The social in social media

Cast your mind back to when you first began hearing of
people meeting with complete strangers they had met online. The chances are you’ll
be thinking of naive young girls meeting people they had been tricked into
thinking were other people their own age, with the reality of a middle-aged,
bearded man turning up to take them by surprise, amongst other things, or of
single people who had met someone they were desperately hoping would be their
ideal partner, when in fact their online photo was taken ten years previously and
now resembled someone that hadn’t done much besides eat takeaways and drink
beer in that time.

The photos of ourselves online still may have the ability to
misguide people, but the intension to do so has changed, as has the reason to
meet people from the Internet.

Unfortunately the above scenarios still happen regularly,
but meeting strangers in public needn’t be scary or unsafe – as my own
experiences have taught me, and I hope will continue to do so.

Last year, members of the Hull group of Couch Surfers (www.couchsurfing.org, a website for
travellers) met in a local Weatherspoons bar to share travelling stories, have
some drinks together and make new friends. I’m still good friends with several
of these people and we meet in large groups regularly.

But Couch Surfing is about meeting people in real life
anyway, what about a website that doesn’t have this as its intention? When the
Internet first became widely used, chat rooms were the norm, now it’s social
media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Most of us know our Facebook friends,
but not Twitter followers. We get on with them, make conversation (if, very
short conversation), share links and photos and generally let others know what
is on our mind. So why not meet them?

Today I asked my followers if any of them had met other
Twitterers in their area, with successful reports of groups of 80+ people
meeting in other parts of the country, so I put the idea out there: ‘Hull and local area
Twitter meet-up! Please RT and reply if interested!’

People did reply and retweet, in larger numbers than I was
expecting. People seem really keen on the idea, and quite honestly I can’t
believe I’m the first to suggest it in this area.

The meet-up is set for Saturday 22nd May. I’m not
entirely sure what will happen at it yet; I’m hoping for lots of socialising,
friend and follower building and some discussions on Twitter and social media
while we’re at it too, that is why we’ll be there after all.

So if you’re interested in being part of Internet meet-ups
evolution, make yourself known on Twitter, tweet the hashtag #hullmeetup and
come and see if you recognise anyone (and then decide if it’s from their
profile picture or because you go to Tesco on the same night as each other
every week).

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