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proper care and feeding of online friends October 15, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Wasting Time.
Tags: , , ,

If you’re anything like me, there’s one person you talk to pretty much all day at work via some sort of electronic communication system. If your office disallows IMs, it might be on the Gmail/GTalk web interface, or even via texting, but you do it. Talking to a friend helps keep you sane and it gives you a place to send funny links you stumble over in your daily goofing-off.

cc-licensed photo by Kennedy Garrett

cc-licensed photo by Kennedy Garrett

But what happens when that person goes on vacation?

Last Thursday, my friend Loco, who is the beneficiary of all of my links, random thoughts, complaints, and moments of zen, told me he was taking a long weekend off — Friday through Monday. When you go on vacation from work, you always draft e-mails to people who are going to fill in for you. Well, Loco CC’d me on this e-mail:

TO: Aaron Larson
FR: Loco Moci
CC: That Guy
SUBJ: Proper Care and Feeding of Online Friends


As I will be out of the office tomorrow and Monday, I am delegating you to fill in for me as That Guy’s designated online friend. Please feel free to send him any links that interest you, being careful to note their SFW or NSFW status.

I also recommend you prepare stock responses to his daily spate of complaints about boredom, exhaustion, daily drudgery, and relationship woes.

Thanks in advance for your help. Please call me at 310-555-5626 if anything comes up that you need my input on.

Loco Moci
PHP Developer
SmallCompany Enterprises

Needless to say, all of us had a good laugh. But it does bring up an important set of rules: the care and feeding of your online friends. To wit:

  1. Be sure to warn your online buddy of your absences. Your sudden disappearance may shock and depress him/her, and you will likely receive e-mails and/or text messages becoming increasingly frantic in nature.
  2. Provide alternate means of entertainment. Recommendations include a witty friend, a laser pointer, or a TotalFark subscription.
  3. Extend a helping hand. Online buddies generally share one or more career aspects — for example, computer programmers, accountants, or administrative assistants. Tell your online buddy that you will be available in case of emergencies, especially if you are in the process of helping him/her with a particularly knotty problem.
  4. Remember your substitute buddy may not have the same comfort level as you. One man’s nipple slip is another man’s affront to humanity — or, worse, it could land both you and your substitute buddy in a sexual harassment/appropriateness class, courtesy of HR.
  5. Stay in contact. Drop your online buddy a quick e-mail just to see what’s up. It’s very reassuring.

If these rules are not followed carefully, your online buddy may experience unacceptable levels of productivity.

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1. did you get me anything? « corporatespeak - October 30, 2009

[…] if they can. From Ari, who went to Siberia, I got one of Moscow; from my friend Loco (referenced here), I got a postcard from Germany that incorporated a mass-transit station because he couldn’t […]

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