two friends talking to another friend on a computer sitting outside

In-Person vs Virtual

Sometimes, it can be hard to get our friends to spend time with us in person. Technology is awesome, we can easily and conveniently connect with our friends online through a wide variety of platforms. In recent years, chat rooms that allow users to create avatars have become increasingly popular. They can be fun depending on the theme of the room. They also offer a sense of anonymity, and they provide users with a chance to escape the reality of their everyday lives. 

However, avatar chat rooms can also be dangerous places. Many users find themselves becoming addicted to the “escapism” that these rooms provide. They begin to spend more and more time in the virtual rooms, and eventually, their real-life friendships suffer.  It’s no secret that the disconnect leads to social anxiety, loneliness and depression.

In addition, avatar chat rooms can be insidiously deceptive. It can become difficult to distinguish real life from the fantasy. Users can create any persona they want, even deviate way far from who they really are – Wait a sec, isn’t that kind of insulting? That I am supposed to become someone “better”? As if there is something wrong with the real “me”? 

So, it is impossible to know if you are really talking to a friend or a stranger, or even worse, a potential ________ (you fill in the blank). That’s scary. As a result, it is important to approach avatar chat rooms with caution.

Meet Kelly, who shares both her virtual and real-life experiences, and how she took off—away from her digital comfort zone: 

“I really wanted to be liked and validated for who I am. I longed for that sense of belonging. But I admit I was more comfortable wearing a mask of self-confidence in the virtual electronic world, because I felt so insecure in genuine face-to-face interaction. I finally grew weary of trying to keep up with the fake persona; I mean, will others love and accept the real me, or just the mask I was hiding behind? So, I was nervous, but took a step of faith by getting up and out, calling up and meeting up with a friend. Then another friend…and another… The key was just one friend at a time; that made it easy! As I was able to demonstrate my appreciation for my friends, I discovered the freedom of authenticity and the joy of RealConnection. Now that I can be my real self in-person, I feel confident and qualified to be a RealFriend! Do you know how liberating and empowering that is?”

So, if you want to get your friend to hang out with you in person, here are a few tips to try:

  • Express how important their company is to you and how much you enjoy spending time with them. 
  • Make an effort to be available when they’re free. If we’re always busy when they’re available, they’ll quickly get the message that we’re not interested in spending time with them.
  • Invite them to a ChainMeet at a coffee shop or food cafe you know they’ll enjoy. If you make an effort to include them in choice of place or food, they’ll be more likely to want to spend time with you.
  • Then ask how their latest project is going, or if they have any vacation plans; encourage them to talk about what is going on in their lives. 
  • Finally, let them know that you’re there for them and that you value their friendship. 

By following these tips, you’ll be sure to motivate your friend to accept your invite to a ChainMeet and spend more time with you in person! 

Now go and inspire forward!

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