This week, Merryland Girl chose the topic. She wrote: Friend matchmaking: Tell us about a time you were “set up” for a friendship with someone. Or a time you matched two friends together. (Or both.) Please keep it to “in person” friendships only since it’s way too easy to connect people online these days.
After a thorough mental inventory of my friends, I could not think of two people I “set up” for friendship. (I wondered why that is . . . but only briefly.) I can only think of one person with whom I was “set up” and met and with whom I continued a relationship. Except he really isn’t a friend, he’s my ex-husband. And we no longer really have a relationship. And I don’t really feel like talking about it.
So, instead, I’m going to cheat a bit and recycle and update a post I wrote last June, before I was invited to join this group. (Funny enough, Froggie (Tracey) was featured in the old post!) Here’s my take:
When I first joined Facebook, I made a bright line 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. I refused to be a FB friend whore.
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.
Back then, Tracey and I shared the luck of geography, as we both lived in Chicago, so we met up for lunch, and I liked her even more in 3-D. She moved off my “never-met” list and eased over into my “friend in reality” group. She’s come to be a good friend, and I am forever grateful for her invitation to join this blog group and for my introduction to the other bloggers, Melissa (Merryland Girl) and Sara (Moma Rock). I’ve never met Melissa or Sara – hell, we’ve never even spoken on the phone – and yet I feel I know them as well as – if not better than – some of the friends I often see in person. I am proud to call them friends. The fact we haven’t met just seems immaterial.
And when we do meet (and we will), I know I won’t feel like I'm meeting strangers, because I won’t be. I’ll be meeting up with old friends – friends I just hadn’t yet met in person. That’s what happened when I ultimately met Dana II and Laura last summer in Saugatuck, when we shared meals and jokes and stories and our manuscripts and then – now – memories. (Interesting aside: my move to Tennessee moved me away from Tracey (and Dana I), but within driving distance of Dana II. It was so nice to know I had a friend waiting for me in my new home state!)
I do offer one caveat, however. I’ve found that my bright line rule is an absolute necessity when it comes to male friends. For some reason, when I’ve broken my rule with a male, bad things have happened. Remember Pie Guy? He was the first male exception, and he was a fruit-filled Facebook fail. And then there was a guy I like to call “The Creeper.” He and I went to the same grammar school (though not at the same time, as he was several years older) and he friended me last year when our shared alma mater sat on the Archdiocese of Chicago’s school chopping block. Within days of our virtual friendship, he started trolling my female friends – totally uncool and extremely creepy. After the third creeped-out female friend mentioned his behavior, I unfriended him, and when he tried to blame his behavior on alcohol, I blocked him.
So, yeah, boys, you and your gender have earned yourselves some disparate treatment!
In the year or so since I first wrote my post, several more never-met friends have joined my list of FB friends. They are all friends of other friends. Would I like to meet them in person some day? Sure, why not? But if I don’t? Well, that’s ok, too.
Unless they are male.