How I Used Facebook to Meet Someone in a Weird Way

Day 15 of Awkward Moments Experiment where I expand my social comfort zone and try to benefit others as well.

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Back in 2006, I joined the Bjork forum. I ended up meeting a lot of unique and interesting people on that site. I was active on that site for three years and ended up adding many of them on Facebook.

I was looking at my news feed one day. One of my forum friends that lives in Seattle had a status where her friend said, “Hey, you should come to Davis and the Bay Area.”

I ended up adding a comment and asking if she was referring to the city.

She said she was.

After talking on that status area for a few replies, I offered to hang out with her.

She agreed.

I agreed to hang out with a friend of an online friend that I’ve never met before in real life.

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October 28, 2011. 11:05AM.

We ended up meeting at the coffee house. I was waiting for my latte. In the corner of my eye, she comes to me and says “Hi.”

I told her I would be the guy wearing orange shoes.

It works like a cooler version of Where’s Waldo?

We chatted on the bench for two hours about GMO, Global Warming, the Pacific Northwest, her cat, my interactions with strangers, her travels, and both of our educational programs.

1:00PM.

She told me there was a “pub” behind the food area that was only open between 11am and 2pm. (Yeah, can you believe there’s a pub that’s only open during lunch time? Sounds like some sort of mythical place like Narnia.)

We ended up going there and found it to be a weird hybrid of a fancy restaurant with an informal bar. It had an odd fusion of ambiance.
(The image I can conjure up for you is an Italian restaurant mixed with a microbrewery.)

Over some fancy sandwiches, salad, and beer, we chatted about her travels around South America and joked about her dating life. We both talked about families and our different beliefs from our families’ cultural standards.

The best line I can remember is when I said, “Hey, I’m pretty sure many of those guys went for you because they were curious what one-quarter of sushi tasted like.”

Yes, I ended up saying weird things like that but it’s an inside joke that helped me remember the memory beautifully.

——

It’s another unconventional way of meeting someone but it was worth it to leave a little reply on that mutual (online) friend’s status.

Even my online friend approved of it.

That small effort enabled me to meet an awesome person in the area.

That’s a big reason why I stay on Twitter. You never know when you can find ways to benefit those near you in proximity or to interact with them in person.

The World is Smaller Than Ever: Use it to Your Advantage

Day 14 of Awkward Moments Experiment.

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October 24, 2011. 5:10PM.

I sat in my class and noticed a girl next to me who looked really familiar. I couldn’t put my mind onto who it was so I decided to ask, “Hi, you look familiar. What’s your name again?”

She hesitated at first and looked at me curiously. Then she said her name. Then it hit me. She’s the girlfriend of one of my relatives.

Crazy, small world.

I told her that I knew her boyfriend because he was related to me.

She laughed and we ended up talking about him while walking out of class and on the bus as well.

——

The world is incredibly small with the internet and the connections all around you.

Use that to your advantage by:
-Noticing friends of friends around you.
-Finding people who are alike on the internet.
-Knowing that if you make a mistake, you will probably never see that person again.

Stop Being a Damn Zombie (and Collect Tasty Rejections)

Day 13 of the Awwkard Moments Experiment.

October 13, 2011. 2:40PM.

I enter the bus and scan around for an empty seat. I take the only seat left.

I observe the people around the bus.

The zombies are all out in full force, sitting around, playing on their iPhones, and being bored out of their minds.

Let’s play a little game called, “Stop Being a Damn Zombie.”

I see the person next to me has a teal cover on their Blackberry.

I say quickly, “Hey, you don’t see a teal cover on a phone everyday.”

The two people in the row in front of me look back with some sort of shock. Then they go back into their own world.

The girl next to me laughs and I smile back.

I blatantly ask her questions about her Technocultural Studies major, why she ditched Biology, what she was going to do with that major, and how ridiculous that major is if they’re not even talking about G+.

The point is I didn’t care to speak about myself because let’s face it: People want to speak about themselves.

I’m here to kill boredom. I’m here to break the silence of the zombie bus.

2:45PM.

I’m pretty sure she’s intrigued as this point so let’s do something hilarious.

“Hey, so my bus stop is next. Let’s meet again to have you talk about this awesome major of yours.”

Thanks to Steve Jobs, I hand my iPhone to her on the notes app. She types her e-mail.

——

The following day: I write an e-mail to her.

Her reply:
“Hi I can’t make it this week. I have exams and my boyfriend is going to take me out. Sorry!”

Makes me smile and laugh every time.

——
Want to stop the zombie in your life? Talk to people.

-Maybe you’ll never talk to them ever again except that one time.
-Maybe you’ll make a friend.
-Maybe you’ll gain a resourceful person.
-Maybe you’ll get the cold shoulder.

I know one thing. It sure takes out the zombie element of the day.

Take Your Bow

This is a guest post by Benjamin Spall. Benjamin writes on a variety of topics ranging from simple living, minimalist travel, and entrepreneurship.

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I held onto a lot of fear at school. It wasn’t fear of anything in particular; such as a fear of dogs, spiders, or the inappropriate old man down the street.

No. This was an altogether different type of fear. I was fearful of an audience, or more specifically, I was fearful of the social implications an audience would bring.

Even something so little as putting my hand up in the classroom was enough to send my social anxiety into overdrive.

The crippling feeling of an audience was too much to bear. If the teacher were to pick me to answer the question, I feared having hundreds of eyes staring back at me as I struggled to answer a question I could have confidently reeled out if it were just the teacher and me alone.

One day, in year eight (aged 13), the opportunity came up to audition to be in the school rendition of Bugsy Malone.

Now I’m sure at this point you’re expecting me to say I auditioned for Bugsy, got the part, was dazzling as Bugsy (thrilling, even) and lost all my fear of an audience once and for all.

I’m afraid this is not the case. In fact, I didn’t audition at all.

I’ve never wanted to be an actor. I don’t enjoy acting, and as far as I’m aware I’m not very good at it (more recently, whilst helping a friend complete his university film production degree, I had to be told to stop looking into the camera on more than one occasion).

What I did want to do however, was work backstage.

I couldn’t have been more excited when I got the part. I say ‘got the part’ with great pride, yet I imagine aside from walking into the meeting dressed in all white with a booming voice, it would have been hard to have been turned away.

When we started rehearsing I could barely contain myself. Unlike my fellow classmates in acting roles who had to merly sit and watch whilst the rest of the production performed, waiting their turns patiently, I, and the rest of our small backstage team were “on stage” (an area we marked off with some silver tape) constantly.

I loved it. We rehearsed every Thursday for many more months than I can remember. My role was ever-changing. One week I may be standing in for ‘tree on the left’ due to the absence of not-yet manufactured set props, the next week I’d be running around the actors with a bucket of shredded paper, mimicking some kind of papier-mache storm.

The one thing that remained consistent, week on week, was my being centre stage. As I said earlier, I’ve never wanted to be an actor, but I knew in that moment I wanted to be somebody who made stuff happen.

Come the week of the production any fear of an audience, or indeed social fear I’d ever felt, completely vanished in favour of crippling excitement for the week ahead.

Aside from a few clumsy mishaps here and there (it turns out knocking over one prop can often cause a domino effect of prop-on-prop crime whilst stacked behind the theatres back curtain… a curtain which, unfortunately for itself and mine, cannot claim to be the greatest sound barrier this side of the Atlantic), Bugsy went off without a hitch.

Each night I’d peak out of a hole in one of the side curtains, watching the audiences reaction to the performance taking place. At the end of each night, and most in particularly at the end of the final night there wouldn’t have been enough money in the world to have stopped me from running onto the stage to take my bow.

For this was not just a play to me. This was me getting over my fear of an audience, not just the audience of parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents being performed to each night, but the audience of cast members I held a central role with each night, and every Thursday for many more months than I can remember.

I embraced being a part of the backstage team because it was something I truly wanted to do. I threw caution to the wind and ignored my previous fears and doubts so to pursue something I knew I’d love.

Don’t let fear get in the way of opportunities as they arise. Grab hold of opportunities before you have the time to convince yourself otherwise, and take your bow.

——

Follow along at his blog, or download a free copy of his debut e-book How to Start.

Brave New World (On Bravery)

Day 12 of the Awkward Moments Experiment.

Ask yourself, “What is one action I can do to be braver?”

Wednesday October 12th, 2011. 5:50PM.

I walked to one of the emptiest places on campus.

To describe it:
-There is a path to the right that leads into one of the oldest buildings. Ironically it’s called Young.
-To the left are huge steps that lead into an underground area for advising, part of another huge building. The grey walls and dome-shaped ball on top make it feel like it came from Star Wars.

The whole scene was vast and quiet.

Even the white benches seemed lonely sitting there.

I decided to sit down at one of the white benches. I was waiting for a club meeting that began at 6:10PM.

5:55PM.

Someone ended up sitting near me on one of the steps, next to my bench. She took out a book and started reading it.

I was handed a beautiful chance to be awkward. I took it.

I walked up to her and stated, “Hi, what book are you reading?”

During this moment, I had no idea what she was reading. I guessed that she was reading something I wouldn’t know.

She turned the book, which didn’t have a cover.

I saw the printed text on the first page: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. One of my all-time favorite books.

My mind splattered its wave of emotion into a slight smirk on my face.

I commented, “Wow, that’s awesome. What part are you at in the story?”

She shared that she was about two-thirds into the book where the female and the savage were headed to New Mexico. She stated this in great detail.

I ended up using that to talk about what I thought about past scenes in that novel, especially the first chapters.

I hadn’t read that book since my sophomore year in high school (five years ago). She totally resonated because she was re-reading the book to gain a better understanding of it.

After sharing more stories within that novel, we recommended other novels to one another.

I asked her to write down her recommendations to me.

As she was writing, I noticed her lovely southpaw style. “Lefty? Good choice.” She laughed: “Yeah I totally decided to pick that hand just now. Kidding.”

We also joked about how the scenery around us was like a high school, so maybe our “high-school recommended” novels weren’t so out of place after all.

As she finished writing the second book, I told her, “Well I better be going. What’s your contact? Write it down too. It would be cool to chat again.”

She wrote down her e-mail.

We’ll be meeting again.

——

All you need to gain more bravery is to be [socially] impulsive. Sometimes, great things come out of it. The scene described above is proof.