It’s a problem that is totally unique to the twenty-first century: how do you maintain your relationships with your In Real Life friends (IRLs) without alienating your Internet friends (and vice versa)? This high-wire act is especially difficult because both groups are suspicious of the other. The IRLs judge the Internet friends for having spent little (if any) time in your physical presence, and the Internet friends judge the IRLs for not knowing their way around social media. So how do you manage to keep both groups happy?
All too often people sidestep this problem by leading a double life, shuttling back and forth between the two groups and acting like the other doesn’t exist. For me, this was not the healthiest way to handle the situation, and only caused me a great deal of stress and grief.
Instead of fighting to keep these two groups apart, I’ve discovered a better solution… bring them together! Making your IRL and Internet friends aware of each other – and even friendly – will make you a whole lot happier. Here are some tips on how to make this happen:
Encourage your real life friends to join simple social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Your IRL friends likely find your interest in social media mysterious and, well, a little strange. That’s why it’s so important to get them involved in social media. They will not only understand it better, but have a chance to interact – and become friends – with your Internet friends. I can’t tell you how fun it is to see my IRL friends tweeting at my Internet friends, leaving messages for each other on Facebook, or making recipes from each others’ pinterest boards. I feel like a friend-matchmaker!
Invite local social media friends (or those when they visit) to hang out with IRL friends.
Equally as important as letting your IRL friends see what is so great about your Internet friends is letting your Internet friends see what is so great about your IRL friends. Invite your Internet friends out to dinner with your IRL friends, and, after sharing a laugh face-to-face, they will understand why your IRL friends are so important to you.
Reassure both that the other is not a threat to your relationship.
If there is one thing that could stand in the way of bringing these two groups together it’s jealousy. Both groups value you, and therefore worry that their counterpart might be more important to you. Dash these worries by making it clear you treasure both groups, and both sets of your friends will find interacting together a lot easier.
Ideally, if all goes well, both your IRL friends and Internet friends will integrate and your social group will become one great, big, happy family… until, you know, technology creates Super-duper Virtual Reality World and we suddenly have a THIRD group of friends to deal with.