Some social conventions take a long time to change. For example, some books on social etiquette that were written in the 1930’s are still in use today. But changing technologies will always change how people relate to each other. People in the 1930’s, for example, would have never dreamed of people being able to talk to each other with the ease of the modern world. This means that it’s often necessary to consider just how to approach new technologically influenced social situations. And one of the most pressing for a lot of people is how to bring an online friendship into the real world.
One of the most important things is to keep expectations in check. It’s extremely common for online communication to have an air of flirting in them if it’s between people of the opposite sex. But it’s important to remember that in the real world that spark needs to be there. And just as people don’t feel it with almost any person they randomly run into, the chances of it happening with someone who seems compatible online are just as low. It might happen, but in general it’s best to assume that platonic friendship is the goal.
But with friendship in mind, one might wonder when to even broach the subject. It’s usually best not to overthink it. The most common problem with moving friendships from the digital to analog world is treating it as something out of the ordinary. It tends to be what people make of it. If it’s treated as strange, it becomes strange. If treated like a normal bit of fun, then that’s what it’ll be. So one should just plan it like one would any ordinary outing with friends. Though the only exception to the rule is that it’s generally best to just do something together rather than with other friends. Handling various introductions becomes more difficult when both people are meeting for the first time.
Other than that one should simply plan by not really planning. Generally, both parties will have things in common. When the idea strikes to get together sometime it’s often best to simply keep an ear and eye out for anything interesting going on in the area. The shared hobby is usually enough to quickly push through any bit of awkwardness which might arise from such a dramatic shift in how both people relate to each other. Finally, the last thing to remember is that one should simply have fun. Friendships are born out of people having fun together. So it’s best to stop worrying and enjoy oneself.