The thing about Twitter is…

You don’t know the people on it.

Twitter has taken social networking to a new level. Wheras on Facebook, Google+ and similar, you add the people you know, on Twitter, you actively search for people you don’t know.

On Facebook, you know your boundaries. Theyre the same as in real life. Easy to work out and adhere to, because you know the people in real life. Would you reply sarcastically to them in a group? Great, then it’s okay to do the same on their wall. Would you wish them happy birthday? Go ahead then. The advent of the ‘like’ on Facebook means that we can do the equivalent of smiling at something someone said, which means we interact more with acquaintances who we wouldnt normally ‘talk’ to, either online or in real.

But on Twitter, we have no social guidelines to stick to. People can talk to us, and we need not reply. People share what we say without our permission, we are suddenly allowed to pester celebrities with our every unhilarious thought, and worse than celebrities, real people. It’s kind of like entering a party in the middle, where you don’t know anyone at all. But you have to speak to people, or why are you there?

It is so easy to overstep the mark when you dont know someone and they dont know you. Recently, I made a flippant comment to a new follower, which evidently not only upset but also offended. I apologized, and was forgiven, but was then basically made fun of by them and a friend of theirs for about 2 hours. 2 hours on Twitter, unlike in life, is like 2 hours at a party. I tried to ignore, but when a conversation is sent directly to your Activity tab, it is much like two bullies following you round the party throwing mini sausage rolls at your head. It was horrible. Now I don’t think they meant much harm, and to be honest I started the problem myself, and I’ve seen at least one of them to be lovely, (in the Twitterverse at least) but I was thrown back to the geekiest version of myself. Nervous that everyone was watching and laughing, in the equivalent of a room full of strangers.

Up until now, I’ve only seen the benefits of using Twitter. For my business, it drives traffic to my website, tells people succinctly what I do, and helps me find potential authors and businesses to work with. Personally, it’s a fun way to network with new people, be introduced to great books and blogs, and as all internet resources, an invaluable procrastination tool.

But beware. When people dont know you, they can’t hear your voice when reading your comments. They don’t see your facial expressions, and someone seriously needs to invent a sarcasm font. Twitter forces you to be fun, flippant and quick, as you only have those all important 140c. But at the end of the day, you’re talking to strangers, and I don’t know about you, but introducing myself generally needs more than that.

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