When I first joined Facebook, I made a brightline rule: I would not be virtual friends with anyone whom I had not actually met at least once in reality. The concept of having 1,000 friends, 700 of whom I could not pick out of a line-up, was not my thing.
It was my rule, and it worked well.
And then I bent it.
The first crease came in the form of a Friend Request I sent to a friend's wife, a gorgeous personality I'd never actually met but whom I felt I knew through her husband's posts and her corresponding comments. After a lengthy exchange about Jon Bon Jovi, I thought, "She is my kind of people," and I friended her. I still haven't actually "met" her. But that doesn't stop me from calling Dana my friend.
Several months later, I signed up for a writing workshop in Michigan. The facilitator introduced the attendees via Facebook and email. A few of us were looking to share rooms and started chatting, and I made my next "never-ever-met-her" FB friend, a great writer named Dana (Dana II!). Within days, another: Tracey. And then, finally, Laura.
That rule? Completely broken.
We started messaging, sometimes in pairs, sometimes as a foursome, always as writers who just happened to be on the path to becoming friends. Real friends.
Tracey and I share the luck of living in Chicago, so we met up for lunch and I liked her even more in 3-D. She's off my "never-met" list and has eased over into my "friend in reality" group.
This week, I'll have the pleasure of meeting Dana and Laura. But I won't feel like I'm meeting strangers, because I won't be. I'll be meeting up with old friends -- friends whom I had not yet happened to meet in person . . . until now.
A few more never-met friends have joined my list of FB friends, all friends of other friends, all of whom I hope to meet in person some day. But if I don't? Well, that's ok, too.