Friday, February 3, 2012

Hanging With My Hangout Homies Fo Real

About two weeks ago I wrote what turned out to be a very popular column. Following a long Google Plus hangout, one that dragged on into the wee hours of the morning, I had an epiphany about these multiparty video chat sessions. In Confessions Of A Hangout Junkie I admitted I had become addicted.

No matter what time or day of the week, there were always hangouts and resisting the temptation to join was becoming increasingly difficult. So many people to hang with and so little time. What was it about this technology that drew you into such a deep and almost intimate relationship so quickly. We have all become such good friends and are so comfortable with one another, yet we have never actually met in person.

Until now. The New York City Hangout In Real Life (NYC HIRL) is in full swing.

Today I will meet many of the people who have only been video images on my monitor and voices from my speakers. This may be the final test to see if indeed, true and honest friendships have been forged without the benefit of a handshake or a hug. My guess, based on what I have heard of other events like this one that have been conducted elsewhere around the country, is there will be a few handshakes, but many hugs and perhaps even a kiss or two. There are so many reports of people meeting for the fist time yet feeling as if they have been friends all their lives.

I am genuinely excited about meeting my hangout buddies today. In fact, I was anxious all yesterday afternoon and restless all last night just knowing that some of them were already together. I felt like I was genuinely missing out. Photos had been posted but they only heightened the frustration of not being there.

A group of roughly 70 people have come from other countries including Austria and Canada, and several states such as Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Florida.and California.

We're going to get a tour of Google's offices in Manhattan and see a concert featuring three very talented artists who have become well known as a result of their performances in hangouts!

More activities are planned for tomorrow including a photo walk from the Brooklyn Bridge to Ground Zero, a flash mob (time and place is secret) and a grand Saturday evening dinner.

There is a certain irony in how Facebook allowed people who previously knew each other to maintain their relationship electronically, while Google Plus has fostered an enormous number of new relationships, resulting in events designed to bring these people together for the first time.

I'll let you know how all these events turn out today and tomorrow, and if future hangouts still have the same feel now that we've actually been together.

Captain Joe

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