A parable for the social network generation…

Want to join the party? Then make sure you get involved! (Image c/o brettarthur on Flickr)

About a year ago I met a guy called Jim.  He’s a nice bloke and we chat to each other almost daily, I guess you could say we are quite close friends.  Anyway, as nearly a year has passed, I thought I’d share the story of how we met.

It all started at a party at a friend’s house.  I was mingling and chatting with some friends and having an all-round good time.  These parties were always really popular; people came from all over just to be there.  They were kind of the ‘in’ place to be.  Anyway, I was chatting away and having a merry old time when the doorbell went.  As I was standing nearest to the door, I took it upon myself to see who it was.

Waiting on the doorstep was a fairly non-descript guy with a blank look on his face.  Before I had a chance to say anything, he announced:

“I have never been to one of these parties before. I’m going to see what it’s all about.”

He strolled straight past me and joined the party.  This guy seems a bit odd I thought.  How weird that he didn’t even introduce himself and just strolled right in.  He seemed to be a pretty harmless type though so I didn’t think to tell the host that he should be ejected.  I just shrugged my shoulders and got back to chatting with my friends (hey, I’d had a bit to drink ok!?), practically blocking out this weird newcomer to the party.

Nothing much happened for another hour or so, the party continued and the new guy just stayed quietly in the corner, eating olives and drinking beer.  He was as harmless as I suspected. Until, out of the blue, new guy stood up, moved to the centre of the room and loudly exclaimed:

“I want to punch slow walking people on the back of their heads!”

And promptly sat back down again.  Nobody really knew what to say, so we just went back to our conversations and again tried to ignore this strange new guy who had joined the party.

After a while, it was clear that new guy was getting a bit bored sitting all alone with no-one to talk to, so he made his way over to me and my friends who were discussing something that had happened in the news.  As we were talking, new guy tapped me on the shoulder and said:

“Do you like cake?  What type of cake do you like? I love cake.”

I was kinda weirded out (once again) by this random question, but wanting to be polite I replied “chocolate cake” and continued to talk to my friends, increasingly coming to the realisation that this bloke had turned up at the wrong party at the wrong time.   I was weirded out further when he suddenly started randomly repeating things I was saying loudly to the rest of the room.   I found his behaviour increasingly strange and, at this point, I was starting to get very annoyed.

However, I decided to continue ignoring new guy and re-joined the conversation with my friends.  As I did so, I noticed new guy wondering off to another corner of the room, muttering and shaking his head.  You could tell just by looking at him that he was finding the experience increasingly frustrating.  Any moment now he would cut his losses and leave with the knowledge that parties aren’t really their thing (I know, weird eh?).

Then, just as I thought he was on his way, he made his way over to me once more.  This time he sidled up to me and said:

“I saw that stuff on the news today too.  Terrible eh?”

“Yeah,” I replied.  “Don’t know how they get away with it.”

“Me either.  So, what do you think they should do about it? There must be something, right?”

And so we continued, chatting about the news and various other things.  He told me his name was John and that he was interested in literature, music and worked in an IT department (oh, and he also likes cake of course!).  I introduced him to my friends and he never looked back.  Chatting away, engaging with people and generally having a great time.  It seemed like he finally got what these parties are all about – engaging, sharing ideas and generally having a good time.

Since then, Jim and I have become really good friends.  We chat constantly and introduced each other to a range of people from all sorts of backgrounds from all over the world.  Looking back, he was a bit embarrassed about how he behaved when he first arrived at the party, but he’s over that now and everyone’s pretty much forgotten about it (they’re a nice forgiving crowd).  Which is just as well…randomly shouting things out at parties (or anywhere else for that matter) really isn’t a good way to make friends!

Twitter – If you want to join the party you have to ENGAGE!

I should add, I am not a ‘party person’.  I’m the guy standing in the corner with a bottle of beer eating all the crisps and generally keeping out of the way.  See those people in the picture?  The ‘crazy’ ones? I hate people like that. Hate them. Just thought I should make that clear 🙂

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5 thoughts on “A parable for the social network generation…

  1. I’m so happy this had a happy ending! I was getting a bit nervous there was gonna be a shoot out or something. Yay for engaging with people and making new friends!

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