Hello! I'll be meeting some online friends at a con soon, do you have some tips to make it fun? And def not awkward since we get along pretty well online so I hope it'll be the same irl and want to do anything to prevent it from going sour
Kiriska: Hmm, honestly I don’t have a lot of specific advice for this because these days, a vast majority of my friends I either met or interacted with online first before meeting them at cons. Or even if I did meet them in person first, we interact and chat mostly online. I don’t make much of a distinction between online friends and “offline” friends because they’re all kind of the same to me.
That said, these suggestions can probably apply to any meeting with a friend you haven’t hung out with in person before, or whom you haven’t seen in a while:
- Make plans ahead of time about what you guys want to do; even if there’s no concrete itinerary, have a list of a few options that everyone is okay with, and be ready to just pick one if you need to. It can be hard to plan things spontaneously, especially at a con, so it’s better that everyone is on board with a few options ahead of time. It’s also no fun continually delay things because everyone is “you decide” “no, you decide” so be ready to be the person to call the shots if no one else wants to. :P
- Be honest, flexible, and understanding. If there are particular situations you’d be uncomfortable in or things you don’t want to do, be upfront about them and plan around them. For example, if you really don’t want to hang out at the pool or whatever, don’t just try to avoid the topic. Just be honest about it. And if your friends want to do the thing anyway, let them know it’s okay to go without you, or suggest something else to do. If your friends have a thing they don’t want to do, be understanding about it.
- Stow away a few conversation topics, things you want to bring up/ask your friends, or things you want to show your friends. You don’t need to write them down or anything, but give some thought to what you guys might talk about during downtime or lulls in conversation.
Interactions with people in person are always going to be different from interactions online, but I don’t really think they’re that different. The usual things apply. Joke around, but don’t be mean. Be honest. Make sure everyone’s comfortable with everything that’s happening, whether that’s with restaurant choices or activity choices or conversation choices or whatever.
Nattosoup: Love all of Kiri’s advice! Only a couple things to add:
Consider making them a small gift! It’ll help break the ice, and it can be a good conversation topic.
Exchange phone numbers ahead of time! Just in case plans change last minute.
Don’t worry about being awkward- sometimes that fear makes you MORE awkward. Just try to relax, have a good time, and think of them as you do when you’re online.