If you had to guess how many of your Facebook friends you know in real life, what would the number be? It's definitely not all of them, so one man is determined to change that.
Matthew Kulesza has embarked on an anxiety-inducing tour of his 1,088 Facebook friends for coffee dates. The 28-year-old Australian digital strategist is chronicling the social experiment on his Tumblr, 1,000+ Coffees and, obviously, on Facebook.
Kulesza described the three-year plan as an "exercise in remembering to socialize with and get to know people outside of the 'book. In an interview with news.com.au, he admitted that he "obviously" doesn't know all 1,000 friends so he reasoned this would be a good excuse to change that.
"The point of the project is to see who these people actually are and get to know them," he said. "It's amazing to see how interesting everyone can be if you make the effort and reach out. Everyone has incredible stories to tell."
Although that sounds like sly advertising for Starbucks, Kulesza is making good with his promise and posting a recap of each "date" on Tumblr. He's collected these friends through mutual friends, while traveling or via work and romantic partners.
Since starting the project in September, Kulesza has gone on 26 coffee dates. His recaps are earnest, nostalgic and inspiring. Here's an example:
This morning I rode out to East Brunswick to have coffee with one of the funniest, wittiest and often inappropriate (in the best possible way) people I've had the pleasure of knowing and working with over the years, 'Mia Oopsididitagain Haberdashery-Jones.'
Mia and I worked together at an izakaya in Melbourne in 2011, I worked in the saké bar and she worked as a chef in the kitchen. Maria makes me laugh harder than almost anyone I know and I've got countless hilarious memories of the two of us having knock-off drinks after work talking about absolutely everything and anything. She's got a very quick and dark sense of humour, which I love. I remember one particular discussion we had on 'how to dispose of a dead body without getting caught' and Mia seriously looking me in the eye and earnestly assuring me "...if you ever get into any trouble, call me, no questions asked... We'll deal with the issue together." What a great friend!
Social network, IRL: Kulesza told BuzzFeed that what you see with the project is what you get. There's no ulterior motive with his meet and greet — it's just an excuse to make new, well, better, friends that Facebook has connected him with.
"Unfortunately [there's] no real deep meaning behind the project apart from being genuinely interested in people and wanting to spend time getting to know people outside of the way we present ourselves online," he said. "Putting the 'social' back in 'social media.'"
He has a point. The idea that social networks are bringing us together isn't totally true: Instead of connecting or socializing, we're staring at these bright boxes in place of getting out there and meeting people.
Perhaps we should all follow Kulesza's lead and put the social back in social media.