Why Twitter Friends Are Better Than Co-Workers

If you asked me if I had a job, I would easily tell you no. I would tell you that I was “laid off” back in July 2009 (yes, I am using those quotes appropriately if you read between the lines).

But ask me if I work? The answer is yes. And I don’t mean yes in the I’m-a-mom-dammit-and-moms-work-just-as-hard-as-anyone-else kind of way. I mean, I feel like I have a job. I write. I dabble in marketing and social media. I just don’t get paid for it. Yet.

However, this is no office job. I should know. I spent years chained to a desk. Not literally. I mean, I could get up and walk around but couldn’t just take a walk in the park if I felt so inclined. I didn’t have much freedom. I guess I could come in a little late or leave a little early if needed. But there was always someone watching and waiting to report on you (the jealous ones).

When I worked for a Major Corporation as few years ago, I was working in one of the divisions right here in Raleigh. We started as a small software company during the dot com boom. We weren’t a dot com but if you were working in technology at the time, you probably had a non-traditional work environment.

I worked in an office full of 20-somethings. We were all single. We had a soda fountain in the kitchen (free sodas), tables full of snacks (free candy bars, free chips), and a freezer full of munchies (also free). We worked late most nights and on most weekends. We took long lunches every Friday where we went and had burgers and beers.

Then our small software company was bought by the Major Corporation. We eventually were assimilated into a corporate-like structure. We welcomed new faces to our office but for the most part, the only thing that changed was our compensation (for the better).

I moved around laterally and got to know everyone in the division. I even worked with global sales teams around the world. I hustled and bustled and became too busy when I was at the office to get my work done. I tried the “working from home” thing once a week. I thought the quiet time at home would let me focus and be more productive.

I was wrong. I was so happy to have time at home that I found myself just throwing in a load of laundry. Or taking a long bath. Or long lunch. Or playing piano. Then I would try to work and get distracted again. I’ll admit it. I was bored and lonely.

A few years later and the Major Corporation had grown tired of our little division. Perhaps it was the pace at which we worked, or the bugs in the software, or the difficulty selling our complex product out in the field. Whatever it was, things began to change from the top down.

Although I wasn’t in a position (nor did I have the desire) to relocate, I decided to make a change as well. I applied for a Corporate Position. After some grueling interviews, I got the job that reported in to Corporate in a Midwest City. I was able to stay in Raleigh and make monthly trips to the Midwest City.

For some reason, even though I worked virtually, our Chief Marketing Officer wanted to ensure that I was in an office every day. I drove to the Raleigh office where I was working and sat behind my same desk even though I no longer worked directly with any of the people in that division. It was weird because I was part of the office but not really.

Years later, here I am in a totally new situation. I’m home every day. I don’t mind it one bit. I don’t get bored. I don’t get lonely. I certainly don’t get distracted by housework anymore. So what’s changed? What’s different?

I figured it out. It’s my co-workers. Everyone on Twitter is my co-worker. We chit chat over coffee or laugh around the water cooler. We tell stories about our kids or the show we watched last night. We share links to funny stories or put our best work out there for everyone to see. But it’s better than traditional co-workers. Here’s why.

Twitter Friends are awesome because:

  • You can turn Twitter on and off and no one really knows.
  • You don’t have to pay attention to every conversation.
  • You don’t have to listen to what everyone says.
  • If you miss something in a conversation, you can always go back and catch up.
  • If you aren’t paying attention when someone’s talking to you, you can check your @ mentions so they’ll never know.
  • You can walk away for a bathroom emergency and not have to tell anyone.
  • You can “magically” disappear from a conversation if you want to.
  • If someone really annoys you, you can simply unfollow them.
  • If someone really offends you, you can simply block them.
  • If you want to whisper about something or someone, you can politely send a direct message (DM) to someone else.
  • There’s always someone there if you need a break or a distraction.
  • There are always new people to meet and discover.

Co-workers aren’t as awesome because:

  • You can’t choose who you work with.
  • You have to actually look at your co-workers, some of which might be unsightly.
  • You have to deal with strange body odors (remember, I worked with a lot of software developers).
  • You inevitably have to deal with someone that thinks they are the fashion police.
  • Someone is always trying to stomp on you with backstabbing or tattle-telling.
  • If you get wrapped up in a boring conversation, it’s not easy to walk away (especially if they don’t get the visual cues that you’re done).

So I guess this is my way of saying thanks for keeping me company throughout the day. Thanks for making me feel like I’m not alone. Thanks for listening to my boring stories. If you do actually walk away during my story, please don’t tell me. I’ll just assume you had a bathroom emergency.

  • http://gopopgo.wordpress.com/ Pop

    You also have to deal with disgusting bathroom practices, e.g., not flushing after a #2 and not washing your hands. YUCK!

    And it’d be nice if I could opt-in to hear what some of my co-workers think :-P

    • Anonymous

      Oh man. That reminds me of the tall, attractive blond woman that worked in the law office across the hall. She NEVER washed her hands. Who would have guessed that?

    • Anonymous

      Oh man. That reminds me of the tall, attractive blond woman that worked in the law office across the hall. She NEVER washed her hands. Who would have guessed that?

  • Jen

    Fadra this is all so true! I like how you made that comparison. I also talk freely to everyone on Twitter vs. when I’m IRL situations. I feel less judged and have a sense of I can be open with my virtual buddies an then when we do get a chance to meet, I feel like I’ve known them forever! *smiles*

    • Anonymous

      It’s kind of like high school When you work in an office, you are stuck with those people. But when you work virtually, you get to pick and choose who you want to talk to. And your choices are much broader!

    • Anonymous

      It’s kind of like high school When you work in an office, you are stuck with those people. But when you work virtually, you get to pick and choose who you want to talk to. And your choices are much broader!

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  • http://www.loulousviews.com Loukia

    Totally agree! I’m not very close with any of my co-workers, but with Twitter on my computer all day (oops, did I say that out loud?) I never feel lonely! :)

    • Anonymous

      I don’t know what I’d do if I went back to work in a real office. I couldn’t give up Twitter. You guys are my peeps!!

    • Anonymous

      I don’t know what I’d do if I went back to work in a real office. I couldn’t give up Twitter. You guys are my peeps!!

  • Temysmom

    Awesome post. I’ve started telling people I’m a writer who works from home and you are right about twitter friends being our co-workers. I look forward to “going to work” every day.

    • Anonymous

      It’s a true sign that you love writing. I feel the same way. I get excited when I sit in front of my computer – something I NEVER felt with an office job.

    • Anonymous

      It’s a true sign that you love writing. I feel the same way. I get excited when I sit in front of my computer – something I NEVER felt with an office job.

  • http://wwwjackbenimble.blogspot.com/ The JackB

    I don’t miss the office environment very much. Love coming to work in shorts and a t-shirt. I can play music while I work without worrying about anyone being distracted, offended or irritated.

    The freedom is nice.

  • http://www.kellyology.net/ Kellyology

    I so don’t miss the office environment at all, for all of the same reasons. And I love my tweeps for all of the same reason. It’s kind of funny, but I wrote about my life in social media as well today. It’s been such a relief to have it over the years. Though I do have to say, some days I still get bored. Thought that my just be my short attention span rearing it’s ugly head. :)

  • http://www.myfjordz.com/ fjordz

    I’m still working in an office-type environment though I also have a separate job where I work online at home. Well, as you say, having Twitter friends are really better than co-workers. I agree with you. And with all those bullets you mentioned, yeah, everything’s practically right!

    Just one comment, do you really think software developers have ‘strange body odors’? Haha!

  • http://twitter.com/bos_sportswoman Boston Sports Woman

    Thank you so much for this!!! I was laid off almost a year ago, and found an entire new world of online friends and real-world friends of real women! Being in Boston, we’ve been hit hard by the recession, however, those of us who truly believe, and I mean really believe in our passions, will be the ones to stay with. Love your writing!

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  • http://twitter.com/BlogMamaAndrea Andrea W

    Hello Twitter Friend! I love Twitter. I never thought I would but I do. It probably keeps me from getting a lot of things done but I don’t think I would have survived all the recent changes in my life without it. Nor would I have survived with out my Twitter friends.

    Twitter friends are the best at listening and offering advice…and recipes when needed.

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  • http://twitter.com/deirdrereid Deirdre Reid, CAE

    I *finally* read this — I’m way behind on my Reader but looking forward to catching up on good stuff this weekend. I know what you mean. Sometimes when I wake up I’m incredibly excited to grab my coffee and turn on the laptop so I can write, think, read, chat, whatever.

    I try to make time for Twitter in the morning and then late in the day so I can hang out with my ‘office mates.’ Fadra, I never thought of all of you that way before but it rings true. I chat, I learn, I get exposed to new ideas, new information — what’s not to love. And doing this all in comfy clothes — no bra! sorry, guys — is even better.

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  • http://www.misssrobin.blogspot.com/ Misssrobin

    This kind of makes it sound like I need to learn how to actually use Twitter instead of just updating my status.  Hm.  I guess I’ll have to ponder that.

    I learned a few things from your post that give me a reason to try, though.

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