It didn’t take long for the friends who lived in my pocket to become my real friends. Twitter made that easier.
Even before moving to Pittsburgh four years ago, I started following some Pittsburgh people as preparation. Food people, networking people, journalism people, academic people, neighborhood people.
I was going to be writing freelance, so finding people was critical to my livelihood and my sanity. They were welcoming and smart and curious and it didn’t take long to start meeting them in person. They wanted to be smarter about their city and more connected within it. Twitter made that easier.
This week, Twitter made it possible for the first time to search every tweet going back to the first one on March 21, 2006. I decided to take a look at how Pittsburgh began revealing itself, its idiosyncrasies, on what was then a very new platform.
My search idea was simple: the first mention of Pittsburghese words and Pittsburgh people in their proper context.
The word “Pittsburgh” first appeared Oct. 24, 2006. Fittingly, it was for networking. A guy in a web series called “Something To Be Desired” was looking for “cool bands” to be on the show.
Thanks for the invite, Brogan. Currently looking for some cool Pittsburgh bands for STBD.— Erik Schark (@erikschark) October 24, 2006
The word “Steelers” appeared precisely a month earlier.
Watching a close Bengals-Steelers football game— Daniel Johnson, Jr. (@danieljohnsonjr) September 24, 2006
“N’at” and “yinz” beat “Primanti” to Twitter, which beat “yinzer.”
omigod the snow. the ice. the sleet banging on the windows. The mayor says "don't travel until, like, wednesday, 'n' at!"— moose j finklestein (@mizmoose) February 13, 2007
@BK where yinz goin?— Luke Ferdinand (@LJ) March 17, 2007
"Slippy" beat all of those.
Oops....Brian Oberkirch...slippy fingers— Tara Hunt (@missrogue) January 4, 2007
“Jagoff” came later but beat “Primanti’s.”
Who's the jagoff that stole David Byrne's bike?— Jeffrey Thames (@kingofgrief) April 22, 2007
“Gumband” beat “nebby” by a few months in 2008. “Nebby” somehow didn’t make an appearance until that July — in a tweet about cats, because this is the Internet — which seems odd given that four months or so earlier Twitter folks were already nebbing on Rick Sebak.
Just saw local documentarian Rick Sebak at Yum Wok.— Pat Lewis (@patlewis) March 31, 2008
Not that Pittsburgh wasn’t voyeuristic about other people before that.
Just saw Mayor Ravenstahl. LOVE the suede.— Mike Woycheck (@woy) April 5, 2007
It seems a little funny now, with Bill Peduto being the established mayor of both Pittsburgh and its internets, but the first tweet mentioning him was about him dropping out of an election.
@CarmanAvenue: Hmm... Now that Peduto's dropped out, should I run against Ravenstahl as an independent? (Do they do credit checks for that?)— Justin Kownacki (@JustinKownacki) May 1, 2007
But this is what’s cool about Pittsburgh. The tweeters of those first tweets about Peduto and Ravenstahl — they know each other. They’re friends. Mr. Ravenstahl Tweet was one of the first people I met when I moved here. I’ve met the woman who first used “n’at” in a tweet. The first person to mention “jaggerbush” -- the South Side bar in this case, not the semi-aggressive flora, but that’s still pretty Pittsburghy -- is a friend.
going to jaggerbush for a little while.— Perry Rajnovic (@psylum) December 20, 2007
And it was a way for people to reconnect, with those words reaching them wherever they went, even if it was a grudging fondness.
oh pittsburgh..."a long list of his community initiatives, including doubling the city's "redd-up" crew" | http://post-gazette.com/— Jack. (@Jack_Beitz) October 10, 2007
I read a lot about Pittsburgh before I moved here that suggested it was a closed society, hard to break into for new people. Cold, suspicious.
Not at all. I found quickly that if I accepted the premise that Pittsburgh could be cool, could be fascinating, people were warmer than family. What they were tired of, protecting themselves from, was uninformed or misinformed perception of what Pittsburgh was and what Pittsburgh was trying to become. Don’t talk if you don’t know. That kind of thing.
Twitter came along at a perfect time for Pittsburgh — collectively, piece by piece, word by word, the city wanted to share itself with the world.
is it weird that I keep an extra pair of gutchies around in case of an emergency? ;)— Goddess (@DelrayDiva) June 15, 2007