I met Abe at a party in 2006 and we’ve been close friends ever since. We have a lot of things in common, but one of those things is our mutual obsession for music. From the first day we met, we we’ve been sharing music. And we quickly started doing that on Skype. Skype can show what you are listening to on iTunes in the status, and so we would be commenting on each others tunes all day long (tangent: Skype then added the very annoying “feature” of sending all your contacts a notification every time your status changed – which I didn’t know about until clients started saying something. And those of you who know about my love for experimental music can appreciate the odd names that must have flashed across my client’s monitors 🙂 Anyhow…
Soon after meeting Abe, I met Loyal and we all ended up working together (remotely) for several years. When I moved to the Netherlands in 2009, Abe started a 3-way chat on Skype that hasn’t stopped. Almost every day since 2009, Abe, Loyal and I have talked about everything and nothing together. It’s a casual, awesome ongoing conversation that has kept us connected even though we all live in different corners of the world (Abe is in Arizona, Loyal is in Oregon).
On Monday, I got a text saying that Abe was delayed on a layover in Amsterdam for the evening. I hopped on the train to meet him for a very rare opportunity to see each other in person. We hung out and talked and watched videos about his recent paragliding vacation in Turkey – and as soon as Loyal was online, we called him. My boyfriend joined us later in the evening, and Abe and Loyal finally got to meet him!
What was interesting about seeing Abe in person was that there was no catching up needed. It was simply a continuation of the conversation we’d already been having.
I know that most people prefer seeing each other in person. You can’t beat it! I mean, that hug from Abe was divine! However, it is also undeniable that significant virtual friendships can be formed online. I am exploring this topic more (with Howard Esbin, PhD) so sign up on the Collaboration Superpowers mailing list for some interesting research!
Do you have a fun virtual friendship? I would love to hear about it!