Years ago when the internet first began in a big way (I’m talking around 1990-ish) and we all had bing bongy dial up connections, meeting people online became a “thing” And it became a weird thing … people who met online, and by met I don’t just mean romantically but I also include friendships, were a rarity and it all just seemed like an odd way to interact and connect with other human beings. In my early days of tweeting I was fortunate to have met a few people “off the internet” and my “real life” friends thought I was a bit strange but boy am I glad I did because I have met so many people who have become wonderful friends, who I have spent time plotting and planning and changing the world together with.
The first person I ever met from Twitter was someone who I had been chatting to for a while land we met outside of Marks & Spencer in Exeter! When I arrived I immediately spotted her as she was chatting to a dog (and his owner!) and we hit it off straight away. We spent a lovely afternoon in a coffee shop and both admitted that we were more than a little nervous that the other person would turn out to be an axe murderer ! I was amazed at how a connection online could lead to a real friendship … and to this day we are still friends.
A few years later and many internet meetings – or tweet meets as the came to be known as – later I met one of my most precious friends in the whole world. I happened to mention that I was working at the NEC and a nurse on Twitter piped up that she lived close by and would I like to meet up for a coffee on the way home. We met at a service station and stayed there for almost 3 hours drinking huge great big cups of coffee. Later than night I sent her a tweet to say that I couldn’t sleep due to the large amounts of caffeine we had both consumed – almost immediately she tweeted back that she was also awake ….. I’m pretty sure that neither of us slept for days because of all that coffee ! I am so pleased that she reached out and asked me to meet her – over the years she has become the most valuable friend who I have laughed, and at times cried with.
I have also met some of the most wonderful people through the work I have done in getting nurses using social media. I remember a few years back delivering a workshop to a small group of nurses in Manchester and about 30 mins into the session a nurse arrived late and breezed into the room wearing a rather amazing medal and a huge smile! It turns out that she had been at a celebration assembly with her son and he had made this beautiful medal for her … I thought it was such a wonderful way to be late to a meeting and even now when I think of the first time I met this fabulous friend I have to smile.
Over the years I have had purposeful meetings with people from Twitter and I have had accidental meetings too – those times when I have been at a conference and people have stopped me to say “are you @AgencyNurse?” And then introduced themselves …. of course it’s often been the case that I look totally confused until they tell me their Twitter name ! Meeting people off of Twitter has involved lots of coffee over the years, lots of cake, lots of laughter, lots of hugs and most importantly lots of long lasting friendships.
Then covid hit … And I have never been more thankful for the fabulous, kind, thoughtful, inspiring and amazing friends I have met … the wonderful thing is that many of my friends are super communicators as I met them online ! But I miss them hugely, I miss meeting up, I miss laughing, I miss hugging and I even miss sleepless nights after large amounts of coffee…. all the plotting and planning and changing the world together through coffee and cake fuelled discussion is on hold.
Now don’t get me wrong this isn’t a “poor old me” blog … this is a blog to celebrate those people we connect with online and then come to be some of the most wonderful people in our lives. Yes covid has stopped us in our tracks but I am grateful to have met every single friend I have from Twitter … so this blog is dedicated to my amazing online friends who have become offline friends … I’m so glad that meeting online people in real life became a thing, my life is much richer for knowing you…. coffee soon ?