Here’s a rather obvious suggestion that will likely make you happier while increasing the richness and texture of your life.
At least once a month, make an effort to reach out someone in your life that meets these criteria:
- You actually like/admire them.
- You’d like to get to know them better.
- You interact primarily with them online.
Here’s the suggestion: pick up the phone and call this person, or, better yet, arrange to meet him or her face to face — preferably for some enjoyable activity like drinking high-end coffee in a well-lit space with noise levels conducive to extended conversation.
This practice works particularly well if you’re a professional. Of the many people you email / correspond / do business with, think about the handful that make you laugh or think or just feel good. Those are the folks you need to set up a coffee date with.
When I started out as a reporter, I’d interview dozens of sources every week. Arranging to meet more informally with the most interesting among them might have been my single best takeaway from that first, just-out-of-college job. Some of those folks I’m still in touch with, and they’ve been able to help me (or at least continue to make me laugh or think) in totally unexpected ways over the years.
And you don’t have to have professional advancement in mind. Just do this for the hell of it, and good things will happen.
Interacting offline with an online friend gives you an entire shared history of wired interaction to spark conversation via shared history and ideas. Then, the power of meeting face to face can excel in cementing the relationship in a way that online interaction struggles to accomplish.
If you never meet up in person again (a likely outcome) that one personal encounter will make your future online exchanges that much more meaningful.
But sometimes a true friendship sparks, and your online interactions might fade to an afterthought as you get to know your friend in more face to face meetings.
Give this suggestion a try. The downside is very limited. The upside is not.