I feel I should start out by explaining that the title of this post is not about jamming your old chap into a USB drive but is instead about making friends over the Interwebz.
I feel I am now an expert at such things because last night I met up with someone I met on the line.
Woah Paul, you can’t fucking do that. What if she turned out to be a he?
Well, fictional pariah of my decision making skills you will be surprised to know that he was a man to begin with and I was entirely aware of this fact.
There seems to be a massive taboo around the idea of meeting up with people you know solely on the Internet and this is probably down to the fact that it is an excellent grooming tool for sex offenders. I say excellent because it probably is for them, the anonymity afforded by the Internet can make it a dangerous place. It’s something that every child should be taught about the dangers of. That’s why I made sure we met somewhere public, I told an adult where I was going to be and I took my old switchblade Stabby along just in case things got a bit hairy.
Before my tale is whisked off on a cloud of guy love however I would like to begin with how I met my mystery man. I haven’t discussed writing this blog post with him so I will just call him G for the time being, which is short from Graham.
G and I met through a girl in Ohio.
How could that possibly be the case Paul? You’ve never even been outside of Europe
That’s where you’re incorrect fictional usurper of my mind, for you see I have been out of Europe, I went to Africa, I walked the Sahara. I raised a lot of money for charity. I don’t like to talk about it. You’re however correct in your assessment that I have not been to Ohio. I’m not entirely sure where it is, somewhere out West? Is it near Denver? I’ve heard of Denver (Thanks Kerouac).
G and I met via a girl in Ohio through a social networking website. We were introduced by her as she twigged that we were both handsome, funny and British and would probably have a fair amount in common. As it turned out she was right and he is also originally from Essex. G and I got along like a house on fire(wire). Little tech joke there for you.
We decided that as we both worked in London it would make sense for us to go out for some brewskis. The issue with throwing your arms around the world via the Internet is that you meet some really fucking cool people but without an incredible amount of effort it is very unlikely that you will ever find yourself in the same pub as them. I feel like I know more about my friends in Ohio, Brooklyn, Warnambool, Oxford, Chicago, anywhere in (or outside) Albion, than I do about people I see every day. The Internet is a fantastic tool for taking the wheat from the chaff (or indeed the chav) and highlighting the kind of people we all really are. The me that I take to the Internet is about 37% funnier than the me who saunters into the office with a green tea in hand on a Monday morning dreaming about overthrowing capitalism. His selfies are better than my selfies. His take on life is more poignant, more spiritual, more observant and more sexy than my own. I admire him. I envy him.
What you highlight about yourself online tells people an awful lot about you and as a result G and I decided we should meet up after work and set the world to rights over some costly continental lagers.
Last night we did just that. We met in the rain-shabbled entrance of an underground station like star-cross’d lovers and headed to a pub round the corner. My biggest concern was how awkward it would be to hustle my way through conversations with a stranger but of course, we had a lot of stuff to talk about. We both find ourselves removed from the Essex boy mark-up, we have mutual interests in film, television, books. We are both in the kind of relationships that involve having to parry questions of marriage rearing their heads every other week. In a way it cut out the awkward getting to know you (getting to know all about you) bit of getting to know someone. We were already over several of those first hurdles. Once you get beyond the fact that the man sat opposite you explaining why kangaroos were not on the ark is someone you have only met in the last two hours you can actually have a really good time.
After university, or whatever level of full time education you reach, it becomes hard to make friends in a very real sense. A lot of the people you spend your time with are those you do so with as a result of circumstance. I am not belittling those I spend time with or what we share, after all, it would be a lot worse if we didn’t get along, but we only came into one another’s orbits as a result of circumstance. I am also not saying that I haven’t met some incredible friends since university, I am just saying it is harder in the outside world. To find someone online that you click with (in the least romantic sense possible) is an interesting experiment and experience.
I guess the point I am trying to make is that if you jump into that void you’ll be surprised what you find. Despite what they say in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts it is safe to go back in the water.