When I first signed on to AOL back in the day, I had no intention of meeting anyone new from the Internet. I'm not sure I had any real reason to go online at all back then except to talk to my friends from school and maybe see a boob or two. My 23 person 5th grade class would actually all flock to the same private chat room every day at 5pm after school. The room was simply called "ChatWithMe" because 1. 5th graders suck at naming things and 2. This is back when there were like 200 people online, total, so we didn't have to name it "ChatWithMe937821." We would banter and bullshit for a while and then start digging in to the hard-hitting questions. A girl would ask a guy to rank his top 5 girls in the class. In retrospect, this was ridiculous because there were only eight girls in the class, but 5th graders gonna stay 5th-grading. The guy would do his ranking, then ask a girl (normally the girl he was crushing on at the time) to do her top 5 guys. This eventually led to some adorable 5th grade relationships that involved a ton of instant messaging and virtually zero IRL interaction. This also led to one of my proudest moments, getting dumped via AOL email. I really wish I had printed and framed that email. Shit.
Grade school turned in to high school and my IRL social network expanded. And while this young man was still steady trying to cop girls' screen names in an effort to expand his URL world, for me, the Internet was still first and foremost a way to communicate with my IRL friends. I mean, what was even the point of meeting new people online? I had my good friends from high school and a number of IRL girls I was chasing. The most exotic thing back then would be dating a girl from a different school. But something changed the summer after senior year of high school.
I got a job working at the Motorola warehouse in my town which put me in front of a computer screen for 8 hours a day. My job was to log in every UPS or FedEx package that arrived at the warehousr, but I had tons of downtime. I'm not sure how, but I stumbled across a music site that had a forum. I started as a lurker, then, finally, registered (started as a lurker, now the whole team fuckin' registered). So, I began to mix it up online and was getting jazzy with it *Jason Derulo voice*. Suddenly, I was interacting with strangers from all over the world, sharing, joking, fighting, but always talking about music. I found out some of these people had even met up IRL at various shows and whatnot, which tripped me the fuck out out. What a bunch of dork losers.
With college providing me 8,000+ people within 4 years of my age, I still had no need to fully commit to branching out online.
As it usually does, high school turned in to college and I began to dabble in some light, entry level Myspace usage. With college providing me 8,000+ people within 4 years of my age, I still had no need to fully commit to branching out online. Again, though, something changed when I was presented with the #rare opportunity to venture out on the road as a tour manager for my friends' band who had just recently been signed at the time. All of a sudden, we were meeting hella people from online (again, Myspace at the time). This all made perfect sense because when you're broke on the road in Boise and need a place to sleep someone from the show or Myspace would often come to the rescue. I learned that most people from the Internet were—GASP!—basically normal ass human beings that wouldn't, in fact, kill me in my sleep. If a fan turned out to be crazy, there were normally warning signs (72,000 posts about the band, etc). After touring and college, I began my "adult" life in Los Angeles and returned to my normal state of making friends IRL through mutual friends and work.
Fast forward to 2013. I'm starting my own brand and trying to market said brand on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, reaching out to #influencers to see if they want free #product. I was sliding in to mentions. I was liking shit, faving shit and just trying to connect the dots and shit. I mean, how else do you make a marketing push with zero budget? I began to interact heavy with a small crew of people who were fans of the same music, fashion and humor as me. Of course, it was only natural to meet some of these URL friends IRL at festivals and whatnot. After a few awkward interactions, and finding out a few people had misrepresented themselves online as they sometimes do, I was left with a solid crew of new friends that I was lucky enough to know solely because of the Internet. As we speak, I'm getting paid to write this article for a guy I've never even met IRL (shout out @SartoriallyInc). It's official, I have become a dork loser who meets people from the Internet.
Robesman is a dork loser who meets people from the Internet. You can meet him on Twitter here.