“Facebook makes you hate people you know, Twitter makes you like people you’ve never met”
- Author Unknown
In the last week, the SEO world in the UK & around the world has been shocked by the tragic & untimely passing of Jaamit Durrani. I wanted to share a few thoughts on him.
I only met the guy once, at Think Visibility, but his impact on me was huge.
June 2009. Although I was in a stable job, I wasn’t where I wanted to be geographically. I was a little bored with living in North Wales, tensions between myself & mum & dad were straining (justifiably – I was a knob), and many of my friends moved away from the area. I wasn’t sure what I wanted from life, and had a stupid idea that this blog was going to make me a gazillionaire – discussions in my local was surrounding making millions, but not entirely sure how. Nevertheless, I ramped up blogging. Lyndon Antcliff – one person I was following on twitter – came up with a bunch of ideas for linkbait. One of which was “1 Cristiano Ronaldo, or PR6 links?”. I got scribbling, asked him for a retweet, and he duely obliged.
Amongst the retweets was Jaamit. Unlike many of the other retweeters though, I kept speaking to him. Over time, and through him, I got to meet many people associated with SEO virtually on Twitter. Amongst them was the guys & girls associated with #mancseo. I January I attended my first one, decided that in terms of my career I needed to move to Manchester, two months later getting a job & then the rest – as they say – is history.
I’m a firm believer in causality – I do think rather a lot about what if’s & whether if Jaamit retweet (and subsequent discussion) that tweet of mine I wouldn’t be end up living in Manchester. I’m unsure (I was familiar with individuals in SEO at that point). However, what I am sure about is that in the year & a bit I spoke to Jaamit (both online & in person), I found him a lot of fun.
Two stories online stand out for me. One night I was having trouble sleeping, so like a good little social media bunny I tweeted such a fact. Jaamit (who was awake at the time), tweeted back “I’d recommend you count sheep, but being a Welshman you’d probably get the wrong idea. ;)”. Next morning I woke up, checked Twitter again & found 3 Direct Messages from Jaamit saying he was sorry if I offended him. I told him he didn’t, I just fell asleep.
Since then, it was fair game to rip the piss out of each other.
The second story was on the morning of Think Visibility, during Mel’s talk. For those of you who weren’t there or who didn’t read the twitter feed, the room that was unmentionably hot. Like a good little social media bunny I tweeted this, saying the room was “hot & sweaty”. The first tweet back was from Jaamit saying “I know! I can smell you from here!”.
When I finally met him (later that day, to which I greeted him with “Can you smell me now Jaamit?”), I was greeted with a guy who was fun, smiling & joking – the Jaamit I grew to know on Twitter. Like so many people have said – the Jaamit that we knew online was pretty much the same we knew offline. I enjoyed his Link Building Presentation at Think Visibility, and we (and a few others) shared dinner after the event, which was good fun. He thought me & Carly were going out. A fact that I mercessily ripped the piss out of him for. Ironically getting to know him in that time I learnt more about his approach to SEO than I did from speaking to him on Twitter for a year and a bit – as so often the case in this industry.
So it was with a heavy heart that I heard the news on Friday, I was in total disbelief. I can’t pretend I knew him well, but feel terrible for those who knew him a lot better (people such as Rishi, Richard, Annabel, Amrit & Claire amongst others), and couldn’t begin to comprehend what is wife is going through.
Wonderfully, the much criticised SEO community (a criticism I disagree with) has rallied around & a lot has been put in force – you can read about what’s been done for Jaamit in this blog post.
All I can say in closing is RIP Jaamit, wish I had chance to get to know you better.