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The Internet can be a scary place if you’re not careful, especially when it comes to strangers you befriend online. Know What They Look LikeObviously you should make sure that who you're friends with online isn't secretly some 40-year-old dude with a taco stain on his undershirt. Source: Shutterstock Exchange Phone Numbers Before Your MeetupIf you've been messaging through a particular online platform--like Tumblr or e-mail, for example--make sure you exchange phone numbers prior to meeting up. Many, many years ago, when my brother first went to college, he made some friends via the internet. I would have been more hungry for breakfast but I had eaten too many puppies the night before. About 11 years ago, when Yahoo was still the Master of Web, I subscribed to a six-degrees-of-separation kind of site and some degrees from me there was a young woman in her 30s. In fact, some of my friends who I know IRL still think it is a little odd that I’ve hung out with people who I know from the Internet through a mutual interest of Harry Potter or some indie band.
We went to the same high school and had mutual friends, but we never met in person because he was a year ahead of me. At the time, it was a foreign and strange place, full of child molesters and murderers and little else (now, I am pleased to say that while a criminal element still exists online, it is mostly populated by geeks and nerds and everyone else on the planet).
As I said before, Mike invited Rand, which was obviously a cool move, and showed he was considerate enough to not even want to give the impression of creepiness. If someone seems creepy online, and they’ve asked to meet you in person, you can say no.
If you’re meeting someone for the first time, find out a little bit about them beforehand.
This one applies more to business bloggers than personal ones, but it’s a great piece of advice. Rand always likes to tell people when or where he’s linked to them or retweeted them.
It’s always good to have something (real or fictional) planned for later, should you need to duck out early.
Meeting in public is crucial, because if the person is creepy, you can always come up with an excuse to ditch them.


But as we’re becoming more and more connected to strangers via social media and blogging, this is becoming pretty common.
Since I’ve been doing this for almost 6 years now, I thought it would be a good idea to offer some tips about that future meetup. If your only form of communication was via Tumblr messaging and you suddenly have to cancel, you might leave your friend hanging! And, long story short, the evening ended with my brother meeting some lovely friends for dinner, and then returning home to find several messages on his phone from the LAPD, who believed him to be dead or missing. Now, meeting people from the online realm doesn’t seem to hold the same dangers it did (or at least, the dangers my mother thought it did). However, since he could have been an axe-wielding maniac (or, from his perspective, I could have been one), it’s always good to exercise a little caution. I brought my husband (who Mike smartly invited, as a preemptive move against creepiness) and I was joined by two friends of mine from middle school.
It shows that you actually care about what someone has to say, and it opens up the door for reciprocity – I love it when networking actually works. As an 11 year old, I was totally confused and remember whining to the librarian, “yes, but is the internet and the world wide web the same thing? She lives in Florida and i live in Oklahoma, but she’s flying to stay with me for two weeks next month! This is the best place to make new friend, thousands of Pakistanis come here and chat live and make friends. I remember it really well: I met up with an Internet friend at the premiere of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and it was ridiculously fun.
I mean, why is the idea of meeting up with a friend weirder than meeting somebody via an online dating service? I figured we were pretty evenly matched, since Mike’s cousin looked about as strong as three women. Bonus if they have your photo on them, or if they resemble your blog in design, so people will be able to connect you with your online persona. Honestly, quite a few of you have probably become close friends with someone you know via Tumblr or Twitter or other online platforms.


Even if you're positive that your friend is who they say they are it is better to be safe than sorry. I am pleased to say that he was not at all creepy, and that no parties involved were skinned and turned into dresses, despite repeated jokes of that nature.
Keep this in mind, and only talk about things that you’d be comfortable being repeated.
Also, chances are you're hanging out in public anyway so why not?Source: Shutterstock Have Something PlannedYou don't have to have some elaborate day planned, but at least plan to grab some food and then see a movie or hang out at a cool local bookstore or go thrift shopping. And knowing that someone cares enough to do a little bit of research (you don’t want to overdo it) is flattering and can make you feel important. While I'm usually not nervous before these meet ups, I've met friends who were super nervous before meeting me. Take a deep breath and remember that they want to make a good impression just as much as you do!Source: Shutterstock They Might Be A Little (Or A Lot) Different In PersonSometimes the person you thought you knew online is pretty different in person. This isn't inherently a good or a bad thing, but it can definitely leave you feeling a little confused.
However--and I'm just being real here--it probably won't be the same.Source: Shutterstock Don't Feel Pressured To Talk Or Not Talk About What You Normally Do OnlineIf you and this friend you're meeting up with are friends from mutual love of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, don't be embarrassed about talking about that with your friend in person! Sure, it's a little different and there will be a serious lack of funny .gifs exchanged, but this can be a great ice breaker if you're still feeling a little nervous. That's probably how your friendship started in the first place, right?Source: Shutterstock It Will Probably Feel Surprisingly NormalMaybe I've just had amazingly good luck with all of this, but I've found that meeting up with my online friends in person usually feels like the most natural thing in the world. If you two chat all the time online and have some common ground, chances are you'll easily find your step pretty quickly in a conversation. I managed to stay in London for two weeks with with two different friends that I only knew online. The opportunities are endless, seriously, so take advantage of that and build a stronger friendship at the same time!




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