Twitter: A Love Story

March 26, 2012 by  

Matt and Cere have much in common. They’re both attractive thirty-somethings who are regulars on Twitter. They have been dating for about two months. They live on different continents. And they have never met.

Social media, like online dating before it, has the potential to revolutionise the way modern people connect and interact with one another. The quaint days of meeting at school or through a friend may not be over, but the web opens a brave new world of possibility. It’s easy to imagine a teenage boy, who has no need to write angst-ridden poetry after being rejected by the girl-next-door – as he can simply switch on his computer and chat to any number of girls in the digital realm.

There are numerous advantages to using Twitter as a platform to meet people, such as not having to awkwardly deal with parents at the start of a relationship. Unlike online dating sites, on which users can easily manipulate their profiles and over-sell themselves, Twitter is far more revealing.

“I’ve found Twitter especially to be a very good litmus test for someone’s personality; the 140-character limit doesn’t leave a lot of room for obfuscation,” said Matt Baldwin (@thisbrokenwheel), who lives in San Diego in the US. “People who are insincere or unpleasant tend to reveal it rather quickly.”

His girlfriend, Ceredwyn Nortje (@Dwyndle), a South African student in Edinburgh, Scotland, whom he met on Twitter, agreed. “Twitter is a great way to meet people. People I have met tend to be more open and honest – perhaps because we can’t see each other.”

Twitter, though, is not a direct rival to dating sites. The way it is utilised differs from person to person. For some it is a source of news, for others a social outlet. Few regular users visit it to trawl for attractive members of the opposite (or the same) sex. But human nature, such as it is, often takes the mind on a different journey.

Jennie Greenhill (@JennieGreenhill), a 39-year-old South African, has been on Twitter since September 2009. When she signed up to the microblogging platform, she had no idea that it would have the capacity to take her in to a relationship with another Twitter user.

“I cannot say that Twitter can be considered an online dating service, but one does get to see the personality of the people you interact with more clearly than with a dating site – purely because people are not there to date. I find that people let their guard down on Twitter more easily.”

Her Twitter relationship is over now but she did meet her Twitter boyfriend in real life. “He lived in Cape Town and I am in Johannesburg, but we did meet. It was amazing to spend time together in the same room and we were very compatible.”

For Jennie, who has used online dating services, Twitter’s authenticity offers advantages. “Online dating is forced and false and completely desperate at times. There is a repetition of your life story and theirs that is exhausting.”

The concept of Twitter dating is still a new one and no figures are available as to how many long-lasting relationships have come about through the platform. The other side of the story has, however, received some bad press, with the Daily Mail citing an OKCupid report that states that Twitter users have on average shorter relationships than non-Twitter users.

With Twitter’s role in the modern world still being relatively new and unknown, experts do not want to speak about its potential impact on relationships, or state whether it presents any dangers. One psychologist believes that social media is incidental to the health of relationships; ultimately the problems lie with the people involved.
Matt and Cere’s relationship has since progressed beyond Twitter to incorporate Skype, phone, email, Whatsapp and even postal mail, with Matt often sending old-school love letters across the Atlantic.
Cere admits that their relationship “is hard work” but they have big plans. “I’m planning a visit to San Diego in June to meet him,” she said. “We will hopefully be visiting SA in December together as it’s my home and he has a number of friends there. Provided we get on in real life and it’s all good, I plan to move to San Diego mid-end 2013.”

At least anecdotally, it seems Twitter has the power to bring people together, because it’s unique capacity to allow users to filter whom they follow and interact with.

Nonetheless, in informal surveys, many non-Twitter users – and sceptics – view the idea of meeting people through the website as unsavoury, even sleazy. But not for Matt. “I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at how accepting my friends have been about this certainly unconventional relationship,” he said.

For her part, Cere said she too was sceptical about the power of Twitter and social media.

“It was the last thing I expected to happen,” she said. “If someone had told me six months ago it was possible to engage in a genuine relationship with someone on the other side of the world via the internet, I would not have believed them.”

As Twitter and social media become all the more popular, more people might be won over. Perhaps romance is starting to move with the times as the old idea of love at first sight makes way for love in 140 characters.
By Richard Ferraris
Richard Ferraris is a journalist based in the Middle East and is the first mlungu to guest blog for JC. Follow him on Twitter: @ProfCasperelli

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28 Comments on "Twitter: A Love Story"

  1. golden diva on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 1:42 am 

    Interesting article! I think its very hard to hide your true colours on Twitter. Which is why we see so much ugliness and hatred on Twitter. So I can see why as opposed to dating sites, Twitter can be more authentic cos well all you have is an avatar and 140 characters to get your point across.

  2. LeanMachine on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 6:21 am 

    This is so true… I had found some of my best “hook-ups” to be from the Twitter streets. And I actually fell in love with one of them. *cover face*

  3. Vejinity on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 7:58 am 

    I can totally relate to this story, last year February I met a great guy on twitter. The number one reason we hit it off was because its hard to not reveal your true slef on twitter and he and me both let loose with our pesornalities and it became something we both love. We’ve been together for a year now, and things are going great…

  4. manlord on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 8:14 am 

    Lol 1st mlungu to guest blog for JC hebana JC is international now leskatlo dlala

  5. Vesa on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 9:01 am 

    Wow! I’ve never looked at twitter that way. I guess falling in love can happen anytime anywhere with anyone.

  6. snapshot on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 9:10 am 

    Hilililililili *ululating* welcome Mr Ferrari our mlungu friend LOL

    So what’s the difference btwn fb & twitter, honestly I never believed that u can hook up via social network and make it happen until

    1. last week when I heard that someone hot engaged after God blessed her with a hubby via fb.

    2. A friend of mine is now living with her blessing from Georgia they met via FB.

    Its happening and working for others it can happen to you too

  7. snapshot on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 9:22 am 

    So if people meet via social networks do they do the sex waiting period thing or just hit it of considering the fact that they had an automatic involuntary waited to meet

  8. Nthoentle on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 9:30 am 

    checking 1,2 lol kwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa @Nthoentle dont kill me!

  9. lolo on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 9:32 am 

    I have met people via computer not necessarily on Twitter. I think meeting people this way is a horrible idea. Unless you have actually sat down with a person face to face , you can never know what they are really like. Mna I always have such a vivid idea of what a person is like based on how they choose to arrange the alphabet and when I meet the person for real, it is sometimes a let down. And not because of looks, its like sometimes people’s personalities are nightmarish shem!

  10. sxylin on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 9:34 am 

    @Nthoentle i tried but somehow im failing tooo sorry ! xxx hugs and kisses

  11. snapshot on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 9:39 am 

    @Sexylin & Nthoenthle what’s happening with you two

  12. Nthoentle on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 9:59 am 

    @snapshot- this naughty gal @Sxylin hacked my account. LoL

  13. Ms.Zie on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 10:03 am 

    I’ve met two of my male Twitter followers in real life. Both turned out to be attracted to me. I had never picked it up from our online interaction. I felt so foolish. I try and keep my distance now & keep online relations strictly online. It just gets messy. One thing I’ve learnt: People aren’t always who they present themselves to be online. The online bullies are usually sweet people & the ones who’re all preachy preach Mr-Nice-Guy turn out to be as_holes!

  14. Nthoentle on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 10:03 am 

    Kwaaaa @lolo. Mara I agree with you.

    Mara guys its not difficult to be “fake” on social networks, hell most people are. When I was on twitter I used to get shocked at some of the things my friends would say. Double personalities of note

  15. Monei on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 10:17 am 

    kwaaa@”the first mlungu to guest blog for JC.”

    Welcome and thank you Mr Ferraris!

  16. Monei on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 10:18 am 

    uuuhhhmmmm @nthoentle, re dirang jaanong? or are u and sxylin the same person? Kwaaaaaa!

  17. Nthoentle on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 10:20 am 

    Kwaaaaaaa! Yes we are, eish now I’m busted!

  18. Fluffie on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 10:58 am 

    bloody hell I don’t trust people from online shem! I try not to reveal too much while staying true to my character!
    I know people that have actually started relationships from there; but haai it’s just not for me shem! A lot can go wrong from what you first saw!

    Thanks for the article Mr Ferraris!

  19. Makgotso on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 11:07 am 

    Online relationships hell no, friendship yes. I have met lot of people via FB and twitter but will never have a relationship with somebody I met on a cyber without having a physical interaction with that person.

    Weeeeeee it always raises my eyebrows nje ukuthi people go to the cyber world to look for a potential somebody what happened to ukushela emfuleni *hides*

  20. QueenX on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 11:14 am 

    claps once***** Nthoentle & Sexylin…

  21. manny on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 11:42 am 

    it works beliv me…connection ke connection wether its online or live…

  22. H2G on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 11:50 am 

    Thanks maMs.Zie; I think people create certain characters online.I’ve met people too,who say I’m different in real life,I’m a little bit serious about life,that the playfOOL(full) character I present in most social networks-tends to change a bit (in real life interactions).I think people need to try things out,meet the person without promising each other iGolide neSilivere(like Marriage)…then take things from there.
    I disagree with these personality result(s) thingy; because people choose words according to how they want others to view them.Some other !!Yes!! reveal a little bit of their true character(s) (i.e. celebrities…) otherwise ordinary people can just fake or construct any character.So please!*think before making a decision!!!*

  23. Nthoentle on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 12:13 pm 

    Wasup @QueenX? u actually believe me? kwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa DEARTH!!!!

  24. QueenX on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 12:30 pm 

    Nthoentle….mxxm, wena. lol

  25. sxylin on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 12:43 pm 


  26. L.S.N on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 1:40 pm 

    I’ve met great people from social networks. It works for some and doesn’t for others.

  27. Nthoentle on Mon, 26th Mar 2012 1:42 pm 

    LOL *hugs* @QueenX

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