I joined in January 2009, my then boss telling me ‘it’s the new PR’ and having me take over our company handles while building my own.
From the moment I joined I found support from every which way; from the beauty bloggers who welcomed me with open arms and the women who’d reply at 3am when I was having an anxiety attack to the other writers, singletons and friends who’d respond quicker to random questions or thoughts than if I were to text a close friend. After a tough breakup, I even found the fun in talking to guys again, hidden behind my keyboard and getting excited every time I heard that Tweetdeck alert, dating someone who got to know me very quickly thanks to those 140 character posts. I met women who became my best friends, whose weddings I’ve been to, whose babies I’ve held, who I holiday with, who I couldn’t imagine not knowing now, seven years on, where one lives with another of my friends and another, the most generous person I’ve ever had the luck to meet, makes me laugh daily no matter what struggles we are both dealing with. I’ve met so many wonderful people through it that I’ve lost count.
I’ve made connections with people I came to cherish who I’ve then lost to the cruelty of depression, who I miss dearly even though we never met. I’ve found colleagues, from incredible interns and writers who came to help me in the midst of startup madness (and later became mentors and friends) to the team I’m in today, in a job I was offered after I loved the site so much I followed everyone that worked on it on Twitter just to be inspired, if nothing else.
I’ve shared my biggest moments with those few thousand people who inexplicably follow me, from losing my grandparents to gaining a nephew, winning awards to finding out my mum had the all clear from cancer. I’ve spoken with experts and editors in the beauty industry who, without Twitter, wouldn’t even know who I was let alone reply to my mini message of how much I loved their work. I have cried with laughter at the #whowillspeakforEngland hashtag and felt like part of a community when chatting along to #XFactor (the main thing I’ll miss when the show goes is the tweets). I’ve followed feminists who motivate me and learned the true horror of #everydaysexism, and watched the news unfold second by second during riots, terrorism attacks and when the story breaks of a childhood hero passing away. I honestly think my followers probably know me better than some of my closest real life friends; they read my thoughts, frustrations and comments in real time, with no filter or agenda – and I feel like I know them, even if we’ve never met and they perhaps don’t even follow me back.
It’s the first place I go for information, inspiration and conversation. The kindness of other tweeters is something you can’t even find on the likes of Facebook, where you’re friends with your real life friends. I have, if I can bring myself to use this hideous millennial word, found my ‘tribe’, and I’ll never forget nor stop talking to those early follows and followers who taught me so much and helped me find my way; but I’ll also continue to find new people, a new follow there and another follower here, because the tribe is ever growing. You just never know who you might chat to next, and for a shy girl from a tiny village like me that’s an exciting prospect. It might be their 10th birthday today, but Twitter for me is like one big, never-ending party, full of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet or talk to, whether it’s just in passing or as the start of a great friendship.
So here’s to the teenage years of Twitter – I can’t wait to see what happens next.