More Than This
There are many folks who separate the two, and may even do so successfully. Online friends are online. Offline friends are off, although emails are exchanged, and there may be a Facebook friendship there or an exchange of tweets. But that’s it, right?
But then there’s the moment when a Facebook friend introduces you to another, and it’s for some purpose or another, such as playing Scrabble. Or a LinkedIn connection who you’ve never actually seen – just some networking friend of a friend – suggests coffee.
And suddenly the worlds begin to collide.
Who’s online? Who’s off? Does it matter? Should they be separate? Were they ever?
A Confrontation in a Dark Alley
And what about trolls? What are the differences between their online and offline personae? The person who is nasty to you online, do they really behave that way face to face? I’ve got my doubts, but hey, you never know. Maybe they really do have a misshapen nose, from all of the times its been broken by someone they’ve insulted.
A Hug in Person
But most of the time, there is little difference between the online and the offline world. At least, that’s been my observation, when I have met people and have had occasion to hug them in person. Sure, online we have some time to reflect on what we’re going to say. And we can ignore and unfriend and step away from the keyboard. Real life, offline, doesn’t really work that way. But a lot really is similar, and I can attest that it’s a blast to meet people who you’ve never seen before. I have honestly never had a bad experience.
Normal precautions, of course, should be taken. Don’t meet in some unknown, private place. Don’t leave without someone knowing where you’re going. Get information as you can before departing. Don’t be stupid.
But go out and meet ’em. Meetings, gatherings, conventions, whatever you want to call them, they bring online people even closer. It’s a lot harder to flame someone if you know them.
Oh, and I can practically guarantee – once you’ve heard someone speak, you’ll hear their posts in their voice from then on.