Here's what I love about the Seattle intersection of Twitter and Foodlovers: there is a real, live community of warm, gifted, funny, discerning, generous, talented, ethical, hospitable, and empathetic people behind the avatars. Not all people are all of those things all of the time, but that's a pretty daunting string of qualities for any one person to embody 24/7, no?
And here's what I worry about: no one really knows yet how to negotiate the parameters and etiquette of online social networking that leads to such community in real life.
So here's my Own Private Twittiquette Manifesto, which may be adopted or scorned by others. But it will guide my behavior:
1. If I tweet that I'm with a group of people at a public location, say, a café, I will not be surprised or alarmed if others want to join. That's the risk I run for being public. If I make something sound enticing, who can blame people for being enticed?
2. If someone else tweets that there is a group of people at a public location, say, a café, and I really want to go, I will DM someone in that group and inquire about whether it's a private function. If I don't know anyone in the group well enough to DM them, I will stay at home and enjoy the banter of others.
3. If people are discussing a gathering at someone's home, and I'm not explicitly invited, I assume no invitation. I will accept that there is no way that everyone can go to everything; that people have limited entertainment space; and that I will go to something else at another time.
4. If I'm hosting something, I will try not to tweet about it unless I'm oriented toward openness or prepared to explain my guest policy otherwise.
5. I will never bring extra people along to something at someone's home without explicit permission from the host.
6. But I will be gracious if someone brings someone else to my home--I will not embarrass anyone.
The reality is that this is all murky. In addition to safety (I mean, it goes without saying that I will not meet someone no one's vouched for the first time by handing out my address, right?), my guiding principle is that I want to support community. I also want to be IN community. That doesn't mean I get to go to everything, it doesn't mean I want to be in exclusionary community, it doesn't mean I have enough space to host as many people as I would like. Murky, see?
But the murkiness and risk of tripping are a small price to pay for being on this community journey, which is mostly a delicious (in every sense of the word) adventure.
For that I give thanks.
What are your thoughts?