April 21, 2014

The Online Friend Crush


Apparently the world is only just coming to terms with the fact that online dating is now a proper thing. Google tells me “more than a third for new marriages now start online”. That’s quite a big chunk of people. Not surprising, really. It’s changed everything.

I mean, if it is now possible to find out a bit more about someone (thanks to the Internet) before you commit to a long dinner date then this sounds like a very sensible and clever way of not wasting your time, or having to talk about pets for 5 hours when you hate animals, for example.

Since the laddy device called Tinder catapulted onto the scene we definitely see a WIFI connection as a casual facilitator of hook-ups, rather than a strange digital alien. Such dating sites are now so engrained in our everyday vocabulary that apparently most apps are now both verb and a noun: “no he’s not my boyfriend, just a Tinder!” and “I’m going to Plenty of Fish it up this weekend!”

Online dating is fine. But is still slightly taboo to say you’ve been picking up new asexual friendships on the Internet? Does anyone worry it makes look like they are short of friends?

If people love meeting new pals online so much, why has no-one invented the “friends” equivalent to Tinder then? Say I had 10 minutes spare on Kingsland Road and wanted to discuss the new Donna Tartt book and all my friends are elsewhere? Would it be possible to grab a drink with someone who would interest you, inspire you and have the same interests as you, just casually? Of course it’s possible. It’s amazing.

Well, that’s kind of what Twitter is turning into for me. It’s like a friendship dating app.

If you said to some IRL friends down the pub with that you’d been for a platonic dinner with some pals you met on the web, my inkling is that people would think it was slightly strange. I’m assuming mainly because it happened to me. I told a bunch of friends I met up with two girls from Twitter (who both work in the media industry) for dinner at Hoi Polloi the night prior. “What, like you met with two strangers from the INTERNET? FOR DINNER?” was their initial reaction. But it wasn’t technically true that I didn’t know them, I’d been exchanging links, LOLs and one-liners with these gals for months, plus we had heaps of mutual friends- so what was weird about that? 

I think it’s about time we booted the preconception that it’s not OK to meet up with people that you have naturally made friends with online. I love the fact that you can pretty much filter through people to find your perfect friend “matches”.

Similar interests, topics, followers, conversations and hashtags are now bringing us closer together, and it’s a beautiful thing (as long as you’re not a slave to the algorithms). If you are supposedly meant to be able to find your sexual “soulmate” online then why couldn’t you been loads of nice new friendships too? Plus, anyone that thinks they already ‘have enough friends, thanks’ they obviously hasn’t experience their first “friend crush” online, which according to good old Urban Dictionary is when you “experience a strong desire to become friends with a person you don’t know very well”.

I like meeting new friends through Twitter and blogs has really added value as opposed to scouring through the dreaded Facebook timeline only seeing that a girl from primary school has “hung out her washing to dry and has had a really good day :D”.

Through Twitter you can actually find people who share common interests with you such as your favourite books, films, events, trips – plus it’s easy to bond over receiving an amazing recommendation on a hotel or restaurant or even get a discount from ‘someone who knows someone’. It’s the back and forth banter over time that can actually turn someone from random tweeter to friend. Making new connections has always excited me. 

To date, through the wonders of the Internet and people who read my blog and vice versa, I have had wonderful dinner dates, been invited along to a book writing sessions (for a group of us who are thinking about drafting novels), gone to the pub with fellow bloggers, shared early morning coffees with editors, arranged to meet for a pre-conference coffee.

I’ve also met a fellow bookworm by giving away a spare ticket via Twitter to an event at Waterstones to attend a talk by Dawn O’Porter because we were both fans (and my IRL friends don’t really share the same intense adoration as me). Oh, and not to mention finding my tribe.

I love meeting new people and in this Internet age (the net is engrained in everything we do) and actual age (I am twenty something) there are so many new things to discover and personal interests to explore that it’s hard not to spot a fabulous new friend when you tweet one.

image via fab blog

One Response

  1. Found myself nodding to most of this! I sometimes see things in a shop that I *know* someone (who I’ve never met IRL) will like and I mention it out loud to be met with derision from BF. I think it’s a mainly generational thing to find meeting someone online for any kind of relationship weird.

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