Seven steps to prepare for meeting your online friends in-person

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By Sonia Tumkur

With the vaccine rollout out on its way, we’re one step closer to returning to campus. This means finally meeting our online friends in-person. Here are a few tips to make that first meeting a little smoother now that you won’t be able to excuse your social awkwardness on a bad internet connection anymore. 

Plan a memorable day out

If you want to keep your friend date simple, go for a picnic or meet at Balzac’s coffee shop on campus. Feeling too hardcore for that? Doing the CN Tower EdgeWalk is a great way to get your adrenaline pumping. Top off the day with several shots of espresso. The resulting dopamine boost combined with residual EdgeWalk-fuelled adrenaline will emphasize to your new friend the great time you had when meeting up. This might be the best way to make a lasting impression. 

Learn how to pronounce their names correctly

Pronouncing someone’s name correctly is essential to making a good impression. That being said, mispronouncing someone’s name is always the move if you consider the person you’re meeting to be a 7.5 or higher out of 10 on the scale of friendship.  Got a friend named Meghan? Demonstrate your close friendship by calling them May-gin, Mee-gan or even Mee-gah-hen to spice things up! The choice to mispronounce a future friends’ name is an art, not a science—it comes from instinct. 

Predict each other’s heights 

Zoom can be misleading; guessing each other’s heights is a fun way to prepare for meeting in person. For all my short friends, this has the added benefit of being a solid ego-boost. Compare the guesses to your actual heights when you finally meet up. Raise the stakes by betting money on who made the most accurate predictions; you’ll have no time to feel nervous about meeting a new friend without the Zoom beauty filter when you’re taking money from them!

Scope them out on social media 

None of us are above looking through all the tagged photos of someone we’ve just followed on Instagram. Do the same for the people you’re going to meet. It’ll help you gauge a little more about their style and some of their interests. If you’re up for it, do a quick LinkedIn search in private mode. Just don’t reference their high school’s mock trial team in a conversation; things could get real awkward, real quick. 

Have a good excuse to leave 

Sometimes, you meet someone and you just don’t click. Be prepared on how to call it a night without coming off as rude. A few excuses to consider: my mom wants me to come home before it gets too late; my psychic said I’d meet the love of my life outside of the Student Learning Centre at 6 p.m so I need to get going; my goldfish is unwell so I need to go home to check his temperature and note it down in his fever tracker. No excuse is too extreme. As long as you make it sound believable, you’ll be fine. 

Plan your outfit

With hopeful hearts, we’re preparing to say goodbye to wearing loungewear pieces on Zoom and hello to getting dressed up to be back on campus. Meeting friends in person means this is your time to dust off an outfit from your closet that you’ve been dying to wear. Be the main character; wear those watermelon earrings, matching necklace and the scarf you knitted over lockdown. Even if you’re just meeting at a park, you should look like you’re about to hit the red carpet at the Toronto International Film Festival. You’ll only regret it if you don’t go all out. 

Be yourself 

If you’ve come this far, it’s likely you’ve managed to be vulnerable in the digital sphere with your friend. It’s good to keep that going in real life, too. Talking about common interests and sharing past experiences is a great way to keep the conversation going while staying true to who you are. It may seem easier to pretend to be normal, but that can get boring quick. Be your weird self, and don’t hold back from what you think is too much information. The real ones want to hear all about the time you didn’t shower for a week, I promise. 

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