Twitter and the McSudleman Festivities

[Timothy B. Lee]


Tony is completely right that the wedding was beautiful, and it was clear that Megan and Peter make each other deliriously happy. I was seated on Megan's side of the room, so I had a good view of the huge grin that appeared on Peter's face when Megan made her entrance and stayed there throughout the ceremony. It was obvious Peter thought he was the luckiest man alive as Megan made her way to the altar.

But as Tony says, we're here to analyze and critique, not to dabble in gooey sentimentality. So I thought I'd mention another notable thing about the wedding: the promiscuous use of Twitter by the assembled guests. As you might expect at a marriage of two bloggers, we used Twitter for everything. Peter used it to announce that the deed was done. We used it to share blurry, realtime pictures with the world. And we used it for many more frivolous purposes, such as settling intra-table rivalries at the reception.

There's a school of thought that says this is tacky and even anti-social. On this view, people should be interacting in "real life" with the happy couple and each other, not ignoring each other as they stare at their cell phones. This isn't a view I share. For starters, no one was tweeting to the exclusion of face-to-face communication. One of the best things about Twitter is that it's extremely lightweight. You can read and write tweets in a few seconds, often during times (such as waiting in line for a drink) when you wouldn't be talking to anyone anyway. We did plenty of talking, dancing, eating, and drinking along with our tweeting.

Indeed, I think social media actually adds to the richness of a large social gathering like a wedding reception. Real-world interaction is sharply limited in time and space. I only got to sit with 9 other people, and I could only have a conversation with one person at a time. The #mcsudleman hashtag wasn't so limited. It allowed effortless communication with every (sufficiently nerdy) person who was interested in the wedding, whether there were 10 or 1000 such people. This creates a global conversation to supplement the many local ones. Tweets sometimes became real-life conversation topics.

Finally, Twitter enriched the experience in more pedestrian ways. It was used to organize the all-important afterparty. and it allowed those who weren't at the wedding to feel some measure of connection to it. They could follow along at home, look at the pictures, and offer their best wishes to the happy couple. That's not as good as being there, of course, but it's better than nothing.

Of course, this sort of thing isn't for everyone. This was a gathering of professional bloggers, so we admittedly took things to extremes. Some couples will prefer a more private affair and discourage online sharing. But in thise case the groom set the tone, the rest of us were simply following suit. And I think it's was a richer and more joyous gathering for it.

So congratulations to Megan and Peter. I'm looking forward to seeing them still gazing adoringly at each other decades from now.