Meeting Online Friends IRL

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One of my best friends of all time I met through Halo 2. He led me onto other games, giving me more experience in things I normally wouldn't of touched, and even renewed my interests in MMO's. After talking for 2 years we decided (with his family) that I should and could come up for his birthday.

An important note here is I live in North Carolina and he in Alberta Canada. Anywho I was exciting but somewhat worried along the way. We had much video and audio chat on skype and other programs, but I knew some things could be edited so it was a constant concern that was quickly wiped after I tackled him outside the airport.

Was truely one of the greatest weeks I've ever had.

A note though for anyone visiting a friend out of country you met online, don't tell Customs that. Was a fun few moments in "The Room" trying to figure out if I was a pedophile or not -.-

I'm lucky in that twice this has happened and both times worked out well.

One was a group of friends who lived on the otherside of the UK, we all met up once and it was awesome. I see them about three times a year and we all game together on Xbox Live.

The other occaision was with people on here, UK Escapism was the result and that was a very epic time! =D

While i was still playing in wow, one of my friend got to know this one guy from the same county we were introduced and i got to know a whole bunch of people. Me and my friend have been hanging out online with them.

Then this summer we were invited to their once a year LAN that lasted for a whopping 5 days straight. We all had fun and while the looks differed a lot the personalities were pretty much what i was used to.

Anyways.. Afterwards we've been well in touch and still hang out regularly on the same teamspeak and play games online.

When I met a majority of the people in my Clan/community for the first time at the i Series, it wasn't all that odd cos of the amount of time spent talking to them online. Plus, with the jobs they had etc a big skill was breaking that social ice before it's even begun to form.
Also, I'm not that different online as I am in real life: still weird, I still moan a lot (not because I'm miserable, I just enjoy the concept of "moans"), still in a state of "eh, so what".

I think it helps, ALOT, to have had voice communication with the people online as opposed to just text.

Wow... crazy that you actually say something like that. That's one of a few reasons why, I believe, a friendship between me and a gradually broke down to a thinly-veiled "fuck off" which then resulted in a swift and outright "fuck you and everything you stand for".

Anyway, so far some of my friends on Live that I've met in real life has gone pretty well. There's a guy that goes con-hopping (read: goes to various anime conventions) as much as I do, and we often run into each other in the game room. Good times await. Back in February, I met a bunch of friends who happen to live a quick train ride away (save one - he flew in from fucking Arkansas). It was great - matches, pizza and subs every day, color commentary during a [failed] speed run... good times.

Then again, to piggyback on what the person I quoted above said, we all have kept in contact through Live constantly. We have a pretty good understanding of each other's characters, even if a few details tend to get blown out of proportion on occasion (such as a friend saying that I'll sometimes put something of his in "a negative light"... we've known each other for 6 years, I think he would know when I'm truly being negative about something). SO I think being able to congregate through voices helps immensely in judging a person's character. You know, tonal inflection and whatnot.

This reminds me, I need to gain some perspective on something...

Whilst I never met anybody through 'gaming' I've met all of my partners online, so that's been largely a positive experience. Obviously it's not a risk free exercise, but what isn't? I think it's a pity that negative experiences get pounced upon, but given this is an advice column, I somehow doubt people will ask for much advice on positive things that went well. :)

If I may chip in: Despite the fun everyone may have had during a meet for the first time, it is always awkward. There's a fairly strong possibility that they could not fully handle that connection, and just decided to let go.

I do have a question, though. How long has it been since you saw them? I know the first time I met one of my friends online it was a while before we could shake the awkward feeling.

Cripes. Am I the only one on this forum that is still wary about meeting people online?

If I may chip in: Despite the fun everyone may have had during a meet for the first time, it is always awkward. There's a fairly strong possibility that they could not fully handle that connection, and just decided to let go.

I agree with you on that. Even if it's someone you've been in contact with for a while and you meet them, it IS still weird. I guess it's because that person only existed as words or a voice and now they're actually in front of you!

I had that happen where I'd met a group of people that we had a game with and I felt really awkward the whole weekend. If you're with a group of people online you can chat about whatever you want and however adult you want it. But to do that in a family sort of restaurant when people can overhear you? That just made me cringe. I never did meet that group again in person and sometime later, just left that group.

Kirch Libre:
Cripes. Am I the only one on this forum that is still wary about meeting people online?

No, but I think a lot of people are wary about meeting online friends. Adult or minor, there's a lot of things to consider, but I think a lot of people 'round here are smart enough to know the risks.

Personally if I were going to meet up with my online friends, I'd do it by meeting at something like these Escapisms (which sound really cool btw, if I were in the area I'd join), or going to a con and meeting up. If things aren't so horribly awkward that you can't stand to see each other again, then maybe try for a more one-on-one meeting.

An online friend of mine, who actually went to the Netherlands to visit a friend (she's from the UK), has this great quote about online vs RL friendships. "There's a lot gained from being around someone physically. If you can't scratch yourself around them, it won't work out."

I've not done it myself, such cases were always bringing someone I know offline into something online, but I have seen success elsewhere.

A friend from uni met some people online, formed a clan with them (Bad Company 2, I think), and later found out some of them go to the same university. No problems there, but then again, there is that extra level of relate-ability.

Another friend of mine met someone online with whom he started a long distance relationship. I believe it's been going on for around a year, and right now he's gone from Australia to America to spend a few weeks of a holiday with her. From what I hear, there's been no issues there either.

Surprises me, actually. I wouldn't have thought that people I know would have such success with online-to-offline relationships. But I've seen more success than failure so far.

My experience is: real relationships don't begin until you meet somebody in person.

Text chatting in an onling game isn't good enough, nor is ventrillo or the phone. Either way, there is just too much about that person which remains unknown and is filled in with a fantasy image. If one becomes too enamoured with the fantasy, then reality is sure to disappoint.

Obviously this is more true for an intimate connection than a casual "drinking buddies" encounter.

That said, I've had some highly successful encounters with people I met online. What I try to do is meet them in person soon enough to prevent the "fantasy image" from becoming too developed, and try to keep channels as open about character flaws as possible, and to go in to the actual encounter knowing there is a good chance the chemistry just won't be right, which is nobody's fault. You just try again.

I'm meeting up with people at the end of this month for a couple of days. I was disorganised last time so I didn't get to talk to them much but I dunno I guess online shows more what goes on in your head rather then how you might act in real life which is just not fun enough for some people.

That was my question, thanks for answering Dr. Mark. I would however like to point out the trip had absolutely nothing to do with romance, all of us that met up were in relationships at the time.

I was originally planning to go to a gaming convention and some online friends had similar plans so we intended to meet up there. When the gaming convention was no longer an option we opted to hang out together anyway.

While it is a downer that I now no longer talk to some of them, the experience was well worth it, and in retrospect one of the buddies at the meet up had reason for being unable to keep in touch, and now we're closer than ever. Although, he was the one I thought least likely to mesh with, hah.

I do have a question, though. How long has it been since you saw them? I know the first time I met one of my friends online it was a while before we could shake the awkward feeling.

The most recent get together was early August. I have however had an online friend I didn't know in person stay with me last June. We haven't talked since, but that situation was awkward on many accounts for both of us, so I didn't expect much more contact there.

My only experience with this left me pretty well scarred. I developed a very close-knit group of "friends" while playing WoW. We'd "known" each other for years, spent dozens of hours "together" each week, and I even fell in "love".

Then I quit the game, and everything changed. I felt like a complete outsider, struggled to earn attention or even responses from texts and IM, and that "love" of mine? She ended up falling for the guy who replaced me. No joke.

I came to realize that all of my online exploits, much as I wanted them to be "real", were not. They were virtual approximations of actual interactions and emotions, and they all evaporated the moment I took myself out of the virtual world that had connected me to these people.

That's not to say that these things always happen, but I think it's more or less by fortunate coincidence that an online friend somehow manages to become a RL friend (or lover). When things turn real, it's like meeting people for the first time all over again - and just like the first time, it can go any number of ways.

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