I remember when…

I remember when real-word meetings of online communities were fun. When groups of users from a particular website would get together at someone’s house, a coffee shop or in a pub and discuss the things they are passionate about. The things that brought them together.

About 6 years ago I met up with a group of lovely people I’d been chatting to via a website called The Lipstick Girls. We went to a little house in York and partied all night. That summer we all met up at a larger house in Derbyshire and partied all weekend. The people were fun, the discussions lively, and the people who couldn’t be there in person were entertained by various party attendees popping in and out of the online chatroom all night. Our party music was streamed live to those transatlantic chums too thanks to our own internet ‘radio station’, Lipstick FM.

In the years that followed, I attended a great many blogmeets and lomomeets which, although they were much smaller than the LSG houseparties, were all very good fun. They were extremely friendly and welcoming, the discussions were lively and there’d always be a few people whose blog or lomohome you didn’t already know, so you’d get to make some new friends too. Next came Facebook drinks which were bigger events and mostly full of people I’d never met before. I had fun there too, but not as much fun, perhaps due the the lack of online chatter with people before I’d met them in person. Although I met a few lovely people who I have remained friends with, it just wans’t the same. Then I found Twitter…

I was extremely keen to get a ticket for Twestival as I’d perhaps get a chance to meet some of the interesting people I’ve been following on Twitter, plus I’d be donating to charity too. Unfortunately, instead of a friendly party atmosphere, what I experienced was akin to ‘networking’ at a work conference (which, incidentally, I hate). There was some fun to be had, from sewing a Twitter-style birdy brooch with The Make Lounge to great performances from Newton Faulkner and The Hours, but I think the one thing that really ruined it for me was the free bar. Not that no queues and realising that 15 is all you’ll be paying for the evening wasn’t great, because it was. No, it was having to share the event with the sort of people who just can’t stop drinking when the supply is bottomless. There were so many drunken antics by the end of the evening, so many shoeless wenches, that I was sure I’d accidentally walked into a sixth-form disco. Why are people so damn dependent on the stuff these days? Why do they drink anything with alcohol content rather than sticking with the cola because there was nothing tastier on offer? As Frank Skinner said in today’s Times, “anyone who is reluctant to face social gatherings without the aid of alcohol should be asking themselves why”.

Then it dawned on me. It’s not just the oceans of booze, messy though that was, it was the size of the event and who was ‘invited’. “Twitter isn’t just for nerds anymore, it is becoming mainstream.” Bring back the nerds! I have far more in common with them.

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  1. Sounds like the last Twestival I attended – full of “social networking experts” keen to promote themselves as such, while necking all the alcohol as if the Web 1.0 boom era had never died.

    Which is fine for what you want, but I preferred the smaller-scale, more intimate blogmeets based around a particular shared interest.

    Twitter is not a particular shared interest. It's a medium for a vehicle. It'd be like trying to organise a festival for people interested in television, radio or WordPress. Too many disparate interests.

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