Thursday, March 31, 2016

89. Online friends

I always wondered what my grandparents thought of social media. They either died before it came into fashion, or they just never really got into it. I don’t blame them. There’s a learning curve and kind of a sense of, “Why does this even matter?" I don’t blame them. I crap on social media a lot and it gets on my nerves on a daily basis, but I’m still using it, so Zuck, Jack, and others must be doing something right.

For all it’s foibles, I do like social media for one thing: meeting and sustaining friendships that I would not have otherwise put the effort into. I’m sure most of my grandparent’s friends were from the neighborhood, and they kept in touch with card games and letters. I understand that. And when you saw someone from a few hundred miles away, it was a big deal. (Not that it isn’t now.)

And while I do those things to keep in touch with my friends who are close, I’m also able to get to know people in ways that wouldn’t have been possible a generation ago. For example, a Facebook friend of mine, who I’ve never met in person and talked to the phone on only once, has a celebrity crush on Justin Truedeux (?), the hunky Canadian prime minister. I knew this due to her posts ending up on my newsfeed. I saw a magazine cover with him on it. I took a photo of it with my phone and posted it on her Facebook wall. (When you break down steps on social media to basic level, they do sound kind of stupid.) I don’t know her immediate reaction, but she “liked” it (or I think even “loved” it.) I guess if I was a closer friend with her, or if I enjoyed the medium, I would send her a Snapchat.

That still kind of baffles me that one can know someones likes and dislikes, whom I’ve never met.

And I can benefit in other ways as well. As I peaked on Twitter yesterday, I saw that a guy who works for MPR as a blogger was giving away his Timberwolves tickets. He’s a season ticket holder and couldn’t get rid of them for that night. So, I got them for free. (There’s a whole different backstory to this which involves the Timberwolves crappy seat policy, which has basically collapsed the resale market, but that’s for another blog post.) I just tweeted at him, saying that I could take the tickets, and a few minutes later, they were on my app. That process in of itself is kind of crazy.

These were really great seats. Let’s just say they weren’t the kind my dad would pay to spend money one. My friend was baffled by the fact that I got free tickets from someone who I had never met, but only knew from Minnesota Public Radio.

While the internet sometimes feels like a giant digital tire fire, filled with rage and angst, and devoid of any real forms of happiness other than videos of puppies, it still provides me with one thing I do enjoy: getting to know people… and free tickets. Seriously though, as weird as it sounds when I write it, I am thankful for being able to stay in contact and get to know people I would have not otherwise connected with.

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