Why is it Hard to “Friend” Someone in Person?

My daughters were playing happily at the playground. They started to play with two other kids around their age, and their mom and I struck up a conversation. We ended up talking for a while and it turned out that we had a lot in common. In the back of my mind, I thought, Wow, I really like this girl and it seems like our husbands and kids would get along too. Hey, we should hang out again! …But then, when faced with the reality of how I would actually exchange contact information with her, I had visions of an awkward interaction in which I would have to ask her, first, if she wanted to exchange information, then if she could spell her name and number for me while I entered them in my phone. Then I would send her a text with something like “Hi it’s Isabelle” so that she would have my name and could enter it on her end later…

With our kids getting cranky and ready to leave, it seemed like this whole process would take a while, so I ended up leaving without getting her number. Really, I asked myself, why, with all of the messaging and social media apps available to us, is it so hard to “friend” someone in person?

Sure, it’s not that hard to ask someone a few questions and send a quick text message. I could’ve, should’ve done that. However, somehow it seemed just complicated enough that I didn’t. And I have a hunch that if I had had an easy way to give that mom on the playground my contact information in an instant, without asking a lot of questions and doing a lot of data entry, I would have used it, and maybe I would have made a new friend.

Part of my hesitation probably stemmed from the fact that there is no standard way to exchange contact information in a social setting. In a business meeting, you are pretty safe pulling out a business card, and handing it to someone is easy and frictionless. It doesn’t require any questions or negotiation about who will text whom etc. However, in a social setting, the call or text exchange is your best bet, and the process is a bit messy. Alternatively, you could try to connect on social media, but finding a preferred network that both of you use might be tricky. It’s almost easier to look someone up on Facebook or LinkedIn after the fact and send them a request to connect.

Wouldn’t it be great if we each had something like an old-fashioned calling card that we could easily share, except it would be enabled with cool digital features? Some people have personal contact cards printed. I met a couple at a group dinner once who handed out printed cards with both of their names and email addresses on them. They gave me one, and I can definitely see the appeal.

Whether you’re a single at a bar or a mom on the playground, it’s hard enough to ask the question, “would you like to hang out again?” So the actual exchange of contact information has to be really easy. As part of the team building Convey, I am admittedly a bit biased. But part of my motivation is personal. I think we need new technological innovations that make it easier to connect in person.

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