People not on Twitter won’t get this.
Because Twitter is a real-time/near-real-time communications medium, it is remarkably easy to establish relationships with Twitter ‘friends’.
I have been on Twitter since 31st March 2008. Since then 345 people have found and followed me and, because it is a social network, I have (usually) followed them all back.
Social, it definitely is. A network it is too.
I have gone on to physically meet *counts quickly* 40-ish Twitter friends and, without exception, they have all been lovely people.
Yesterday evening I drove in to London, because one of my Twitter friends had been taken ill, whilst at work, and had been admitted to UCL Hospital for tests.
I pitched up outside UCL at 6.15pm and waited in my car, listening to music and, erm, Tweeting, Texting and receiving updates on his progress, as he moved through the medical system.
I’ve had enough hospital admissions to know that medical staff are reluctant to discharge someone from their care, and have that person set out on a significant public transport journey home.
I thought that if he was allowed home, he’d need a lift. It was that simple.
About 9.30pm he was moved to a hospital ward and I was invited up for a chat. I accepted and yes, we physically met for the first time and we chatted about many things.
And he is, indeed, a very nice guy.
As the clock ticked on, the nurses started saying things like ‘And in the morning we’ll do more tests’, so it became clear he wasn’t going to be allowed home.
But we chatted on.
At 11pm a real-life/Twitter friend of his (who was also an unmet Twitter friend of mine) pitched up with overnight supplies for him.
The three of us chatted some more, briefly, before being thrown out by the nursing staff.
I gave the (previously unmet) Twitter friend a lift back to her home in Fulham, then headed back to Witney, getting home about half-past midnight.
I hope he – the Twitter friend in hospital – is good this morning. I hope he’s fit and hope his prognosis is excellent.
But this activity? This is the kind of thing we do for our friends, isn’t it?
Whether they’re unmet Twitter friends or not.