We’ve all heard the traditional idiom about meeting people in real life, and not forming friendships over the internet. It goes something like this: “You can be anyone you want on the internet, so don’t trust anyone”.
That is still technically true, but sometimes the people you know on the internet are even more awesome in real life than they appear over Slack (or Twitter or Facebook or whatever).
While most of my relationships were still made the old-fashioned way of IRL first, then internet second, I have quite a few new friends from work (and WordCamps) that prove the delightful exceptions.
I have met so many people online in the 3 months I’ve been a part of Automattic. It’s how a remote company works. There’s not a ton of face time, since we all work from wherever we are.
It’s kind of amazing to be able to count people from across the US and the world as my friends. I felt it easy enough to consider them co-workers and acquaintances, but I can call them friends with the same amount of certainty.
Recently we all met up for our company-wide meetup (the Grand Meetup), and I was able to put some faces to avatars and names from Slack. (You can follow a bit of what went on here on Twitter using the hashtag).
Sometimes you worry about whether you will actually like the people IRL, sometimes you worry if you come across weirdly in chat, etc. (mostly that I am weird).
I never felt that way at the GM. I knew a good chunk of my co-workers already from previous trips, etc., but there were so many more that I had never met (and barely chatted with) that are now valued friends that I am looking forward to hanging out with more (online and IRL).
So, if I hung out with you at all during the GM (or at WordCamps, or anywhere else), then you should know that we’re friends for a reason.