hal tweets ·11:28 AM

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So It Happened Like This…

Posted by Hal

Last night I held my “Hal Needs New Friends“ Event at the Rhino Bar on Queen Street, downtown West, Toronto. I invited everyone who reads this blog (normally between 20 and 50 people a day, some new, some returning readers), all the people who are friends with me on Facebook who I have never met (around 600 people), and everyone who follows me on Twitter (20 people) to drop by, take a short quiz on my life, and have a drink on me. So how many people took me up on the offer?


One person came by the Rhino.

That one person was a very fun, interesting person and it was great to meet her. But, uh, still. One? On my Facebook event page 14 people said they were coming. Two messaged me the day of and said they couldn’t make it. The rest just didn’t show up. 60 people said they were maybe coming. Turns out they meant: Maybe not.

Paula came. Paula took the quiz. Paula got a 5 out of 9 on the quiz. She didn’t know the name of my favourite restaurant, and she couldn’t answer the question: Hal often argues with his __________. She checked “Don’t Know” to the questions “Has Hal ever had a one night stand?” and “Does Hal write about his pet cat Yoda on his blog?” However, she correctly entered waydowntown as one of my favourite movies, correctly named two of my hobbies, she knew I was married, and she knew the name of one of my books.

My prospective new friend works in corporate communications, plays soccer, and likes to try new things and meet new people. She seems like a cool person. She drank a Tom Collins and stayed and talked to me for an hour or so before heading of. Thanks for coming Paula!

So what to make of this? On the computer, I’m a real swinging guy. Almost everyday someone I’ve never met adds me as a Facebook friend or decides to follow me on Twitter or reads this blog. But, apparently, that popularity doesn’t transfer over to real life interactions. I’m a winner online but a loser in real life? It doesn’t make sense.

I’ll think more on this, and would love your input. In the meantime, I’m going to get in touch with all the people who said they were coming or maybe coming and find out what they did that night instead. I’m not mad or anything. I just want to know why you want to be my “friend” online, but not in real life. I mean, one new friend is probably a pretty good result for any evening out. But still…I had a party and one person came. As for everyone else: It’s too bad. I would have loved to have met ya.

Hal Needs New Friend Photo Essay (courtesy of Adam Smith)

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I’m waiting for the party start!

So where is everyone?

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A potential friend!

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Hal and his new pal Paula bond

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Hal drinks one last beer: a Young’s Double Chocolate Stout — bittersweet…

Hal heads home.


There are -11- Comments.

1 count

I never commented that I would come because I knew I couldn’t; Newfoundland to Ontario is quite the drive. :D You have my empathy for the not-so-hot response to your Meet Hal party.

All I can think of for why people said they would come but didn’t is they feel the online connection with you doesn’t justify meeting you in person. For me, yes, I thought that, but would you expect a stranger to drive 3 days to see someone you only know from reading his blog? (It would’ve been a great story though.)Meeting you would make you “real” and they would have an emotional connection which brings in all that emotional baggage like guilt (for not following Twitter, skipping your blog a few times, etc.).

2 count

Dude, you told us not to come if we already knew you <span class=“caps”>IRL</span>. We were gonna come; we live 2 blocks from Rhino. Instead we stayed home and watched So You Think You Can Dance.

3 count

i was going to come, but the i remembered i don’t live in toronto

4 count

You know why I didn’t come… ‘cause I wouldn’t have been a “new” friend.

but wow, one person. I guess that’s all you can expect. When I was in a band and I’d invite my real friends to come see us play I was lucky when three people I knew actually came, even though many would say “attending” on facebook.

5 count

oh yea, and that photo essay reminds me of when Bellini went to visit the winner of the “touch Paul Bellini” contest on Kids in the Hall.

6 count

Hal I woulda been there – but I’ve already met you and that’s why I didn’t rsvp a ‘yes’ to your event!  You and that nice chap you wrote that almanac with came to the <span class=“caps”>CBC</span> in Calgary many years ago and I interviewed you.  We would be pals, share parenting tips, our spouses would be pals, etc. if we lived there…but sadly, we live in the west.  Our loss!  To those who haven’t met Hal, definitely make an effort next time. 

Lindsay, I like your comparison to “touch Paul Bellini”.  For me it was a cross between that and what I’d imagine many of Larry David’s scrapbooks to look like (cause I’m <span class=“caps”>SURE</span> Larry David’s into scrapbooking) – it’s the hand gestures.

7 count
Mason Wright

Kudos on the interesting experiment! I stumbled across the event on FB and although I know you by reputation, this is my first visit to your blog. I’m certain we have many mutual friends, but I haven’t added you virtually (yet).

I probably have at least 25 Facebook friends I’ve met fewer than two times, but to me part of the appeal of FB, Twitter, etc. is the sense of community they help foster. Whether or not I see my “friends” in real life, I can always catch up on what they are up to and feel as though I belong in a network of fellow citizens. Plus I love being able to see photos of my infant nephew, who lives on the west coast.

Lately I have been on my bike or around town, seen friends or acquaintances and chosen not to say hello. This is partly because I dislike small talk, but I suspect social networking sites have made chit-chat redundant. It’s a habit I’m trying to break, so if you’re reading this and you see me around town, feel free to say hi!

Thanks again, Hal, for the conversation-starter.

8 count

hi hal,

you look so sad and lonely until your new friend shows up.  we san franciscans would have been there, had it been an easy commute.  know it! believe it!

and, would you please make sure to join the group City Lights Bookstore on facebook, as that’s the only way that we can connect there. businesses aren’t allowed to have profiles on facebook, just groups for groupies.


9 count
Celia Tucker

Hey Hal,

like the others said, a six hour drive for a free drink? hmmm…nope, not so worth it. But, you already know me so I wouldn’t be new.  On the other hand, we were never really friends were we? So I could’ve been a new friend right? Something to think about. After reading an excerpt in your book about your so called camp friends I don’t think I want to be fodder for a new book. Or maybe it’s that I just don’t meet lonely looking married men in bars.

10 count

hmm! i have to say that the result of this experiment surprised me. maybe everyone and their brother has social anxiety.

i was considering coming, but i live out of town.

PS. apparently i can’t see well enough to pass the image verification test easily.

11 count

I was also under the impression that “old friends” (ie people you already know) weren’t supposed to come. I went out and watched Wall-E instead. It was good.

Totally surprised that only one person showed up… at least she seems normal/cool…

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The Bloggist

Hey, I’m Hal Niedzviecki. I’m a writer/thinker who lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with my wife and daughter. Up till now I’ve always considered myself a private person. But at the same time I’m fascinated by people who effortlessly open themselves up to the whole world. So I’ve… more...



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