Twitter Doesn’t Do You Justice

Are you a people watcher? Not only do I watch people, but I create stories about them. I used to work at a drugstore (back when they were called drugstores) and I sure saw plenty of story-worthy people.

I would see the old weathered lady that would come in for the same pack of smokes every day and imagine how her life was back in the glory days. I would see the middle aged single cat lady (in my mind) who would always buy big boxes of maxipads and band-aids. I actually never really came up with a story for her. I didn’t really want to know.

I have to admit I do something similar for people on Twitter. No, I don’t imagine you as a lonely cat lady (unless that’s actually how you present yourself). But I do create these personas based on those little tiny pictures on Twitter we call avatars. I usually call them Twitpics but you know what I mean.

I’ve been surprised by how many people I’ve met in real life that I know on Twitter that I didn’t recognize. Sometimes the pictures are just grossly out of date or an extremely pleasing angle or really heavy use of Photoshop. Those are the surprises where I have to quickly get the look off my face that says “Wow, that picture totally does not look like you” and change it to “Wow, you look different than I expected!”

That’s not to say I sit in judgment of everyone I meet. But I am a very visual person, especially when it comes to conferences and you’re overwhelmed by all the new people you’re meeting. Here’s how it works for me.

I see you. I meet you. I awkwardly ask you your Twitter ID. It still doesn’t ring a bell. I look up your Twitter ID on my phone and see how I see you on Twitter. I finally connect the dots. I squeal a little and then I give you a big hug. I’ve done this enough times to know that this is how it’s going to go.

What I am always surprised at, though, is how the real YOU differs from the Twitter persona I’ve created in my head. Here are a few recent real life examples. All positive, I swear.

This is Kia’s twitpic. You can find Kia on Twitter as @notthecar. It probably has something to do with her Twitter handle but I thought Kia was a truck driver. A middle-aged Jewish truck driver. No, I’m not stereotyping in any way. It’s probably just a few things that she tweeted that made me think that way. It turns out that Kia is about as far away from a middle-aged Jewish truck driver as you can get. I found that out when we rode to Type-A Parent Conference together and we both had a good laugh about it. I finally get that she is Kia, not the car. Get it?

This is Kirsten’s twitpic. You can find Kirsten on Twitter as @nilsenlife. I can’t remember if I met Kirsten at Bloggy Boot Camp in Baltimore or not but I know that’s how we connected on Twitter. She reminds me of a college friend who was quite short and a tad on the thick side. So in my mind, she was a tiny little stout girl. We recently had coffee together when I was up in her hometown and it turns out she towers over me. She quite tall and quite athletic. Thank God I realized all this through some Facebook stalking before we met so I didn’t have the look of incredulity on my face.

And then there’s Stella, known on Twitter as @stellaaa. We tweet a lot and have shared recipes. Well, she has shared her recipes. She’s a big foodie, she’s from the Philippines, and she lives in NYC. We have a lot to talk about when it comes to food. So when I went to NYC last weekend for BlogHer Writers, it only made sense for Stella to take me out to dinner (a fantastic Japanese ramen house called Ippudo). What I wasn’t expecting was for her to be so little. Like, cute and adorable little. I imagined her much taller but she confessed she thought I was taller too.

Have you met Nicole? I’ve met her several times now. I know her on Twitter as @bywordsmusings. The only word I ever use to describe Nicole now is lovely. Because she is. We met at Type-A Parent Conference and again at BlogHer. I’m sure I knew it but simply forgot. Nicole is English, or British, or South African. Or all of the above. She has an accent and it took me by surprise. But now she never lets me forget that I say the word “niche” wrong. Apparently, it should be pronounced “neesh” and not “nitch.”

I’ve only recently fallen in love with Jenna. She’s better known as @FireMom. I connected with her through BlogHer, the network, and met her in person at BlogHer Writers. She’s one of those people that you can just sit down and start talking to with no get-to-know-you pretenses. But without the proper filter in place, when I met her, I said, “I thought you were a blonde!” Yes. It’s great way to make a first impression. Looking at her picture now, I’m not sure how I thought that. Maybe it’s that the black and white photos have more highlights in the picture and I took them to be, well, highlights. For the record, she is not blonde.

And here is Dresden. Dresden recently came out of the blogging closet. She was an anonymous blogger for years but we now know her as @DresdenPlaid. Dresden and I met through Social Media Moms and I’ve been dying to meet her in person. I had the opportunity last weekend at BlogHer Writers. And my impression? She so much younger than I thought! Maybe it’s because she seems full of wisdom. But she’s just a young babe. And an awesome one at that.

Yesterday, I got to meet a local. This is Brandy who I know on Twitter as @mannlymama. She’s totally awesome because she gave me a boatload of shoes for my Soles4Souls shoe drive. We also chatted about her current and my former corporate life. Ahh, the memories. What surprised me about Brandy is I was expecting a taller, huskier, smoky-voiced southern girl. Brandy is super cute and petite and pretty much the opposite of everything I thought.

Maybe Twitter meetings are like a blind date. You never know what to expect entirely. But I’m happy to admit that I’ve been pleasantly surprised by everyone I’ve met. And I’d gladly go on a second date.

 

  • http://stopdropandblog.com FireMom

    That picture was turned black and white for this reason: I absolutely needed to order my business cards for BlogHer ’11. But my hair appointment wasn’t for 2 more weeks. The gray and the roots were… DEEPLY VISIBLE. LOL So, black and white it was. Plus, I’m a black and white lover.

    As a note: Even when my avatar is in color, it still doesn’t match my hair. It changes every six weeks. And it’s changing today. My youngest said to go green. Maybe not quite that intense. LOL

    • Anonymous

      I actually love that picture. And I love black and white too. So there you go. I saw you as a hot blonde. Not some lady with graying hair :)

      I say go red for autumn. Or chocolate brown. 

      • http://stopdropandblog.com FireMom

        I went a very deep red. With a muted green feather. I’m gettin’ all fancy pants up in here!

        And my husband loves that you saw me as a blonde. He always wants me to give blonde a try (not in a “DO YOUR HAIR THIS WAY, WOMAN” but in a “I know you’re dyeing your hair anyway, so did you consider this color?” way), but I point to my eyebrows and say, “yeah, no.” heh

  • http://www.sarahpinneo.com/blog Sarah / Julia’s Child

    Now I wish I’d been able to meet you at BlogHer Writers! But when you asked the question, and I was 50 feet across the room, I thought: “okay, I can see the resemblance.”  :-)

    • Anonymous

      So are you wishing I had judged your Twitpic too? ;)

      The beauty of being online is there is a very good chance we’ll cross paths IRL. Maybe when I come to one of your book signings?

  • NilsenLife

    ha!  when I saw your title I wondered if I might make the short list. :)  People watching is one of my most favorite things, and ultimately where most of my blog fodder comes from.  I should hang out on Twitter more often just for that…

    • Anonymous

      There are days when this social media gal feels less than social. I hang out on Twitter and just watch. I trace back conversation and maybe read interesting blog links. It’s fun to be a voyeur and it’s actually a great way to stretch your imagination.

  • http://twitter.com/GDRPempress Good Day, Reg People

    I remember meeting you, Fadra: and, on this blog: you’re all business and know how and take charge, and in person: you were so little and cute and sweet and funny.

    • Anonymous

      I could never be a humor blogger but I always seem to find the joke in everything. Maybe it’s a nervous habit or maybe it’s a defense mechanism. As for you? In my mind, you were regal, elegant and Spanish. You properly fit the bill when we met :)

  • Helene Bludman

    Love the post! We’ll meet IRL soon hopefully and you’ll let me know if your preconception of me was valid. :)

    • Anonymous

      I’ll never tell ;)

  • http://www.mydishwasherspossessed.blogspot.com Kathyradigan

    What a fun post! I’m now so glad you didn’t see my picture first before we met, I would hate to think I look worse than my harried picture with my kids!!! Lol!! It is funny how we get an impression from being a long distance friend to what the reality is. Thanks again for a fun post!

    • Anonymous

      Actually, you look EXACTLY like your harried picture. But I mean that in a good way. You photograph well :)

  • http://twitter.com/Stellaaa Stella Dacuma Schour

    YAY! Thanks! Aaaaw. Now that i think of it, my super uneven shoulders pose looks like I have a bad case of scoliosis. I do relish the fact that you thought i was tall (and i still think you are the towering model) because nobody thought i was. I love this pic – it makes me feel like steve jobs, you know? LOL

    I wish my stomach and arms were also cute and adorable little, however, they have a mind of their own. hahaha

    • Anonymous

      Actually, I love the pose. It’s very artistic. I still think I am the towering model too. I just can’t get many people to agree with me.

      As for the stomach? Well, when you like food as much as we do, that becomes a bit of a problem :)

  • http://twitter.com/Stellaaa Stella Dacuma Schour

    YAY! Thanks! Aaaaw. Now that i think of it, my super uneven shoulders pose looks like I have a bad case of scoliosis. I do relish the fact that you thought i was tall (and i still think you are the towering model) because nobody thought i was. I love this pic – it makes me feel like steve jobs, you know? LOL

    I wish my stomach and arms were also cute and adorable little, however, they have a mind of their own. hahaha

  • http://twitter.com/ByWordsMusings Nicole Morgan

    Oh so sweet Fadra with the beautiful complexion which I will envy to my dying day ….
    yes, educate them all.
    Niche like quiche
    not nitch like … ahem ….

    and thank you for ‘having’ me here today!

    • Anonymous

      When I was at BlogHer Writers, I had to say the word niche and you immediately came to mind. I thought, will they all laugh at me if I say nitch? But if I try to say neesh, it might sound unnatural and forced.

      So thanks for my angst. In the end, I said nitch like…

  • Anonymous

    You know when you first told me the truck driver story i was laughing pretty damn hard. That was a new one for me and yeah furthest thing from the truth. Misleading avi in a good way but it does make people think. 

    • Anonymous

      Notice I revealed nothing about who you TRULY are. We’ll keep the air of mystery about you.

  • http://twitter.com/LadyAnne525 Anne Hogan

    I love this list!  We met in person before Twitter – but I swear I can never change my avatar – more people know Teddy than me!  ;)

    • Anonymous

      Was your hair shorter or pulled back when we met? Because your pic looks like you but you look different. I’ve branded myself on my photo even though it’s not that great. Maybe if I have a really good hair day, I’ll think about changing it.

      • http://twitter.com/LadyAnne525 Anne Hogan

        Yes, my hair is a lot shorter now.  :)

  • http://twitter.com/MommaBeThyName Momma

    Me? Short and stout. Just so there’s no confusion. ;-)

    • Anonymous

      You’ll always look like an angel in my mind :)

  • http://twitter.com/_ScooterMarie Jocelyn

    This is so funny because I do the same thing! I have everyone’s voices picked out and everything, and I’m sure I’m way off base on all of them. My avatar is totally different from me in real life, because I never make a kissy face. Never. Why I did for this pic, I have no idea, but of course it’s the one I chose to use. Maybe I should update it someday…

    • Anonymous

      I will say that I have studied your pic long and hard (again, the whole visual association). Your picture does NOT do you justice because I’ve seen pics on your blog. But really, it comes down to finding a picture YOU like.

      • http://twitter.com/_ScooterMarie Jocelyn

        Why thanks! Yeah, I picked it when I started blogging more semi-anonymously. But now you’ve got me thinking it may be time to switch…

  • http://twitter.com/dutchbeingme Julie

    You and I are so similar – I do the same thing. Usually it’s more when I’m driving alone… so I come up with why and where people are going to. My stories are better than the radio. :)

    Also? Thanks for some new people to follow as well!

    • Anonymous

      You know, I almost included you in this post. But it started getting way too long. I was going to talk about how I had the hardest time getting it out of my head that you did NOT have a Dutch accent!

  • Anonymous

    Hmm…I think I expected you to be taller but was pleasantly surprised you weren’t. But the best surprise? That we talked liked old friends… :)

  • http://babywithatwist.wordpress.com KH99

    Fun post!  I’ve met a few people from Twitter IRL and I expected them to be huge, towering figures based on their reputation, insights, etc.  But they weren’t…they were just ordinary, normal people.  This post reminds me that I need to get a new pic for my avatar.  That one is a few years old and my hair isn’t remotely like that anymore.

  • http://chroniclesofpookahsmom.com Rose’s Daughter

    I’m the same way! I recently met one of my Bloggy friends and she was nothing like I expected! I had concocted a think southern accent and all sorts of other traits. Total opposite! Lol