I had a recent chat/conversation with Jonah Keri, writer extrordinaire. We were trying to come up with a word that properly describes the web relationships we build. In today’s fast moving, instant messaging, tweeting , blogging, chatting world, we make contacts/friendships with people we’ve never met face to face. In fact, Jonah and I have been emailing, tweeting and chatting back and forth for over a year, and have yet to actually meet.
I suppose this is not an entirely new phenomenon, as there have been pen pals and such for decades. But seriously, how many people had pen pals? In this modern age, we actually engage people we meet via the web.
For example, I play in several fantasy sports leagues, and I have only physically met 3 or 4 of the more than 30 people in the various leagues I participate in. Yet we have almost daily contact with each other, either via email or IM. We talk smack, talk trades and forward stupid emails to each other.
In fact, when we relocated to Canada, I sent an email out to all of my contacts giving them a heads up. A guy in one of the fantasy leagues responded to say that although we have never met, he was just down the freeway in Seattle, and to feel free to call on him if I needed anything. We’ve been in the same Fantasy Football league for something like 5 years.
I occasionally post comments on some of the blogs I like, and have developed casual relationships with the many of the authors. Of course I Tweet, and have interaction with hundreds of people through Twitter, most of whom I have never met. Tonight my 14 year old son and I are driving to Seattle to watch our hometown Padres play the Mariners. We will be meeting up with several people from San Diego (and a few transplants like ourselves), all through meeting on Twitter.* I find this absolutely fascinating. Total strangers with common interests finding each other online and establishing relationships.
*I guess these are called Tweetups.
The nagging question for me is what do we call these relationships? Jonah and I have a mutual online friend, Joe Posnanski, and recently Joe pondered the same question and came up with the term “e-migo”. While it may be fairly descriptive of the interaction, “e-migo” just missed the mark for me.
After racking what’s left of my brain for what seemed like days, I think I have the ultimate word for our new online relationships:
It’s an easy word to say, and I think it sufficiently describes our casual relationships. Like an acquaintance, it’s someone we know, but haven’t reached a point where we would consider each other friends. We kind of know each other, but not so well as to know things like birthdays, anniversaries and the like. We may even know each others spouses or kids names, but that probably came more through our online profiles than real connection.
Like my buddy from the FF league, we reach out to each other and offer our help and services if needed. Kind of like an acquaintance, but not quite the same.
“I’m Andy The Beerman, it’s a pleasure to make your equaintance!”
You know, I really like that. Let me know what you think, maybe we can get it in Websters!