A group of us lost a Twitter friend recently.
We’re perplexed about what has happened and we’re afraid to move toward mourning because of what that implies.
All of us in the twittersphere adore Twitter (when it’s working).
Regularly I read tweets about how surprised we all are at the relationships that develop on Twitter. We meet people who share common interests and experiences. Before we know it, we’re confiding our joys and our sorrows to these new friends whose full names we may not even know.
We can go onto Twitter at almost anytime day or night and find a friend with whom we can joke, discuss issues, pour out frustrations, enthuse about a book we’re reading or concert we’ve just come from, flirt, cry, find support, kibitz, or just chatter.
I find it difficult to understand the nature of the intimacy that develops so quickly among us. Part of it may be the semi-anonymous nature of the relationships. Sure, once we put something on Twitter it’s there for the world to see. Yet we don’t seem cognizant of that when we tweet. Primarily what we seem to be experiencing is a conversation with good friends. But because it is semi-anonymous and we really don’t know each other as we do the family and friends that we have on Facebook, we’re prepared to lower our inhibitions.
As I make reference to lowered inhibitions, your mind is probably racing to the sexually-explicit examples that appear from time to time in the press. But, I believe, of much more frequent and profound significance are the lowered inhibitions that allow us to pour out our grief at a personal loss, or our anger at a betrayal by a loved one, or the loneliness of having lost our partners. Many of us may feel reluctant about excessively burdening our family and close friends with these problems. Now, we have Twitter where we can go and at anytime find support. Having recently joined the ranks of the widowed, I’ve been amazed at how supportive other widows and widowers on Twitter are to me and to each other.
So, we’re developing these intimate Twitter relationships that are becoming quite important in our lives.
But what we haven’t yet experienced much and hence haven’t yet reflected on is what happens when we lose one of those Twitter friends.
That’s what has happened to a group of us recently. Our Twitter friend used to be a regular part of our conversations. Then, he wasn’t. We all started noticing his absence. One day, when we clicked on his Twitter name, the riveting response came “This user does not exist.” OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We know his Twitter account and his first name but that is about it. There is no way for us to contact him, to find out if he is okay, to see if something serious has happened. The fact that he is elderly has heightened our anxiety.
We’re not ready to conclude the worst. We have no way to ascertain whether it is the worst. And so we’re left in this ambiguous place.
Twitter has opened up wonderful new intimate and meaningful relationships for us.
Twitter love we have.
Dealing with Twitter loss is a whole other thing.
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Information about my memoir August Farewell and my novel Searching for Gilead is available on my website at http://DavidGHallman.com