, and I found myself thinking that we might have passed each other in the street and I’d never know. Then I found myself thinking oh god, what if we did, and she recognised me from my avi, and then I’d have had to be all funny and clever and stuff, or she’d have realised I’m an absolute bloody muppet. Or worse, what if we DID pass each other and she recognised me and RAN A MILE THE OTHER WAY so she didn’t have to meet me because she has already figured out the awful truth about my muppetry? Cue panic attack about someone who I have never met, and probably never will meet, who may or may not think I am a muppet.

See what happens when the people in my phone start being real? I start stressing about what they think. I start worrying that when they are talking about shit writers, they are talking about me. I start panicking that even though they are perfectly nice to me, they’re actually, inside, dying to get away. Clearly, as I said earlier, this is my guff rather than theirs. But still, I don’t need this! I LIKED it when the people in my phone were not real! I LIKED not being nervous and self conscious and having to pretend that my life is all under control and all that stuff that is so exhausting face to face. And now all that shit is coming to get me on twitter too…FFS. Is there NO escape?

Oops. I meant to write a funny post about twitter. It turns out I’ve written a horribly revealing post about social anxiety instead. And I STILL don’t know what to do about the people in my phone that I like that I don’t like liking. Except perhaps set up a new, amazingly funny and witty and totally non-anxious persona on twitter and find a whole load of new people to follow that I don’t like, yet.

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22 thoughts on “When Twitter gets real

  1. Maybe the people who follow you on Twitter follow you because you’re funny, smart and a good writer – ever think of that? 😉

    It’s incredibly easy to unfollow someone you don’t like (thank god), so I take comfort from the fact that if these people are still following me then they obviously think I’m worth it in the same way that I think that about them.

    Anxiety is a weird one, but try not to let the internet get to you too much – it’s just the internet. The only opinion that should matter to you is your own 🙂

    For what it’s worth tho, I think you’re nice and I like your writing and you never seem like a muppet when we meet in real life 😉
    Sarahmia recently posted…Friday ThanksMy Profile

  2. Not known you or your blog long but I do know a few things about you. Actually you are very funny, you’re writing is fantastic and I always look forward to your posts, and lastly, I too am pretty terrible at social situations but was really glad to meet you last week! xx

  3. I can only echo what Alice and Sarahmia have said above. I have enough ‘friends’ crammed into my phone via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blogging that I am constantly filtering out people I no longer consider relevant. So the fact that I’m still reading you both here and on Twitter means you still have a fan here who finds you interesting, funny and worth taking a few minutes out of my day every now and then for.

    Now I’M paranoid that no one loves me. See what you’ve done? 😉
    Tim recently posted…The best laid plansMy Profile

  4. I am always on twitter and see people slating eachother alot but its not about something serious its daft lil things that that start it , a point of view or an opinion, its ridiculous they even bring their kids into it everytime, competing against eachother and fightin at whos the best parent or know more than the other, its sad they think people actaully think these ramblings are actually anything but interesting , block but is the best button

  5. Hey, here’s a thought: when you meet ‘real’ people in those anxiety-provoking situations, how about imagining those people as Twitter avatars (bit like imagining your audience naked when you’re about to give a speech)? 🙂 This is a fantastic post. I love the Twitter ‘imagined’ communities – as you say, if you disappear for a while, it never seems to matter….
    Nell@PigeonPairandMe recently posted…A Summer of MoominsMy Profile

  6. I worry sometimes that people are writing about me when they say crap writers but then I remember that I write my blog for my kids to read back on when they’re older and they won’t care how well I write. They’ll just love seeing all the memories 🙂
    Shell Louise recently posted…Alphabet Project – B and CMy Profile

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