I hate nostalgia. Well, I hate other people’s nostalgia. I quite like my own. And I want to indulge my nostalgia as I recently celebrated being two years married to Paula. This isn’t just a piece of nostalgia about Paula. It’s also about Twitter. I’ve a somewhat rose-tinted view of old Twitter. I remember Twitter in 2012 as being a much gentler environment than the febrile maelstrom that it has now become. And it was in 2012 Twitter that I met Paula.
I’d joined Twitter with certain goals in mind. First, I wanted to meet fellow Middle Earth and Federation nerds. I had been assured that nerds lived in the internet and not in really rural Kerry. Second, I wanted to tout my blog. And finally, I’d declaim on politics. I knew everything and would enlighten the gentle folk of the internet machine with my incisive assessments.
I got a bit of a shock. I quickly realised the people there were smarter and more interesting than me. I reacted to this in a way I still take pride in, I enjoyed it. I learned a great deal and I made friends. Many good friends, but friends I never got to see in real life as they almost all lived in Dublin. I found myself quite jealous anytime a tweetup was being planned and I couldn’t go because of either work commitments or lack of funds. But I got to talk about Middle Earth and about why Deep Space 9 is the best Star Trek. And people read my blog. A blog I had to improve as I knew now the calibre of person I wanted reading my thoughts and opinions.
And Twitter being Twitter, it managed to combine my writing and Lord of the Rings into a meeting with the woman I eventually married.
Paula was on Twitter but we weren’t aware of each other. Irish Twitter was tiny so there was only ever a few degrees of separation between us all. The ‘degree’ between us was Andrew Madden. I’d written a piece that had been provoked by an unpleasant (not homophobic obviously as we aren’t allowed say that word anymore) Irish Independent column. It proved a popular post and was brought to Paula’s attention by Andrew. We began to follow each other. There was nothing of romance at this time as I knew Paula to be a lesbian.
I wrote my article on October 31, 2011. We met for the first on October 29, 2012. And we met because of Lord of the Rings.
The RTE Concert Orchestra was due to perform the music of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and as I’d been to the Fellowship of The Ring performance, I was definitely going to this one. It occurred to me that this would be a great opportunity to arrange my very own tweetup. To finally meet the people I’d been chatting to for a year or so. It took place in O’Neill’s on Suffolk Street. To my surprise and joy it was well-attended and many of the people went on to be guests at our wedding.
Again, there was no romantic connection but there was a connection. I thought she was a lesbian so it didn’t occur to me that a romantic connection was even possible. But a firm friend she would definitely be. What I hadn’t read before we met, was a post she’d written, coming out as bi. We worked out a few months later that it had been published during a Twitter break I was on. Yes, even in Old Twitter, Twitter breaks were a thing.
Poor sheltered culchie that I am, I hadn’t encountered someone who was bi before. I wasn’t entirely clear of the rules. But over a few months of DMs we decided a date was called for. And it just so happened that I’d be in Dublin for the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. We’d planned to see each other on 17th as I was going to the cinema on the 16th. But we decided we couldn’t wait so we met briefly on the 16th, before I headed to the cinema. We married 15 months later. Half the guests were friends we had made on Twitter.
I am aware that I remember old Twitter through a fog of nostalgic bliss. But I think you’ll agree that my excuse for doing so is a good one. Because of Twitter (and Lord of the Rings) I met my wife to be. Because of The Hobbit, I went on my first date with my future wife. The only sad part is Paula couldn’t give a shit about Lord of the Rings.