Using Technology to Forge New Friendships On-line With the Intent of Meeting With Them Face-to-Face
There is an inspiring scene in The Lord of the Rings: The Twin Towers where beacons are lit across a vast expanse of mountains to signal to Rohan that Gondor is under attack. That gave me an idea. I created a number of profiles on social networking sites across cyberspace in my effort to find friends.
I saw each one of them as a kind of beacon drawing attention to my presence and letting others know that I was interest in meeting up . Facebook, myspace, friendster, hi5 and Zorpia were some of the first sites I joined. I also went to local websites and left messages there. These included welcoming squash players to my club and general invites to some of my events. These can also be considered beacons.
The Friendships I Made Via this Route Made the Effort Worthwhile
It turned out to be worthwhile the effort. One day I placed a message on-line saying that I often went to coffee shops to write and welcomed anyone to join me for some light conversation while we worked. I was hoping to meet up with other writers or webmasters. The person who responded to that ended up becoming my best friend.
One day he suggested we play Dungeons & Dragons. We had a total of 4 players but were looking for one more. I offered to find a fifth player. I put a message on-line and someone fairly quickly responded. This new player ended up inviting me to his birthday party where I not only met the person who would introduce me to board games (thanks, Reiner!) but someone else who has become one of my best friends. It’s sometimes amazing what a little initiative can do.
My experience using the Beacons of Gondor strategy was positive. I met a number of nice people who I shared good times with. While most of them turned out to be passive, short-term friends the most notable friendships were clearly worth the effort.
Naturally, you need to exercise some caution when meeting new people you have made first contact with over the internet. I invited people to group events either outside or at my home eg. party. If I was meeting up with an individual for the first time I would do so at a public place.
Reaching Out to So Many People On-line is Not For Everybody
The Beacons of Gondor would be overkill for a lot of people. If you are a beautiful woman you may be overwhelmed with the responses from just one site. Also, if you are living in a populous area there may be more than enough people on one social networking site to meet your needs.
My situation was different. I live in Asia but I prefer befriending fellow expats rather than the locals. Many expats I meet are in their twenties. Meeting expats my age then was even a greater challenge. I was starting my circle of friends almost from scratch. Add in the fact that I seem to attract social indifference and you can begin to see why I had so many profiles.
Things have, however, changed a fair bit since my first steps on the Project Fellowship path. Now-a-days, it seems that everyone I meet has a facebook account. Also, many groups that meet up for various activities now have a presence on facebook. So Facebook may be enough for most people.
The Approach to Finding Friends On-line is Flexible
If you don’t like this idea because you are very choosy about who contacts you, no problem. You can simply open a skeleton account on a number of sites with no photo or and very little information about yourself. This way you just use your account as a probe searching for people that interest you. You can also do a bit of both. For example, I visited one of my old profiles and searching through the other people’s profiles felt very little interest overall with the people there. I could delete my photo for a while if I wanted to as well as information about myself. This makes it less likely people will contact me there.
Log-in Now and Then to Your Social Accounts
If you want to make the most of this idea be sure to log-in every now and then. On some sites, you can search profiles starting with people who have recently logged on. If you haven’t logged on for six months a lot of people may never see your profile. If you don’t intend to visit the site for a while you could write a little message on your profile saying that your main profile is over at facebook or that while you don’t often visit the site it will notify you that someone has sent you a message. That way people won’t think your profile is dormant. There are lots of profiles on these sites that people haven’t gone to for a long time.
If you have several profiles on-line and want to log into all of them quickly the Firefox web browser can open all the links in a folder of bookmarks quickly for you. Click on, “Open All in Tabs.”
On-Line Now Indicator to Grab People’s Attention
If you want your beacons to burn a little brighter log into all of them. If you are properly set up it will only take a few minutes. On probably all of your accounts the “on-line” text or icon will flash. People who are searching for people who are currently on-line will see it as well as people who happen to be viewing your profile. I never did this though but it might be worth a try.
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