‘So, um, I’m going out for dinner with people I met on Twitter’. I first said those words a few years ago when I was in New York. It was a freezing cold night and I jumped on the subway to meet three women who, until that very night, I’d only ever conversed with using 140 characters or fewer. They seemed okay – their tweets were amusing – and they knew the same people I knew. On Twitter.
I remember speaking to my mum who was back home in Australia and telling her I was heading out – in the dark, to an area I’d never been, without my husband or daughter – to meet these strangers. ‘So this may be the last time I speak with you’, she said to me.
Fast forward a couple of years, and I’ve been to countless dinners, coffees, catch ups and events that have been organised with people I’ve met on social media. Now, I don’t even think about it twice. It’s how it happens! Admittedly, these ‘strangers’ are part of the same community and we usually know a lot of people in common.
Many of the people I now call friends I’ve met thanks to social media. It could have started with a retweet, a ‘like’ on Facebook or comment on a blog. But from there, my online community – other people around the globe living with diabetes has grown and grown. And my offline community has too, as online friends become IRL friends.
Today, it’s Mashable’s fifth annual Social Media Day.
For me, I’ll just be quietly thinking about how much smaller and less diverse my world was before I took those first tentative steps and entered the online world. I’m a more connected, better informed person thanks to the social media revolution.