On Saturday I had a picnic with my friend Lindsay. I’ve know Linz for over 10 years, but this was our first picnic together…and the first time we ever saw each other face to face.
We were friends on the internet first. Message boards and chat rooms haven’t always been infested with trolls, and as I’ve written before I had a significant social presence online several years ago. I was the first person from that fallen iTurf civilization Linz had met; she was, excluding those who already lived in my town, my seventh. There have been plenty of encounters among all the others, and more yet to come.
Each and every time, it did not feel awkward. It cured the foreign-city feeling. Conversations were not hard to start, and many of them had already been started.
The difference between meeting someone from message boards and, say, meeting someone from Facebook is that Facebook is about the individual’s profile. You comment on THEIR timeline or THEIR status update, or alternatively they post on yours. Is that really a conversation? Is it really a group conversation? We’re groups of friends, and we started out that way. It’s much easier to bring on the pick-up-where-we-left-off type of socializing when we can reference what others said, to a collective instead of a person.
Not even high school reunions can bring that kind of experience…or so I gather. I don’t miss any lost-contact friends from high school, at least not any more than a post on their Facebook wall can cure.