Facebook making you lonely? Try this.

coffee mugs

 For some of us Facebook friends are like dust bunnies 

We just sort of collect them, not paying much attention to where they are coming from or how many there are until one day we do some spring cleaning and go “Whoa! How did that get there?”  

While having a large number of online friends has its benefits, it’s the quality of contacts, not the quantity, that makes the real difference in people’s lives.   For many,  the rule for accepting a new facebook friend is “Would you want to have coffee with this person?”    

Singer/songwriter Ashley Alford is taking that a step further- she’s going for coffee with everyone on her facebook list including those she sees regularly, those she hasn’t seen for years, and those who she isn’t quite sure who they are.

In essence, she’s turning quantity into quality. I sat down with Ashley at (where else) a coffee shop, to find out more her Facebook friend coffee date project.

What’s motivating you to meet all your Facebook friends in person?   

One of the primary problems with social media is the idea that everyone can hide behind their computer screen and spew all these words at each other. They forget that they are affecting another person’s life. I have two small kids and I’m planning on having more. I want to show them that it’s okay to be on social media to some extent so long as you don’t lose your humanity in it.

Do you have a system for choosing who to ask out?

Ashley Alford
Ashley Alford

I don’t really have a system per say. I did do a spreadsheet to organize my friends list. I was curious how many people I knew really well, how many people I hadn’t met before and how many people I’d lost touch with. The two longest lists were the people I’d never met before and the people I’d lost touch with. The people that I know really well were probably in the minority.

Do you have any friends who you aren’t sure who they are?

Totally.  For some, I’ve been gathering bits and pieces of information as I go along. I have a few people who from their posts I gather are songwriters down in Nashville.  But that’s kind of the fun of it – by not knowing a person something incredible can come out of it. At the very least, you get to put a face to the name of someone on your friends list.

You mentioned Nashville. How are you doing this with friends in other cities?

For some it will give me a reason to travel to places that aren’t too far away. A couple of my husband’s cousins live in Alberta and a whole bunch of people I know live in Nashville so this gives me a good reason to visit those places.    For others, we’ll have a coffee date by Skype instead. 

With under 300 friends, even if I only met one person a week, it would take me almost seven years to get through my friends list.

What’s been the most challenging aspect so far?

Some of the people I’ve never met before are pretty high profile people so I’ve had to wrap my head around how do I ask these people for coffee?  It was really intimidating to consider this. I had to overcome those fears and push myself to ask regardless of what the answer was going to be. That in itself it a really good exercise to put yourself through.

Have you had any problems scheduling? It’s hard enough getting together with good friends.

Scheduling is tough, but I think your attitude toward it is just as important. One thing I’ve been focusing on is creating the space for things in your life and allowing things to work out from there. I did the math the other day and just with under 300 friends, even if I only met one person a week, it would take me almost seven years to get through my friends list. This is a long project. And, I’m going to get new friends, so my new rule is if you send me a friend request, I don’t accept it without scheduling a coffee date with you. 

See Ashley’s video blog where she gives the rundown of each of her dates.  


Why social media makes us lonely:


The Innovation of Loneliness from Shimi Cohen on Vimeo.  

How do you use social media to bolster your life offline? Leave a comment below.


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