If meeting online people in real life is creepy, then call me a creep. Big time. This summer I wrote about the weird phenomenon that has happened this year as I made online friends–people I connected with via Twitter or writing groups that I consider actual friends. Then I went a step further and met two of them IRL (that’s in real life). Here are a few tips on meeting online friends in real life.
*NOTE: I would not always suggest meeting online people in real life! Please know that this advice is meant for adults, not young people. Always be safe when interacting online with people you don’t know.
Meeting Online Friends IRL
Stalk Them First. Wait–stalk to be safe? Yup. If this person has an online presence, follow them. Check out their blog or their Twitter feed, especially back before you met online. Usually you can get a good sense of who they are. You can watch their interactions with other people and get a sense for their real life.
Meet Somewhere Public. Just as with answering a Craigslist ad, your best bet is to meet somewhere with witnesses. Just in case. A public park or restaurant or mall would probably be the best idea.
Bring a Friend. Because you can never be too careful, bring someone else with you. I had family with me both times since I was on road trips, and this gave me an extra radar in case things seemed odd and also an extra safety net.
Because I was pretty familiar with both of the women I met online through their blogs, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds, I felt 99% confident that I had nothing to worry about. And I was right!
On the way to Virginia in July, I kind of freaked my mom out when I told her we were going to meet someone that I knew from online. At a Pizza Hut beside the highway, no less. But my mom was a trooper and we had a crazy 10pm Pizza Hut meetup with Peach. I didn’t know her real name until that day, but now I have her name AND number, and we send texts back and forth every now and then about the state of life. She is a runner and Cross-Fit-er and paleo clean-eater and totally inspires me. Our brief meeting was so much fun, and I hope we have a chance to do it again.
Cooper had fun, despite looking shocked. Babies bring the world together.
Last week in Kansas, I got to meet another online friend, Cat from Mom on the Range. We were planning to go to her farm, which I was really looking forward to, but instead met somewhere closer to the highway just because we had something like a 7-hour drive and didn’t need an extra 1-2 hours. (Still, I’m a little sad I missed feeding pigs!) There was a great, shady playground where her girls and my boys played…mostly not together. Rob did his thing of bringing children together on playgrounds and got everyone hot and sweaty in a game of Transformer Tag (a mix of hide-n-seek and tag).
It was so fun, but as I told Cat via Twitter, my fun and humor decrease in proportion to the heat, so I felt a little wilted. Still–so much fun! Here we are, proof that online people exist in real life. (And proof that heat melts me. I am like a wilted lily.)
I might be afraid to meet someone from Craigslist, but I’m clearly up for a meeting of the minds from online. I loved meeting these two lovely bloggers (whom I originally met via Yeah Write) and hope we continue to cross paths. Online people aren’t ALL crazy stalkers.