I’ve been using Twitter for over a year now and it has already surprised me a number of times.
This time, it simply knocked me off my socks.
But first, I have to tell you how it started.
I met Ben in late 2007 during an 8 hour layover at Atlanta International Airport.
I was traveling home from a long stay in Chile and found myself at the largest crossroads of my life: with a lot of unanswered questions, but also with this newly gained confidence that things would be alright some way or another.
Atlanta Airport is huge. It’s actually the largest airport in the world. The hours crept by very slowly as I walked around, checked the shops and exhibitions between areas A, B, C, D and E (each the size of Schiphol Airport), had a bowl of pasta and checked my email a dozen times.
I finally settled for a while at a random waiting area with a nice view of the planes. That’s where I first noticed Ben, with his sporty looks and very bright blue eyes. Two solo travelers in their late twenties trying to make the best of their lives.
We got talking and spent a few hours there. After moaning about the long wait, our conversation quickly went from life changing decisions to work, love, travel, family, religion and philosophy.
We ended up exchanging email addresses and went our separate ways, his plane leaving shortly before mine.
Keeping in Touch… or Not
Our email conversations were few and infrequent, yet long and profound. It was always a delight to receive such a digital letter full of wisdom and care. He was so spiritual and so wise – an old and very kind soul in the body of a young man looking for his destination. Finding his way in life, just like me.
Ben and I talked over the phone a couple of times and the spiritual connection remained.
We moved houses, changed jobs, started new projects and changed email addresses a few times, but we always got back in touch after the dust had settled.
One time, my email to him bounced and I didn’t manage to find any of his current details on Google.
And I realized I had lost him.
Life went on, but I never quite forgot about my friend and wondered whether he had turned Buddhist, started a new company or unplugged from the web altogether.
I searched every once in a while, to no avail.
The Power of Social Media
One Saturday in April, I decided to give it a go on Twitter and sent out this tweet:
So I’m looking for a friend w/whom I lost contact. Ben [last name]* from [town]*, UK. Around 30yo, spiritual guy
* last name and town have been edited out for privacy reasons
The odds of me finding Ben with one single tweet , which nobody actually retweeted, were about one in a million.
And then I woke up the next morning, opened my inbox and saw his name. And I read this:
Esther : )
Seeing your tweet yesterday was the strangest experience. I spotted it while on duedil.com. I stared at it for the longest time, trying to work out what kind of automated trick they were using to create such a message. It was only when I clicked through to the twitter account that I noticed your name. It was fortunate timing — I don’t think I would have ever seen it otherwise.
Thanks for reaching out… it was a fun surprise : )
I don’t know how many more times our paths will cross, but I trust it to be just as many as needed.
But what’s even more important: social media aren’t tools that push us apart and promote individualism. They actually bring people together.
To me, Twitter has proven its value once again.
And if one single tweet can (re)connect us, I can only wonder how much more is possible.
Do you have a remarkable social media story of your own? Share your tale in the comments!