I’m to the point of owning it now. I just straight up admit that I have an unusual hobby—I like to travel around to meet online friends in person. There. It’s who I am. But recently, I’ve been doing it backwards. I’ve been meeting people in real life and then taking it online.
What? But isn’t that what everyone does, Susie? This is different. I’m meeting people at large public events, not at work or in my neighborhood. And since our encounter is relatively brief, we continue talking online. The foundation has already been laid, so it’s easy to slip into an online relationship. We’re starting with a common interest—the event itself.
Back in May, I attended a political fundraiser and in order to get a good spot in line, arrived an hour before the event. That meant there was plenty of time to talk to my fellow line-mates. My eye caught a cute handmade sign a few people down from me and I went to get a better look. I asked the woman if I could take a photo and then asked, “Are you on Twitter?” I wanted to post it on Twitter and tag her.
With phone in hand, I immediately found Kelly’s account and posted the pic on Twitter, crediting her. Throughout this process, I discovered that the woman standing next to Kelly was one of those mystery accounts on Twitter. Now that I knew it was Katie, the mystery was solved, and we could tweet back and forth.
I’m a friendly sort of extrovert, and usually that’s enough reason to exchange Twitter handles with people I’ve just met. But since this was a political event, the additional motivation was to connect with others for future events. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I didn’t know I was going to eventually make two new friends.
One day, Katie invited me to join her and Kelly at their house for a Town Hall watch party. I was flattered. How thoughtful of her to think of me! I showed up at the party with a big pot of chili that Katie needed to help me carry. A food offering always helps to break the ice, and perhaps that’s why we hit it off, but we probably would have anyway. As I sat next to Kelly on the sofa to watch the Town Hall, I remember feeling so at ease. We’d scrunched together for a group photo and I noticed that I never bothered to move over afterwards. I hoped she didn’t mind.
Katie and Kelly invited everyone over to watch the next Town Hall as well, and this time we ordered pizza. By the time I saw Katie and Kelly again last weekend at a volunteer planning event, I felt like we were already old friends. That’s because every day in between, we’d been talking to each other on Twitter.
Imagine if I had met Katie and Kelly at the fundraising event and not exchanged Twitter accounts. That’s where it would have ended. Sure, our paths might have crossed at other events, but we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to continue the discussion, to continue the relationship. We took a chance meeting and nurtured it online.