It is hard to know whether weird people feel empowered by social media to be themselves, or if normal people are compelled toward awkwardness in their use of same, but either way, Twitter can produce odd outcomes in what outwardly seem straightforward exchanges.
Case in point: had a fella take the time to delete his depressed, cry-for-help tweet and respond to my response by telling me that responding to me wasn’t “worth his time” and then HE called ME weird. What?
Totally and completely beside the point, except I wrote him because he tweeted that he felt even more isolated in Roanoke after attending Xperience2015. Assuming that was a genuine statement, I responded like Daniel L. Crandall, with care and compassion. That didn’t work out so well.
None of that matters at all beyond the fact that I was following #xperience2015 and other related tags because I was really curious how this “Xperience” xperiment was going to work out. I want to be supportive of efforts to recruit and retain young professionals, but I’m just not sure they work. For instance, the premise of Xperience 2015 seems to have been that there are young professionals here in the Valley who need to be convinced to stay, and that an inclusive conference setting is a way to introduce them to people, ideas, and activities they didn’t already know about and which might help anchor them here in Noke. That doesn’t sound like an outrageously good time to me, and I have at least one really close friend on Twitter who thinks slitting his wrists would have been a more profitable use of his time.
Seriously, though, consider the example of Mr. Twitter. He is apparently a local young professional, and he made an effort to connect, giving up his Friday night and Saturday to do so. That is not nothing; that is a real commitment and a real attempt. What happened at this event that so badly backfired for this guy?
Were this a standard “networking” opportunity, I would first question whether this guy tends toward a wallflower personality, and second whether he knows himself well enough to know that he was not going to enjoy mingling at a cocktail party.
But I’m going to defend him and say (regardless of his personality type) the event certainly should not have been structured like that, and if it was, shame on the organizers. Folks who know how to schmooze and network don’t need a big dumb networking event to expand their network of people with whom to network. While I’m not opposed to that kind of crap generally, if the purpose of your event is to retain young people who are having a HARD TIME CONNECTING, then you have to make it easy for them and not herd ’em all into a room and just expect magical connections to start forming. If they were good at that sort of shit, they’d have already done it.
But on the other hand!: Yeah, so, on the other hand, we’re talking about a guy who tweeted his isolation and turned on the one person who responded with real empathy. So there’s that.
I’m willing to give this guy all the benefits of all the doubts – because it is my blog and I can – and say it is entirely possible he was joking about his isolation, or maybe he just got dumped by his girlfriend and so wasn’t in a great state of mind either at Xperience or on Twitter, or maybe he just thought I was trolling him. The force of my sexy baller persona is extremely intimidating; perhaps he couldn’t handle it. There are many possibilities.
To sum up, Xperience2015 may or may not have been a success/train wreck and people on Twitter are bitter/compassionate/weird/hopeful/confused.