Meet my friends: not in real life

Greetings! Welcome to all my new followers and those who have numbers in their gravatars. I’m never sure if that indicates the year you were born, if you are the 28th Jennifer to sign up for WordPress, or if you are just a lawn-mowing robot. Not that it much matters: we’re all friends now.

This weekend my husband and I went for a run. We came across a few other runners  – actually a group – that I knew and recognized. We’d belonged to the same run club, ran a few workouts together, and were friends on Facebook.  They were on a training run for their first marathon.  It has taken a lot of their time and dedication, it’s more expensive than they thought it would be, and they are amazed that they can still keep going and doing the distances. I know all of this because we are friends on Facebook.

As we approached them I mentioned their names to my husband. I said this within earshot, but not directly at them. “Hey, that’s Paul and Steve,” I said.  As they got closer I got excited for them: they had run for about 1.5 hours by then and anything to distract you is motivating.

“Great job guys. You look awesome. Keep it up.” I said.

They looked at me, nodding. “Hello.” They had no idea who I was.

Same with the second pair of guys.

Finally there was a girl who I’ve talked to more often. I said her name, we exchanged “good job” encouragement, and did the high-five-you’re-a-runner as we passed each other.  She knew who I was.

They are probably best friends since they were...

I never knew your eyes were so blue in person. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently when I added someone to my FB friends, I was prompted to answer whether I knew the person in real life. (What’s real life? I thought to myself). I decided that since FB is trying to creep up and get all sorts of information these days I’d just vote-split my answer and lie. Take that, Statistics! But it got me thinking — I have a lot of friends on Facebook I’ve never met in real life, aka: in person. I don’t think this matters — we have exchanges based on what we feel comfortable posting, or what we feel like sharing. We want to know more about each other and be “in the loop” with each other. I was dumped on Facebook so I know what it’s like to also be shut out of someone’s life.

But then I also need to realize that if I do see these people in person, they won’t know who I am.

English: Lost connections

“Hello? I’m calling from tower 3C. Are you the girl with the red hair and glasses or the girl who always rides a bike?” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s a funny idea that Facebook could essentially connect a world of people, but if you put them in a room together they would be strangers to one another. Sure, they could talk about what they’d posted or funny videos or good restaurants and blog ideas, but it’s a different way of relating when you do so in person.  I remember my brother once saying that he spoke to a vendor at least one a week on the phone and they had long animated talks. More and more of their personalities started to blend in to the conversation once business was done. Then when the client came to town and they went out for dinner, it was like a bad first date. He said they just stared at each other awkwardly and weren’t sure what to talk about.

You blend differently in person. There is nothing wrong with that.

Lately I’ve had a flurry of new subscribers. I’d like to thank you all for coming along on my journey, but I want to know more about you. Tell me something about yourself in the comments. You don’t have to be afraid, we’ll probably never meet in person.


Follow me on Facebook. Pretty please?


32 thoughts on “Meet my friends: not in real life

  1. That’s most of social media, though isn’t it? It puts people of similar mindset or with similar interests in touch, and lets us see sides of life we might not experience otherwise.

    Congrats on the follower uptick!

    • We *do* see sides of life we might not otherwise if we had these same friends in person. Naturally we gravitate to those of similar ilk and interests, but given the assumed anonymity online we get to have different experiences as well.


  2. Good Morning, it’s me, digital as ever. This virtual existence has yielded a few in real life relationships. I’m all traveled out this year, but maybe someday I will make it to Canada for a cup of coffee. You’ll know me when you see me, I’m the vertically challenged woman taking pictures and mumbling to herself.

    • I like hearing about those who have crossed the digital divide and met in person. You get a few more pieces to complete your friendship puzzle.
      Do come for coffee! I’m also vertically challenged and appreciate a good mumbler.

      Digitally yours,

  3. Fun fact about me, because you asked: I recently jumped ship completely on my personal fb account. I am now much happier and healthier because of it. But if the page I maintain for A Canvas Of The Minds hasn’t liked your page I will promptly remedy that situation. 😉

    Oh, also, I never watch television (seriously) but I watch zillions of classic films.

    • Also, I’m crap at commenting on my phone. I wrote something lovely about the upsides and downsides to having “bridged the digital gap” by meeting bloggers in real life, but it was eaten. Blah.

      • LOL! In addition to that, for some reason, with WordPress, it likes to post comments when I’m only halfway through writing them!

        I’m so happy we’ve actually “talked” a little here (I’m a fine one for reading but not leaving words).

    • Hi Ruby,

      I like your site. I haven’t been able to dump my FB account, but I don’t skim gossip sights as often. I can tell when I’ve been into the smut, bad news, etc when I start to feel draggy and down.
      I PVR everything from TV so I’m always months behind by the time I get around to actually watching it.

      • Thank you so much for your kind words about the site!

        I think you’re very smart in being able to judge how much fb is healthy for you. I actually deactivated my account one day, intending it just to be a break, but it went on and on and I found myself wanting less and less to reactivate it, so I guess I found out how much was healthy for me that way.

        As for TV, okay, I do watch Turner Classic Movies and hockey (weird combination, I know), but I haven’t watched a new television show since iCarly went off the air (to complete the oddness trinity). But it sounds like you have good balance with that, too – you don’t really rate it so high it consumes you.

        I need to take lessons from you. I’m notoriously bad with balance and moderation!

  4. Digitally yours….Ha. I love that one. I’m forever digitally yours. Social media is definitely strange, T. That’s a funny story about your running friends and your husband. I could see something like happening to me very easily. I hope you get to meet your new followers. I have similar strange new ones, who are really quiet. I hope you get to meet them someday, if only digitally.

    Digitally yours,

    • Dear REAL A,
      I think this social media faux pas happens more often than not. We are either unaware of it, and or just pretend it didn’t happen.
      I have a lot of really quiet followers too. Maybe they are the same ones and are secretly friends in real life!!

      Digitally in ethers,

  5. “It’s a funny idea that Facebook could essentially connect a world of people, but if you put them in a room together they would be strangers to one another.”–That is really true, isn’t it? Same goes for blogging I expect. We present certain aspects of ourselves online but probably don’t show all our sides. We don’t show all our sides in public either, but in public situations, our body language can speak volumes, something that’s absent in social media.

    • I think that’s it — social media enables us to present less of what we don’t want others to see. It’s a nice package, but it’s not quite the whole package. Sometimes language — words — can be really limiting as a means of communication.
      I *think* I’ve understood what you’re trying to say….

  6. Pingback: Are Facebook Comments just Wasted Keystrokes? | Madeline Scribes

  7. Hey there! I believe I started following you after a runchat thingy on Twitter, I could be mistaken. But I love to run about runners and their ups and downs. it motivates me (even though I am currently not running). I experienced a similar thing with someone I talked on the phone with for months for work, and once they came into the office, it was just odd. Funny how that happens. I think something about not being face to face allows a person to open up just a tad bit more than in person. Anyway, love your blog!

    • Hi CJ,
      I’m not sure if that was me on Twitter, but I’m glad you’re here. I always like to see a slice of someone else’s life, even if I don’t partake in what they are doing.
      I think we get comfortable with our safety of a certain kind of communication. Then, when we add more factors (such as nonverbal communication, or physical appearances), we are always processing more information, and sometimes reassessing. Thanks for the cheery comments.

  8. I write fiction, film and tv inspired by real life. Blogging in my own voice and on FB, I don’t feel as free and struggle with how much to reveal or not. I appreciate the bridge you offer between the real and virtual world in this post!

    • So when your audience is unknown you feel more comfortable being “real”? I get that. Sometimes we’ll tell perfect strangers our most intimate secrets that we almost won’t admit to ourselves. I think we invest less in their reactions and don’t take anything so personally. If only I could be more like that in my own relationships…

  9. This has been the year of the Spambot follower on my site, Tania. If I could, I would not accept any of their follows. I have a Facebook account that I essentially treat with the same degree of contempt I’d have for a plantar wart. I have never gotten into FB, and I have no interest in being cyber-friends with hundreds of people I have no connection to whatsoever. I value my time and I don’t invest it in just anyone to pad someone’s personal popularity contest. A guy I work with, who is a classic schlemiel, brags about having thousands of FB friends, but in real life he barely knows ten people, and probably half of those hate his guts. At least through one’s blog, the exchange of posts and commenting, you can develop a feel for someone, but I suppose the same can be said of FB. I’ve never put much effort into that site and I see it as the Walmart of social media. At this stage, I have met close to a dozen fellow bloggers from all over the world. In spring, a blogger couple that decided to marry at City Hall in NYC asked me to serve as a witness. That was a blast. New York City is a popular tourist destination, so when bloggers I follow visit the Apple, they often contact me about it. I’ve been lucky because everyone I’ve met in real life has been wonderful.

    • You are so right. Are you wearing sensible shoes as well? You speak from their sole.
      Next time we are in the Apple we’ll definitely have to have coffee. Hopefully I won’t skew your statistics to-date!
      PS I remember the post you did about being part of the bloggers wedding. That was fab!

  10. I have this “friend” that I just know on Instagram, we live in the same city, been to same races, probably bump to each other but never really got the chance to meet and talk but we talk a lot on Instagram. I guess some people are good at expressing themselves through social media but not in person.

    • Hi Ja,
      GOod point –I think this happens with some people. We have a ‘way’ we communicate and it never really grows beyond that. Like with some people I only have running in common. If we are not in the same running circles, or races, or events, we don’t really see each other or keep in touch.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  11. You’ve stuck a chord with me here. There are a lot of people I’ve met online, especially through parenting groups on Facebook, and it can be really awkward to talk in person. It’s almost like we know too much about each other without having the emotional bonding that takes place in real life. I feel more connected and yet more isolated than ever. It’s weird.

    • Hi Kylie,
      I think what you’ve said is really the heart of it. We are physically socially isolating, yet virtually emotionally connected. We can tend to share too much online. I totally think there is a place for that, but we have to remember that who we are online is who we are in person. Or try to be.

      • Absolutely!
        This week I’ve spent time with three different moms I’ve met online and I’m happy to report that I really like each of them!! And that I feel so lucky to have found people I can spend time with in real life thanks to the internet.

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