Meeting My Medium Friend

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Last week, my wife and I met for the first time one of my Medium friends. I call them “Medium friends” because I met them there, and I feel the Medium community like a special one, important to me. But some of them should be just called friends. Friends who share my passion for writing, and more. Special friends.

Mateja Klaric is the Medium friend I’m most close to and, coincidentally, one who is easier to meet considering the distance.

I thought it would have been somehow weird. We always talked just by email or comments on Medium. We knew some, of each other, but we never heard our voices or seen much pictures. Still, we’ve known each other for over a year and, as often happens on Medium, have shared stories that you share with your online friends and maybe not with your family, or your friends in the fleshy and chatty life.

Meeting Mateja was not weird at all. The contrary. Reality adds details that make persons more human and rich, but if you already know what drives that person, her biggest challenges, the rest is a detail. For instance, I expected her to be more reserved, while she’s very easy-going and friendly.

We met in a wonderful city — Ljubljana — , and we had a great time together, visiting many places in the town, and talking about anything.

Mateja speaks perfect English while my wife and I are not fluent, so communication has been a bit slowed and limited, but this has not been a big issue.

What did we talk about?

About life, about the many lovely and original aspects of the city, about our experiences, about our future. Just bits, of course, but in the fashion you speak with an old friend. We also spoke a little about Medium. But not much at all. Maybe few minutes.

Now that I think about it, someone would have taken the occasion for an interview, for some reportage together, something socially shareable and profitable, even if she is not famous already, and I’m nobody at all. We are both young enough to appreciate part of the Web, but old enough to spend time with a friend knowing that that time is precious and has nothing to do with the colors of the Web, but rather with the colors of life.

We took some pictures of us, of some special details or places, under good light, and so. Some of those pictures may see the socials because that’s part of our way to express ourselves. Also, this post is being written, even if I just thought about it few minutes before starting to write it. But it’s all a byproduct. Just a byproduct.

I’m sure we will remember that day for long, and it has little to do with Medium. It has to do with us as persons and friends.

At the same time, she’s not a virtual friend become “real”. She was a friend and still is. Not a friend who is always there, or gives you a ride to the airport, or that you meet on birthdays — and maybe this is for good — , but a friend who shares part of your path and who can understand. Beyond virtuality. And also beyond reality.

Some “virtual” friends may share reality — and more — as much as “actual” friends may share just virtuality — or less — . I don’t know about you, but I’ve shared my passion for writing in one year on Medium more than with next-door friends in my entire life. So to speak; actually, I’ve not plenty of next-door friends.

Online friends failed me. But scented friends failed me too. At the same time, I’ve been positively surprised by online friends, and I’ve been positively surprised by touchable friends too — theoretically touchable, don’t misunderstand — . Friends are persons, with or without an account. And persons are complex individuals, whether they share a beer or a post.

Anyway, friendship needs multiple points of contact. The Web is not enough. Like a beer is not enough. Or the job place. Or an experience. Virtuality may enhance and abstract reality but — in the words of Woody Allen — reality is still the best place were to get a good steak. Or — in this case — meet a friend, which is better both for vegetarians and carnivores.

We met when we are also both having feelings of disillusion about Medium. Moreover, we both have to face challenges for which Medium cannot help. Different challenges, but pivotal points in our lives.

Now that I have to turn part of my attention away from Medium — saving the memories of that special period in a safe place of my heart — meeting my friend in person sounds like a celebration, a significant passage from online tales to offline life. And having my wife there made it a family event, not just a personal event.

My friend, it’s been a pleasure to meet you on Medium, but meeting you in person told me that reality is still the best place where to meet friends. At least once in a while, because parking costs a fortune.