One thing I love about Twitter is its ability to connect fans across cities, states, and fandoms. Watching Giants games on my computer wouldn’t be the same without hundreds of Giants fans blowing up my timeline, commenting on everything from Brandon Belt (#babygiraffe) to the stress of one-run games (#torture).
However, there’s one bone I have to pick with Twitter, and it’s this: there is no way for me to transition smoothly from cyber friendships to real friendships.
Now, I’m not talking about scary Internet strangers or looking to bring up safety issues. It’s not as if I have a goal of meeting every one of my 300-something followers—at least a third of whom seem to be weird spambots. I’m just talking about the average baseball fan you might meet at Safeco Field or AT&T Park or your mother’s basement (no offense).
Here’s an example. Last month, I attended the Mariners’ annual FanFest at Safeco. Unable to coerce any of my friends or family into joining me, I went alone, fully intending to indulge in six hours of baseball interviews, discussions, and autographs. While standing in line with 499 other fans to get Jesus Montero’s autograph, I started chatting with some friends on Twitter, and decided it might be fun to meet up with some of them after the main events of the day.
Off I went to Dugout Dialogue, where 70 fans or so were crowded around the third base line to hear players chat about the upcoming season. As I waited for the interviews to conclude, I spotted several Mariners fans I follow on Twitter. The more I looked around, the more tweeters I found. This is great! I thought. Look at all these people I’ve chatted with on Twitter. I should say hi!
Before I could jump out of my seat to say hello, I realized I had no idea how to introduce myself. Sure, I could just walk up and say hi, or make some witty and tweet-worthy comment about the latest round of player interviews, but I felt self-conscious about walking over several rows of people just to make these “offhand” comments. Then, it occurred to me that some of them didn’t even follow me back on Twitter. They would probably (and rightly) assume that it was creepy I should recognize them from Twitter, especially if they didn’t recognize me. I couldn’t very well go up and say, “Hi, I’m Ashley. I follow you on Twitter. You may or may not know me as @wcoastfangirl.” I promise I’m not a stalker in real life, but Twitter does not help with this at all.
In the end, I decided to stay put. Three people I talked to on Twitter—let me clarify, these were people I had already arranged to meet up with—somehow found me, and without much awkwardness, we enjoyed a great conversation while the park slowly emptied.
So, Twitter friends, if we ever happen to be in the same ballpark and you’d like to meet up, feel free to come up to me and say, “Hey, I know you from Twitter.” Sadly, I just can’t bring myself to do the same.