Although I have worked in digital marketing and journalism for about four years in total, I have never been to a tweet-up. This might have something to do with not being on Twitter, the platform on which these things are set up, until fairly recently. It might also have something to do with the word itself. Tweet-up. Do meetings arranged on the internet not carry enough stigma as it is without a daft name that makes it sound like an urban hip-hop initiative for birds?
If you were to explain the term ‘tweet-up’ to the man on the street, or a less tech-savvy friend during a text-up or phone-up, they’d probably narrow their eyes and feel sorry for your parents. If they had no choice but to listen, however, they’d probably conjure images of a pale-skinned virgins wearing thick glasses and band t-shirts, sat around a bleeding Vic 20, having just the one beer (to keep their allergies at bay) and discussing algorithms and the best season of Stargate. The truth, unfortunately, is markedly different.
Manchester’s digital community doesn’t just begin and end with the office walls, which is a good thing. People from different agencies and organisations know and converse with each other daily, despite sometimes having never even met. I haven’t seen this in any other job I’ve been in (when I worked at McDonalds in Fallowfield, anyone found texting someone at the Chorlton branch would have been shunned, or made to work Chicken Side by themselves on a Saturday).
Tweet-ups, unsurprisingly, suit the digital community of Manchester (or any other city) well. Often, people working for a Manchester agency are new to the city itself, and subsequently know anyone, with these meetings a great way of making friends and contacts. As I’ve said, I’ve never been to one, for all manner of mysterious reasons (jail), but this week I decided to take the plunge and put my name down for a tweet-up.
It takes place in a couple of months, enough time to LOL-myself-dead on related hashtags, and I’ve signed up because I personally know some of the people going. These people are the buffer between me and a dark, mysterious internet world, and the comfort blanket for when my conversations with @mcrseoledge and @iheartthewire inevitably go awry.
If I’m being honest, my apprehension towards these meetings is this: I cannot escape the idea that a tweet-up is basically a flaccid sex meeting for phones. On one side of the room stand men on their phones, and on the other stand the women. The rules of this particular night ask that people not use their phones, but if that means throwing them into the middle of the room as part of some weird ‘networking ritual’, I’m leaving.