This post was inspired by Ellie Di, who if you don’t know and worship already, you’re missing out on something fabulous.
At the end of February, I was feeling very discouraged about the internet. I had been reading too many of the comments, not having good human connections, and even my sacred internet safe space (y’all know who you are) had gotten more and more quiet and less fun to interact with.
My husband has a motto: “If you’re feeling unloved, it’s a sign that you need to be more demonstrative in your own affection.” So, after a month of hiding out, and after who-knows-how-long puttering around waiting for others to entertain me online, I decided to make a point of spending more time on twitter interacting, instead of just lurking or whining.
As luck would have it, that very same day Ellie Di tweeted, wanting to know if twitter was dead, and why was nobody commenting anymore. Various ideas were thrown out. A lot of them were about the proportion of promotional tweets. Some of it was backlash against too much branding, or feeling like the good community that used to exist on twitter had gotten buried in just too many voices talking at once.
I’ve been thinking about that conversation ever since. (I am excellent at stewing.) The conclusion I have come to, after many days of pondering, is that part of the problem is trying to find other people to talk to. Everyone follows the same few celebrities, and we tweet at them almost incessantly. Whole twitter accounts are formed just to shout at Lady Gaga, hoping that maybe one day you’ll catch her at the right moment for her to send you 140 characters in return.
Maybe you follow a couple of “minor celebrities” as well, people with only a couple of thousand followers, people who have time to interact with most people who message them. But they still don’t have time to follow-back, to do anything other than respond when they are tweeted to, or to start the conversation.
Which leaves a whole lot of people, like me, who can respond to anything, but can’t start a conversation themselves. People who I know are interesting. People who I would love to interact with. But how do you find them? We’ve gotten past the days when strangers made new life-long friends after a couple of “that lunch looks tasty” tweets. Now it’s a bit strange to get new followers out of the blue. The first question is “what are they selling? what are they trying to promote?” And that seems rather backwards.
So since I’ve been back, I’ve been searching for new faces. Looking at the other people who respond to Ellie Di, and following them. Following people who tweet at Chuck Wendig or Olga Nunes. Paying careful attention to the people with a mere hundred or two followers. Trying to make friends. Trying to reach out.
If we wait for the celebrities to support us, we will wait forever for our turn in line. If we can find each other, and say hello, we will all stand that much stronger. We’re only as lonely as we make ourselves out to be.