The normalization of internet friends

It’s funny how something can go from extreme to mainstream in a few short years.

Take meeting people online.

2011: The Craigslist Killer came out, fictionalizing a tale from 2009 about … you know, a crazy person killing people he met on Craigslist.

Fast forward to 2018, and it’s totally normal to read someone’s blog, then say, “hey, we should meet up,” and meet and become friends, for real. Or if not best friends, then definitely business friends.

I was thinking of this the other day, when having a last lunch with another friend before we left town.

This friend, Kate Ahl, runs a thriving Pinterest management business. And we became friends a couple years ago when I wrote — evidently incorrectly — about a Pinterest algorithm change. There wasn’t an algorithm change, and Kate either commented on the post or sent me an email (I’m too lazy to figure out which) upset that I was writing Wrong Things on the internet. I wasn’t willing to delete the post, because it was bringing more traffic than that blog had ever seen, but I realized that she lived in Portland, and I asked if we could have lunch.

We met up, didn’t talk about the comment, but ate lunch and connected. She’s a real inspiration, and someone I’ve had lunch with a handful of times since. She’s not in the personal finance world, she runs a business with — get this — 35 employees, and we have great talks every single time we get together.

This is only my most recent example. ALL of the people I can call friends that I didn’t meet in college or in a past job or my sister’s friends are people I met online.

Let that sink in for a minute.

On the one hand, wow, what a dork!

But on the other, and I’d like to focus on the other, the internet can be a wonderful place.

As long as you remember that every blog you read is written by a person, you can make connections — real, lasting connections — with people you met on the internet.

There is great power in connecting in person, but who cares how you met the people you’re connecting with? I mean, heck, I met Brent online, so for me the stigma is long gone, but one thing that’s clear is that making friends from the internet is easy.

Take Amanda Holden. My friend Emma Pattee (another internet friend!) said we should get together, that we’d really like each other. So, I looked at her blog, read several posts, and told myself I’d make her be my friend.

Which is of course, not at all awkward.

But Emma and Amanda and I met up for coffee, and talked for three or four hours straight.

It was great.

And yes, now that I’m leaving, I’m making these relationships more difficult to maintain.

So now, instead of getting together for coffee or drinks or dinner or whatever, we’ll level up the dorkiness factor and video conference.

We make ourselves feel less dorky (but by no means cool) by calling it a “mastermind call” and meeting once a week to talk shop. Chenell is part of the mastermind, too, and we’re helping advance each other’s businesses week by week.

It’s partly internet water cooler talk, but much more about strategy.

Which is wonderful, and highly recommended.

It keeps me from trying to force my IRL friends into pretending to care about … marketing. Although unfortunately for him, Brent is not excluded from my chatter. He tunes me out, though.

So, really, if all that comes from #the100dayproject is more people reaching out asking if I want to meet up for coffee, I’ll be thrilled beyond measure. Because that’s the piece of blogging that I miss more than anything.

I don’t even have the least bit of anxiety about those meetings anymore.

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