“Welcome to the annual meeting of the people who annually meet”
A favourite comfort film of mine is the 2005 comedy, Elizabethtown. Starring Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst, it’s an awful, cheesy comedy with an unfathomable storyline and therefore well deserving of its place amongst my shelf of ‘guilty secret’ chick flick DVDs. However, the above quote is a line from the film which sprang to mind the very first time I attended a meeting of #themeet140.
#themeet140 was an idea crafted in early 2010 by two social media moguls, @markofrespect and @Chris_Hall1 who wanted to take the social side of Twitter out of the internet and into real life. Twitter, a platform which links humans and enables them to interact swiftly and easily, quickly becomes a little redundant if we don’t take these interactions away from the computer make something positive of them; be it for business gain, professional networking or just plain meeting some new friends to drink beer with. And so #themeet140 was born…
There have been #meet140 ‘tweetups’ in London, Cheltenham and Glasgow, but it wasn’t until July 2010 that #themeet140 landed in Aberdeen. Since then there have been five hugely successful meets all held at Musa, a boutique restaurant/art gallery/music venue and purveyor of a fine locally sourced menu paired with Brewdog Ales.
So what kind of people go to #themeet140? Who are these people behind the tiny avatars that you see every day putting their name to tiny snippets of information of 140 characters in length? I remember trying to explain it to my Mother, who, although not entirely tech-phobic, comes from a generation of people whose lives have not been touched by the social medium of the internet and still maintain a certain level of distrust of the notion that people ‘from the internet’ are totally normal and perhaps worth meeting.
Standing upstairs in Musa on Thursday night, I surveyed the roomful of people who 5 months ago I wouldn’t have known from Adam. Not only that, but because we’re such an incredible cross-section of the population, our paths would have probably never crossed down the line either. IT consultants, teachers, sound engineers, cyclists, secretaries, web designers, game developers, students, shop workers, artists, accountants, photographers. Teenagers, 20somethings, 30somethings, 40somethings and then some. All people whose lives had not yet brought them together until they entered the room, attached a badge with their twitter username on their jumpers and started talking to one another.
At the start of this year I made a New Years’ Resolution that I was determined to keep – I wanted to meet some new people and make some new friends. I’ve been back in Aberdeen for three years now and from starting right from scratch I’ve made many dear friends who mean the world to me, but this year I had an urge to get a bit more out of my city and expand my horizons a little. Since then I’ve made a bit more of an effort to connect with some people my age at work, I met a friend from Livejournal for the first time in real life – through her I have met a whole swathe of fabulous ladies, and of course – I started going to #themeet140.
When I think about it, there’s not really anything that links us all together – a shared interest as it were. We just all seem to like meeting people for the sake of it – we truly are the monthly meeting of people who meet! Perhaps as tweeters who talk about our lives in an open forum, assuming that someone somewhere is listening, we all have a little something in common in that regard. But without exception I have found the crowd who frequent ‘the meet’ (as it’s now called in our household) are a colourful rainbow of outgoing, creative, welcoming and ambitious people who I count myself lucky to know.
Our theme this month, was Christmas Jumpers! I think mine fell a little on the side of Scrooge what with the skulls and all but it was good for a last minute purchase from Tesco.
For the first time I think I can place a green tick against this year’s New Years’ Resolution! In the year to come I look forward to getting to know my new friends a little better and continue to meet some more. I always leave the evening with a sense of warmth and my faith in humanity restored – in a world where social interaction can seem at times increasingly more stunted and awkward it’s a real pleasure to remember that sometimes the easiest way to move forward is just to go back to the beginning and start talking.