It would be quite a strange world to live in!
You would wake up and make your way downstairs, conscious (and a bit creeped out) that some people had stopped by to stare at you for a while during the night. As you sat down to breakfast with your family you would find friends of your friends (that you had never met) joining in your morning conversation, adding their (perhaps unwanted) views and even inviting their friends to come and chat to you over the breakfast table. One of your friends would ring up and tell you a joke before shouting LOL and hanging up.
As you left your house, you would notice some new faces in the crowd that normally follows you around, some of them would introduce themselves, awkward introductions that mostly covered what they did for a living, and requests to follow them during the working day instead of just in your free time. On your walk to the bus stop some of these followers would drift off, never to be seen again, or offer to go out and find more people to follow you - as long as you gave them some money first. Every now and then someone would run up to you, shout loudly about something they wanted you to buy, and then run off just as quickly.
On the bus a man from a faraway country would sit down next to you, telling you a strange story of how he had become very wealthy and would like to would like to give you a lot of money, before asking for your bank account details and secret password. A little later in the journey another stranger would tell you that you weren’t satisfying your wife – but that he could provide a range of pills and other products to help you in the bedroom. As your bus journey neared its end, a range of products that you had looked at in the shops at the weekend would be paraded in front of you on a carousel and a man with a clipboard would gently suggest that because you recently bought a new bike, you might like to buy another new bike – just in case.
Several times during the day, people would run up to you holding a cat and then insist that you watched whilst the cat squeezed itself into a goldfish bowl. At other times, sales reps from companies you had never heard of would run up and start telling you their views on various things. Prefacing each conversation with “Well we know you once looked at X, so we thought we would thrust Y in your face. Every 20 minutes or so someone would prod you and let you know that a joke you told yesterday had been told to someone else.
You would arrive at work to the sound of colleagues shouting random opinions at no-one in particular, and as you settled down at your desk, a queue of people would slowly form in front of you: a man wanting to ask you some questions about your recent visit to his conference; several people who had found your job title somewhere and wanted to tell you more about what they did. Later on you would be stared at for a few minutes by a man in a balaclava and a T-Shirt printed with “I work at XYZ Co”, then another stranger would offer to tell you who the man in the balaclava was in return for a monthly subscription.
Some of the random opinions of strangers might catch your interest, leading you to move a little closer so that you could listen to everything they had to say - thereafter they would pop up every few days with fresh opinions for your enjoyment.
Throughout the day, more total strangers would walk up and ask to connect with you (without giving any reason), if you said yes, they would launch into a detailed description of their product or service – leaving you to deeply regret talking to them in the first place. People you worked with 20 years ago would occasionally poke their head round your office door, silently staring at you for a few moments before disappearing. All the while your army of followers would remain with you, shouting “here here” every time you said something interesting and promising to repeat what you said to all their friends and followers.
A bizarre and quite scary world indeed. If I have a point other than enjoying the comparison, it’s that we should try to apply real world principals to our online behaviour, be polite, don’t try to sell things to everyone you meet, get to know people and always remember that there is a real person behind the twitter handle!