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Friends I’ve Never Met

Tonight, I’m going to get into a car with three people I’ve never met and drive to Wisconsin.

10 years ago…heck, 5 years ago, this would have been a ludicrous statement. It would have raised all sorts of questions, especially from my Mom.

“You’re getting in a car with WHO?”
“What do you mean you’ve never met them before?”
“You’re just going to drive to Lord-knows-where with a bunch of strangers? Are you nuts?”

Of course, the people I’m driving with are not strangers. I know them from the Internet. That in itself may seem a little nuts to some…but not me. I live online. Sure, I have friends that I see every day, in person. I DO spend a lot of time with people in the offline world. But I have a LOT of online friends too. Some I’ve had the joy of meeting in person. Others I haven’t yet, but I will be soon. Still others, I may never meet in person.

But that doesn’t make them any less my friends.

This is a new era.

When the telephone was invented, most people didn’t use it. They didn’t see the point of “calling” someone, to only hear their voice on the other end. It was far more effective to be in someone’s presence. One couldn’t possibly maintain a relationship (personal or professional) with someone only via telephone. The in-person was critical.

Nowadays, of course, we couldn’t live without telephones. The telephone connected our world. Families traveled more. Businesses expanded their reach. It was the dawn of a new era of communication.

The Web has created an entirely new era, and there are some key differences between how the Web connects us and how the telephone does. The first is the Web’s randomness (or serendipity, as I prefer to call it). In the olden days, you wouldn’t just pick up the phone and start dialing random numbers and striking up conversations with people. But on Twitter, that’s exactly what we do.

The randomness of online social tools allows us to link up with people we would otherwise never have met. I mean, before the social Web, it would have been unlikely that this Canadian TV producing girl would have ever had the chance to meet and become good friends with a pastor from Indiana, right?

The second thing about the Web that makes it different from other forms of communication is that it leaps us forward quickly. We become closer friends faster, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, we get the small talk out of the way, in many cases 140 characters at a time, so when we finally meet in person, we are already past the “getting to know you” phase. We are no longer just acquaintances…we’re friends. Secondly, we get to know each other a lot better in the online world. If I read your blog and follow your tweets regularly, I will get a really good sense of who you are; the things you care about, how you interact with others, and others’ impressions of you, too. These things go a long way to help me get a sense what you’re all about, so when we meet, we already have a rapport and a dynamic.

This evening, I look forward to good food, lots of laughter, and friendly faces, as I travel the road with friends I’ve never met.

10 Comments

  1. Great article Suze, were indeed would we have met if not using the Interwebs?

  2. too bad you don’t offer spelling help too. “Where” indeed…

  3. I get it and wouldn’t hesitate to get in a car with you and some of our online friends as well. Sounds like a great trip is in store!

  4. Reminds me of trip up to British Columbia while visiting near Seattle. We went to have breakfast with Jeff Pulver and a bunch of locals. None of these we had met in person.

  5. Hi Suze, I’ve been reading your blog for a few weeks and decided that now is the time to jump in and comment! I’m always saying things like “My Twitter friend so-and-so said this today” or “I met an interesting person on my blog” to my family, and most of them just don’t get it. Yes, online connections can be the same as in-person connections. I’d go for the drive too!

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  7. Spot on Suze! 5 years ago I was one of ‘them’ like your mom that would have say “Your gonna where with who?? Are you insane?!” LOL, now I’m one of ‘you’! Amazing how quickly things change. Loved the post!

  8. it’s interesting what you say about how we might know one another more or better, more deeply by “following” and it’s such a respectful expression that connotes a level of humility and disclosure… each time I share something of truth on my blog it costs me and frees me a little and friends who don’t speak internet worry for me cause they don’t understand this new brave new world we are creating that we are each co creating
    and “friends” becomes intimate in a way that you so or rather show we can go driving together and sometimes I can’t even get to that with my very own sister.

    merci

  9. Pingback: Random Thoughts About Relationships | SuzeMuse - Personal blog of Susan Murphy - spirit, productivity, social media, video, education

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