Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Power of Face-to-Face

Today officially launched the holiday gathering hoopla that is December. I went to the first of, I'm sure, many get-togethers with friends and family over lunch.

Today's group are some of my oldest friends outside of school friends. In 2002 I saw an ad in the TV Guide (I know, right? How archaic! A print magazine about television?) for an event in Toronto called Toronto Trek. Besides advertising itself as a science fiction convention, they were also advertising that the actress Amber Benson would be there. At the time Buffy the Vampire Slayer was my favourite television show and the idea of meeting one of the actors in the show was pretty fantastic. Plus all the other geeky things I love would be represented at the event.

Little did I know that I would make such truly amazing life-long friends. Unfortunately, about 80% of them live in Toronto and the rest are scattered throughout the southwestern Ontario area. So outside of the convention (or the many organizing meetings during the 6 years I was on the organizing committee) we mostly stay in touch online.

Today's lunch was warm and fun and comfortable, even though we all talked about how long it had been since we spent time face to face. Thanks to Facebook posts, or tweets, or Instagram photos, or blogs we were able to ask questions about specific things that had happened recently. We didn't need to catch-up on the big things because we all knew the big things.

The topic also came up that one of our lunch group was planning a trip to the States soon to meet some of her friends which she only knows online. There was a time this would strike people as strange, possibly even dangerous (believe me, I heard it a lot when I visited an online friend in England), but not anymore. Not a single eye at the table batted.

Embracing the online world, meeting new people, and sharing all the little quirky details of your life can really enrich it. You can make real friends and you can keep in touch with far away friends.

But never forget the power of face to face communication. Keeping an online relationship with my far away friends meant that we could skip all the boring stuff and get right to the laughs. Making online friends is easy, and you can make friends who share that one quirky interest you have, you know the type you don't meet at work. But getting to sit together and talk about that quirky interest face to face makes all the difference in a relationship.

Words like lol, rofl, lmao, headdesk, facepalm, even emoticons like ;-p are used so regularly in online speak because we are trying to communicate non-verbally, like we do in person. When face to face you can see and hear your friend laughing out loud at your joke, or rolling their eyes at a story you are telling. All of these non-verbal cues are missing when chatting online, which is why you should never discount the face to face.

You can keep a relationship close online, and you can meet new people online, but sharing a smile, a knowing look, an out-loud laugh, a hug, are priceless.

By the way, my Saturday night guilty please is Julie and Julia. It's making me a little hungry, to be honest.

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