Twitter Friends

Dunbar's number, somewhere between 100 and 230, is thrown around by many to talk about how many friends we 'should have.' When our societies were so much smaller, with villages of 100 people and those who came and went to trade, we knew only a handful over 150 people on average.  These days, we are considered to be hyperconnected.

I remember the days of Facebook friend count competitions - the kids who would come to school and proudly announce that they had 500 friends, to which another would pipe up that they had 737.  I often wondered if these kids actually knew all 500+ friends. Many a time, they did not. Friends of friends added each other solely to increase that count.

These days, many of my friends are moving away from that culture. Their Facebook profile is only for the closest of friends. Many keep their counts in the low hundreds, some in the double digits. They tailor their content to the audience. They don't want utter strangers knowing who they are.

And then there's Twitter. Where having a huge number of followers is desirable. Where you can form friendships with mentors, those in your field of interest or of completely different occupations. Twitter, where you find people who think like you in a sea of real-world relationships that just don't quite fit.

In the past year, since my avid Twitter-using housemates introduced me to the platform, I have met a number of people as a result of Twitter interactions, helped real-world friends become Twitter users and found a place to belong. Twitter brings me closer to the things that intellectually fuel me. It brings me closer to Medicine, to the future, to the environment, to action.

How is it that an Internet platform can make such a difference?

Simple.

It connects us.

Twitter gives us an opportunity to share ideas, knowledge and passion with people who want to listen. Instead of being shut down by your high school friends for having outlandish ideas, by your workplace mentors for being outside of typical efforts, you suddenly have a community that gets you.  Better yet, when you take the communal creations back to your postcode, you are forced to explain why they are worthwhile of funding or effort. You are constantly forced to use First Principles, fact and emotive language to prove your point.

And you're not alone.

This is a tribute to the many amazing friends I have met through Twitter.

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