About 80 Twitter users attended the January Tweetup at the Hunt & Alpine Club in Portland on Thursday night, putting faces to Twitter handles.

“It’s an interesting way to bring digital communities to a more personal venue. You can meet people you’ve interacted with on Twitter in real life,” said Corissa Poley, who tweets about 15 times a day. “It’s helped me to build some great connections here in Portland.”

“Twitter is where a lot of the most creative people in town hang out,” said event organizer Rich Brooks of Flyte New Media. “Twitter is like speed dating for creatives. Everyone’s on Facebook. Not everyone is on Twitter, so they’re more attracted to each other.”

Keith Luke traveled from Augusta for the first monthly Tweetup of the year. “It’s a great way to connect with a wide variety of movers and shakers in the Portland business community and social community,” he said.

While Tweetups are losing popularity in other parts of the country, they aren’t in Portland where there is such a vibrant Twitter community, Brooks said. “And this time of year, everyone wants to get out,” he added.

“After today I feel like I finally understand Twitter now that it’s mixed with cocktails,” said Liv Tansley, an event planner from Portland. She said that she has always carefully crafted her tweets, but three tweets and one and a half cocktails into the evening she understands that Twitter is all about being conversational, much like you are at a cocktail party.

Rebecca Hosely, a “tennis tweeter” or Portland, tweets with other tennis fans rather than clogging up her Facebook feed with tennis stuff.

Maureen Pease of Windham finds other local Twitter followers interested in food, hunting, and fishing.

Jane Driscoll, senior vice president for advancement for Goodwill, finds plenty about public policy and sustainability.

And Chris Byrne of South Portland follows people with a common interest in hiking. “There are 200 conversations all about things I’m interested in – all going on at once,” Byrne said.

Jennifer Ecker of Portland was going straight from the Tweetup to another Twitter-related event. “I’m going to a book club tonight with people I met on Twitter,” she said.

“I’ve met a lot of people I consider friends now through Twitter,” said Portland resident John Olore, adding that he’s had some personal setbacks the past couple of months. “The response I’ve been getting from the Twitter community has been phenomenal.” Through Facebook, Olore connects with people from his past. “But the interaction I have on Twitter are very much in the present,” he said. “It’s my first source for information and news.”

“Twitter delivers news faster than any other outlet,” said Stephanie Monty of Standish, citing the death of Osama bin Laden as an example. Others cited the example of the Boston Marathon bombings.

“It’s a very quick town crier,” said Katherine Hery of Wells.

Portland resident Nathan O’Leary had the night’s best example of the speed of Twitter. Back in 2012, he had his tweet deck open and saw his stream light up with earthquake tweets from people in Washington, D.C., then New York, then Boston. Within seconds, he actually felt the earthquake in Maine. “I saw it moving virtually on Twitter before I felt it in real life,” O’Leary said. “Twitter moves faster than an earthquake.”

To meet up at the next monthly Tweetup, follow @mainetweetup on Twitter.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer from Scarborough. She can be reached at:

amyedits@aol.com

Twitter: @amyparadysz