A couple of years ago, I met an awfully nice chap. We were introduced. He mistook me for my husband in a quick-witted, humorous way that made all three of us laugh. We had a conversation, and were in the same room, in the same company for three or four hours. I had a nice time.
Not very long afterwards, the husband and I joined Twitter and I looked for various people to follow. Because he was amusing and clever, and made a nice impression, I looked up this chap, and, lo and behold, there he was. He also followed us back. So that was nice. When I got my own Twitter account, he followed that, too.
That was two years ago, and I feel as if he and I have developed a little relationship. He makes me laugh with his little jokes and puns. I read his blog and occasionally comment, not always to agree, and sometimes to commiserate, and, once in a while, we have a little back and forth.
I am rather charmed by the internet. I like that it means I get to interact with people. A writer’s life can be a solitary one, and it’s nice to dip into the world without leaving my desk. I like that I can say something to Sue Perkins or Susan Hill on Twitter and they might answer me. I like that a complete stranger or a fan has the chance to say something to the husband that might just get him thinking. It always happened via conventions or the website, or even via the PO Box with fan mail and whatnot, but Twitter is quicker and more immediate. I like that other professionals talk so freely one to another on the internet when once they might only have spoken two or three times a year in the bars at various convention hotels or at signings.
We are still strangers, though, aren’t we? I am perfectly friendly with lots of people that I have never met. I have even been known to flirt with one or two of them. I still believe that I behave differently with people I have met, though. I still believe that there is a type of connection that can only be made once flesh has been pressed, with the possible exception of Sarah Pinborough, but then isn’t La Pinborough the possible exception to all good rules?
Perhaps I am wrong (but not about Pinborough, obviously).
In one of our little conversations on Twitter, the lovely chap and I talked beauty, and he refuted his dashing looks, saying that if we ever met in the flesh...
I do not blame him for not remembering me. He was working the evening we met. He was ‘on’, as was the husband, and I understand the pressures of those events. There is an awful lot of glad-handing and an awful lot of name and face memorising, and I am not someone whose name or face is ever going to figure in the advancement of anyone’s career or social standing. I am only the wife of another writer. The lovely chap had more pressing things to worry about, and more important people too.
However, and this is interesting to me... However, this lovely chap has been very easygoing with me about responding to my overtures for a reasonably intimate internet friendship, which I had based on a very pleasant first meeting.
I’m charmed by his tolerance of someone who clearly must have come on a little strong, but more than anything, I wonder what he was basing the extent of our communications on, and I wonder how usual it is for people, by which I mean Twitter account holders, to strike up these sorts of correspondences.
On the other hand, perhaps I’m terribly stuffy and formal, and perhaps everyone else simply is more easygoing than I am. Maybe they are all chatting merrily away while I await the handshake and the written invitation.
Perhaps... Just perhaps, I still have a very great deal to learn about the internet... I shouldn’t be at all surprised.