Friendship in 2014 is as confusing as deciding to watch The Leftovers after missing two weeks. What was once conversation and face-to-face interaction has been replaced with texting and DM’ing, a removed way of fulfilling our instinctual need for real connection – yet JUST making enough contact to survive. We’ve all become Noah. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned – while both witnessing an unhealthy dependence someone has on their iPhone, and I myself struggling with its role in my life – it’s that these patterns can, and should, be broken. Do you seem to meet all your friends, or significant others, through Twitter? You can laugh, but it’s more common than you think. I’m not here to tell you anything is wrong with that, it’s your life to live, but with the help of some of my friends, I hope to give you some practical advice on how to bring these virtual relationships into reality. It’s like my online version of The Little Mermaid, but instead of you ditching that pesky fish tail for a working vagina (which at its core is what that movie is about), I’m forcing you to move away from the laptop and become a functioning human with conversational skills. Because no matter how far we’ve come in technology, nothing will ever rival the genuine importance of actual dialogue. So for a few minutes, let’s ignore our Twitter handles, and call each other by our government names. Let’s slide OUT of each other’s DMs and pop into shared spoken words and physical contact. I’m challenging you to reach out to one of the people you converse with strictly on Twitter, and ask them to hang out in person. Call me a grandpa if you will, but in a few years when we’re dressed like Starship Troopers, completely silent and talking to each other solely through interactive Beats by Dre pill speakers, you’ll miss these days.
I’ve enlisted some of the most creative and humorous people on Twitter to give you advice for when you do meet these Twitter friends IRL. Each gave me some talking points for you to follow, and then I’ve taken it one step further and broken down their words of wisdom in more detail. Let’s get this shit #popping.
Louis Peitzman (@LouisPeitzman), editor at Buzzfeed, 31.8k followers.
“Don’t try too hard to match your online persona. Be yourself.”
Louis is right on with this one. Some of us use Twitter for jokes, others post pictures of food and some weirdly just link us to stories about political beliefs we’ve never asked for, but no matter your strategy, we don’t need you to be the same person you represent all day in 140 characters. We just need the 1 character now, thanks. I assume that if you have dinner with Carrot Top he doesn’t just repeatedly pull out props from under the table and perform his act for you. OK, well, maybe he does. Bad example. But feel free to be vulnerable and express emotion. Show this other person that you’re more than an avatar and fav, you’re an asset as a homie.
Jake Fogelnest (@JakeFogelnest), comedian/doing great in show business right now, 73.5k followers.
“Don’t just talk about the damn Internet. In fact, don’t talk about the Internet in real life.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself, Jake. Separate that shit. If you don’t have enough material from your own life or current events to talk about with your friends or on a date, I feel bad for you. If you discuss a meme or a RT you ironically showcased from Tara Reid while actually staring at someone across a table, join a message board or something. Unless you’re spending 5 minutes to talk about how cute Lil’ Bub is (which I kind of get), leave that shit on a keyboard. This would be like yelling “FIRST!” when a waitress hands your glass of water to you before the rest of the table. You wouldn’t do that. So chill the fuck out.
Ian Karmel (@IanKarmel), comedian/writer (Chelsea Lately), 12.5k followers.
“Meet in public. Pick a coffee shop. You’re stimulating the economy and you won’t end up murdered in a basement/tasting someone’s homemade beer.”
I’m not going to pretend that just picking a random off the internet and setting up a meet & greet is 100% safe. I imagine Jeffrey Dahmer woulda loved Twitter. So, like Ian suggests, meet amongst others. Don’t agree to go hang out in their Lovely Bones rape den. That’s a bad idea. Dave & Busters? Sure. Their log cabin in the desolate woods of Simi Valley? NOPE. Have a dinner. See a movie (in a theater, not a basement). You get the point. It also wouldn’t hurt to give some of your other friends the name of the person you’re meeting up with. That way someone knows who to investigate with 20/20 when your body is found in a suitcase near the mini golf place in Sherman Oaks. Also, you could Google search their name and see if claims add up, but that would also affect your chances of starring in an eventual Catfish episode, so please proceed with your goals in mind.
Leslie Grossman (@MissLeslieG), actress, 17.7k followers.
“Prepare to be disappointed. Sometimes someone can be hilarious endearing and charming online and a total bore dud in person.”
I appreciate Leslie’s advice here. Like you’re a Lakers fan next season, keep your expectations low. I’ve hung out with numerous tweeters who can be witty and sly online, but in person they’re a wet blanket of monotone. Depression begets humor, so keep in mind, sometimes things aren’t as bright as they seem on your computer screen. Also, we all know the photos we pick to represent ourselves online are typically the ones we think are the best, not the ones that show our double chin from a low perspective. Or the one that shows how hairy our arms are. And don’t forget, when it comes to love hunting, a lot of dudes cruising Twitter are basically just playing a numbers game. They’ll follow and unfollow girls repeatedly until they get attention or just continuingly reply to ladies until eventually, someone notices and engages in conversation. It would seem their philosophy is, “You can’t win without trying,” which is coincidentally also what your state lottery and state fair carney games hopes you believe. You have to imagine, if they’re reaching out to you, they’ve done it before and are probably still going to do it. And that’s thirsty as fuck.
Sara Benincasa (@SaraJBenincasa), aurhor/comedian, 23.6k followers.
“Direct Message about how funny or smart they are, not how sexy.”
This one obviously focuses on the dating aspect of Twitter. A lot has been said about “sliding” into someone’s DMs lately, a practice of reaching out without provocation, in hopes of flirting. It can be seen as desperate or tacky, especially if your hopeful suitor calls you out publicly with a screenshot, so tread lightly. That’s why Sara wants to make sure you take the high road. Don’t reach out like a perv, aggressively trying to hook up. Approach these private messages like greeting cards. You wouldn’t put “Your titties make me hard” in a Hallmark birthday card, and if you would, you may have Tourettes Syndrome. Say something short and classy and keep moving around the party. No woman likes a creep, unless it’s Jared Leto, so don’t be a douchebag, which technically should be advice you’re given in ANY situation from dating to to business to Skeeball.
Jenny Johnson (@JennyJohnsonHi5), writer, 423k followers.
“I don’t like meeting Twitter folks. When I tried it, it was uncomfortable.”
Sometimes you can’t control the situation, and no matter what preparations you follow, at the end of the day, you’re still entering the unknown. I, like Jenny, have had rough experiences. I’ve entered into relationships from this dumb website that would make Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon seem optimistic right now. It may just be safer to avoid Twitter seeping into your real life at all by keeping it simple and separated. There is no human expression as cute as an emoji, so why even try it? You may have to learn this first hand but don’t be hard on yourself either. Sometimes things aren’t meant to be and like I’ve been saying all along, human interaction is key, so meet a possible friend/lover at Whole Foods, or the gym or a Lovely Bones rape den. It just seems safer.