The Weekend I Met The Internet

There are certain people that sometimes have a troubling time digesting the nature of my lifestyle, or perhaps I should say our lifestyle, for I am speaking about something not unique to myself but characteristic of a great many people. Many great people, I should add.

Ten years ago—that it’s been so long never struck me until I wrote it down just now—I went on my first trip across the world for the purpose of meeting people I had never met before. This wasn’t a vacation for the vacation’s sake, it was a vacation to meet people from the Internet. Haha, how weird is that?!

Well, not very. This past weekend, well over a hundred people traveled from far and wide to San Francisco for the sole purpose of… meeting people from the Internet—myself included. We came from different countries and different continents, and from cities all over the U.S., and for two short but amazingly fun-filled days, we were alltogether in person.

Most people, when they go away on vacation or a long weekend, go somewhere where they’re not surrounded by the people they see and talk to every day. Those 140-odd of us in San Francisco, well, we don’t see each other in person every day, but we see one another online with Gratuitous Picture Of Yourself Wednesdays and miscellaneous other photo posts to Twitter and Tumblr. We talk to each other all day long in small chunks of 140 characters or up to sixty-second sound clips. We are one another’s friends and we share something every single day with each other—except real-life interaction.

The great thing about the Internet is also one of its most challenging flaws: it brings you “together” with people who can be—and are—anywhere else in the world. Sometimes even out of this world. You just aren’t in the same physical space, and that brings about some challenges, not in the least having to explain this new interaction and friendship paradigm to people that don’t quite get it.

But this is why we organize events like this San Francisco TweetUp; so that we may see each other in person every so often, and give each other real hugs and high-fives. We do this because these people are our friends—not on the Internet, but from the Internet. The friendships we build over bits and bytes, using words and pictures and sound clips and videos, are every bit as significant and meaningful as the friendships we built when we were young kids playing with other kids in the back yard.

It’s events like these that make me realize just how small the world really is, and how immensely filled with wonderful people.

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