Maybe we just follow people we want to be like on Twitter – and our parents on Facebook?

Earlier this week, I attended a function here in Melbourne where I got to meet a bunch of people I follow on Twitter; many of whom I’ve chatted with online, but also a number who I hadn’t but knew of them.

In the year now that I’ve been on Twitter, I’ve gone from following journos and some politicians (mainly Australian), along with some TV types (mainly Australian) – to journos (from Australia and overseas), more politicians (from Australia and overseas), and – yep – more TV types (from Australia and overseas). If you’re nice and don’t stuff your vowels in your spelling, @MrMikeMcRoberts will tweet you a hello during the ads on New Zealand’s TV3 News. Why he does this, I don’t know, but he does, and it’s witty, and so I follow, knowing that I will never meet Mike, but that he cares. Even if I can’t stand Auckland. Which I’ve never shared with him, and I suspect he wouldn’t care either way. It’s a Wellington thing. I think.

But I digress (surely not!). So. While I’ve not tracked my follow trends, my feeling is that I’ve broadened my interests across some areas (leadership and management, and social media leadership), but basically just deepened the numbers of people I follow in sport, politics, media, social media and um…..

Some time ago I read somewhere online that we follow people we want to be likeand that often people on Twitter follow the same kinds of people (professionally, interest-wise, say), rather than people who they might find challenging or new. No! Really. Well I never. But – it does bring up a good point – is Twitter just a metaphorical way for people online to hang with the cool kids at ‘school‘; you know the ones that somehow always got to the toastie maker in the Year 12 Common Room first (how??!!) [*], the ones who did drama, and sport, and debating – and were good at it all. And knew it. And worse, knew that the rest of the proletariat who really, couldn’t give a fig about the regional debating / volleyball / drama competition, prize, love in – really wanted to be them?

* You know who you were – and I’ve seriously got to get back on message.

An example (useful pre-school freak out para): The same kind of people I’ve either worked with, for or have worked in politics, are the ones we see tweeting on a Sunday morning or on #qanda (and hey, @wolfcat, I’d love one of those t-shirts any time!). Seriously, do we congregate on Twitter because we’re interested, or because in #qanda-land, for instance to use paraphrase a term from a similar paradigm, we define what is a community?

“I’ll take that as comment” defines the Tony Jones and the #qanda brand as well as anything – and it’s great.

In Melbourne, 3AW’s Derry Hinch IS his brand – he’s @HumanHeadline – while, very appropriately, Mark Scott is @MarkScottABC.

We are, after all, what we tweet.

I can tell you the training schedules of most of the Melbourne Football Club players on Twitter, for example – because the guys share that; in the same way, we gain insights into the team that is the Victorian @bushrangers with their players tweeting constantly. It’s not weird, though it is; the ‘off to training, going to really get some good weight training today’ tweets aren’t all that illuminating – but then that’s what footballers do – they train!

Twelve months into Twitter, my consumption personally of ideas has widened a little, but it’s been deepened greatly, especially with a great deal of useful information on how to be more effective in social media and useful reflections on leadership and NGO news, in particular.

It’s hard not to be taken by the delight of having someone you admire retweet you, say; or even better – to meet them (and trying to be when you do…). Maybe there’s a bit of starstruckness (yes, that’s not a word, but it’s my blog and I’m my own grammar po-lice [Wire reference] in all of us.

Or maybe it’s just me! After all, I have Johnny Young‘s autograph. And Kamahl’s. Once I get Marty Monster’s I’d be a very happy child of the 80s.

If Twitter is the chilled out, tieless informal sharing of information and news; LinkedIn (which despite its appalling look and feel I do find very useful) is the ‘suit’; then Facebook is the trackie dacks and old jeans where you can, having locked the account down with the max privacy settings, kick back and relax – and share stuff with your parents.

And really – Kamahl rocks.

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