Like Old Friends

When I got to work this morning, I ran into my boss in the parking lot. “Looks like you had a great hike on Saturday!” he said. “How was The Bite of Oregon?”

And I realized in that moment the extent to which social media has changed our lives. In the past, you wouldn’t know what your coworkers had been up to unless you asked them. How old-fashioned, right? But Jeff could have recited a step-by-step recap of my weekend because it was documented for posterity on Instagram (my platform of choice these days) and Facebook.

For that matter, he’s probably well aware of the fact that politically, I side 96% with Bernie Sanders. And that I liberally doused my Mexican street corn with Tajin.

There’s no mystery left these days, you know? We’re all open books. Good if you’re sharing photos of beautiful sunrises…

sunrise

Not so much if you’re talking about all the Bloody Marys you have consumed in a single sitting.

(It was three, okay? I’m not quite a lush).

What’s even weirder is when somebody you’re meeting in person for the first time ever knows every little detail of your life. This happened to me (again) yesterday. Last week, my friend Allison messaged me to let me know she was going to be in Portland and wondered if I’d like to meet up for lunch. “Sure!” I said. I’ve known Allison for more than 10 years. Only “known” is a relative term, because I’d never actually met her. Really though, that’s only a minor detail in the blogging era. I’ve mentioned before how many of my closest friends have come from the blogosphere. My own wife, even. So I jumped at the chance to meet Allison, who lives in New Orleans – so far away it might as well be another planet. A party-happy planet where you can walk down the street with booze in your hand at 2:30 in the afternoon, a/k/a my kind of town. I honestly never thought I’d have an opportunity to meet her.

But there she was, sitting across from me and Tara a mere 28 hours ago, and we were chatting it up like old friends. Which is exactly what we are. Allison was vacationing with her husband Ben, who was unaware of her blogging past, so she had to let him in on that little secret first. Otherwise, how would she explain traveling to a city she’d never been to, thousands of miles from home, to meet up with a guy she’s known practically forever? Believe me, I get it. All of it. I blogged for five years when I was married and never advertised that fact to my wife. Not that I was doing anything wrong or had things to hide; blogging was simply an outlet in which I could be myself without fear of recrimination. Open Diary was such a self-contained little community it can be hard to explain to outsiders, but those friendships have been both genuine and long-lasting. To his credit Ben took the news in stride, and he was very outgoing and friendly. Allison, of course, is awesome.

But I already knew that.

We had a great lunch at McMenamin’s Bagdad Theater, and should we ever find ourselves in N’awlins we’ll let them have a turn showing off their city.

AllisonThis brings the number of bloggers I’ve met in person now to 10, plus an additional three that Tara used to read. Not bad! I’m waiting for Wendy to make it 11.

I know many of my readers have also met up with people they got to know online first. What have your favorite experiences been? Anything bad ever happen?

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23 thoughts on “Like Old Friends

  1. I’ve met one blogging friend since I started. She’s been intrumental in getting my debut novel published. So, I’m one-for-one. She stayed with us when she was last in Portland on a book tour and you’re right, it was like we’d been friends for a long time.

    So, go to andrawatkins.com and wander through her books. Buy one. What the heck. Money well spent.

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  2. Some of my best friends I’ve met online first. I really need to get my ass back out to the PNW (I’ll be kinda close next month, will be in SF for work) so we can meet up. And hey, if you ever feel the need for a trip to New England, happy to show y’all around. :)

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  3. I met my first “blogging friend” last year, when I went to New Zealand. I’ve met several “social media only” friends (from the same online group) over the last few months, and am planning to get together wish a bunch of them this weekend. And I’m still hoping to get myself out to the Pacific Northwest, to meet you and Tara. :D
    Someday!

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    1. It never has been for me. I guess that’s because by the time we are close enough friends to even think about meeting up in person, we already know we’re going to be pretty compatible.

      Guess when I’m out in your neck of the woods I’ll just wave as I drive by on my way to Skyline Chili! ;)

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  4. I remember the first time I was at a party and began telling one of my go-to small talk anecdotes. One of the other guests, a casual acquaintance, replied along the lines of yeah, I read your post about that. Great story. I know how famous people must feel now.

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  5. “I’ve mentioned before how many of my closest friends have come from the blogosphere.”

    Yup, for me as well, Mark! And it’s just as you said in your post title…meeting up with a blogging friend who you’ve never actually met in person before, is like meeting an old friend.

    All of my experiences with meeting up with blogging friends have been very positive and comfortable. I can honestly say that I’ve never had a negative experience.

    Glad you were able to meet up with your friend Wendy!

    P.S. And I know that one of these days, you and I and Tara will meet up; whether it be on the west coast or east coast. Can’t wait!

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  6. It’s somewhat frightening how much people know about us through social media. People don’t answer our phone call but we can see they’re commenting on Facebook. An employee is supposed to be working but we can see he’s spent the last hour liking twenty posts on Instagram. My goal is to never give the impression that I’m meant to be doing anything responsible so nobody will care when they see I’ve been wasting time on social media.

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  7. I have to say I have met quite a few people through online platforms, but not one blogger :(. I have a few that are high on my list of people to meet but it just hasnt quite happened for me yet. Anyone have any MA trips planned? ;)

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    1. We would love to visit MA! In fact, one of the best weekends of my life was a solo weekend trip to Boston when I was fresh out of college. Man, I had a blast. And Tara was actually born there, so yeah – it’s on our list, for sure.

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    1. I know! We were like two ships passing in the night. Only neither boat had the slightest clue as to the other’s existence at the time. Oh well, should you and Joe find your way out here again, definitely hit us up. We’ll treat you to geoduck!

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