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Friends on the Internet

June 5th, 2022

A few weeks ago, I was added to a group chat called "Mock Analysis is my Drug" with about 25 other people. This group is a sort of secret, anonymous society that writes punditry on the mock blogosphere, but also has connections in the board that runs collegiate mock trial and it's generally sort of a mock trial illuminati.  

About half of the people are returning members of the group from last year. About half are new, and we applied to join via a google form that seemed to test for both mock analysis skills and social competence. So now, we're all here, and I'm in this interesting place of trying to befriend people I've never met in person before.

Because a lot of the returners are clearly friends—they maybe meet in person at a tournament once a year, but otherwise the friendships have developed exclusively via texting and the odd phone call. And that's been an interesting experience.

Over Covid, locked down at home during high school, I was getting to know people closely with texting and calling, but I had seen them before. I had met them in person before. I had some idea of what talking to them face to face was like. And I knew that communicating with technology was temporary: that eventually it would end and I could go back to seeing them in person again.

None of that is true here. So it's been really interesting to have a very different form of social challenge. At the same time, though, it feels like an act of will more than a natural drive to socialize. I think I really like these people a lot, but it's tiring to just text folks living a thousand miles away knowing that this is largely the endgame: more texting and calls.

I think on the front end, a lot of that "casually get to know you, feel each other out" first conversation normally happens in person, which is why this feels new. But I like the idea that it's forcing me to get better at socializing and getting to know people in a different way. One of the things I realized about myself this year is that I take a lot of pride in being able to become close friends with someone when I decide I want to: In contrast to generating a lot of leads, I'm better at closing the deal. So this is, ultimately, still just an opportunity to do that.