This summer (well, the last year actually) has been somewhat special for me. This has been a year of many, many new friends, and close ones at that, and I give social media a lot of credit for that.

twitter bird in real lifeThe expression IRL (in real life) has been questioned by some, meaning that the life on the Internet is just as real as the life in the physical world. And I’m bound to agree, the online world is an integrated extension to the world we used to refer to as IRL.

Let me elaborate. In the beginning of last year I went to my very first Tweetup (a meeting for users on Twitter) and was met by some 20-30 people in the same situation as myself. We’ve been on Twitter for some time but didn’t really know the people there. We are all quite open and sociable so we do not really find it too challenging to talk to a some new people.
These Tweetups are not so frequent that you actually get to know people just by attending them, so what make them special is that we in the time between actually take part each other’s lives. We read their small (and to some insignificant) posts about their day to day life; where they take their morning coffee, how they travel to work, that they too struggle to come up with a recipe for Thursday’s dinner. These are bits of knowledge that if we only met eye to eye would take years to learn, but with Twitter (and Facebook) this is the information that fills the gaps between each physical meeting. Connecting the dots and helping us to get to know someone a lot faster.

For myself this has resulted in some ten new friends, just the past year, that I’d call close. And I was told you cannot make new friends when you’re grown up…

So, IRL is not really relevant but it’s a commonly used term for what we do when we meet eye to eye in the physical world. The term is not important though, what is important is that Internet and its tools for connecting and learning about your pairs is an integrated and part of our lives. Bridging the gap between the times we meet and helping us to get to know each other a lot faster then ever before.