Early in the morning of December 13th, Steven Smith died in an unfortunate car accident driving home. This piece isn’t about him directly; rather it is about how my brief time on Twitter has really changed my life. If you want to read an absolutely beautiful piece on Steven, read @rebeccapbp’s because she writes so wonderfully, much better than I can.
I am home from school and it is freezing outside, so I spent the day on my computer, with Twitter open almost the whole time. It was remarkable to see the initial reaction to the news, as well as the outpouring of love, wishes and support from people who had never seen or talked to Steven in ‘real life.’ My feed seemed to alternate between Yankees news and RIPs for Steven. I tweeted at the time that it felt wrong, that news of a young man’s death could be so casually interspersed with trivial sports information and opinions.
It made me think about my time on Twitter and, somewhat morbidly, what my feed would look like if I died. This led me to think on how Twitter has affected me.
I initially joined Twitter because it seemed like the newest thing. At first, I only followed the 15-odd people I knew in real life that were on Twitter already. Then, because of the River Ave Blues Yankees blog, I started tweeting in order to stay up to the date on the latest Yankees news. This spread to the Jets, Arsenal Football Club in the UK, and Syracuse sports.
When I try to explain what I do on Twitter to non-users, I get weird looks. ‘Wait, you talk with people you’ve never met?’ My conversations started with sports, but quickly bled in to personal lives. I’ve met so many wonderful people through this web site that I would never have met in real life, including Steven.
To say it bluntly: you all are amazing. I signed on one night, tired, at work, and down for a multitude of reasons. Within seconds of tweeting about my mood, I got so many replies giving me reasons to cheer up, ranging from cute pictures of cats to Yankees trivia to a simple ‘Because you’re awesome’ from many, including Steven. I love my inside jokes with all of you, from Jets and Colts love, to Harry Potter facts, to, again, cute pictures of cats. It’s strange but I sometimes feel comfortable sharing information on Twitter, a vastly public social media site, that I wouldn’t share in face to face conversation with people I know.
Too many times to count, I have been down, sad, upset or angry, and you all have relaxed me and cheered me up. When I’ve needed a friend, I’ve found one. When I’ve been lonely, my family on Twitter has kept me company, and some of you have even indulged in some playful flirting which is endlessly entertaining and as a single guy, fun. When I have needed ideas for school projects, a simple Tweet about it brings responses, both useful and not. It was actually a joy writing an article on Twitter this semester – I had to work not to make it too personal. It was about Twitter and sports, but I could have written 10,000 words on how much fun I have on Twitter.
So thank you. You, my friends (and ‘wives’… yes more than one) of Twitter, have helped me more than you all know. At my worst moments I have often turned to you and you haven’t failed to lift me up. While I haven’t met any of you in real life (what an odd phrase), indeed I haven’t even uploaded a picture yet, I feel so close to some of you it’s shocking.
I wasn’t that close to Steven. I wish I had more time to get to know him for he seemed like a wonderful guy. For those of you who knew him personally that are grieving for him, you have my thoughts and my shoulder to cry on if it is needed. I do know that if I found out that if one of my Twitter friends passed away like Steven did, I would grieve like they were a ‘real life’ friend. Because you guys are. Despite having no physical contact and only a few random webcam chats, you all are real life friends. I laugh with you, I cry with you (usually because the Jets disappoint me again) and we’ve shared some amazing times. That’s what a friend is, right?