Facebook likes to give its users friend suggestions, and while most people ignore these suggestions, one Belgian student traveled miles to Austin, Texas, to meet a stranger because the social network suggested that they become friends.
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So Victor looked through Neal Retke‘s pictures, and he became interested in the artist’s life. Neal had a long beard and a unique look. He painted mythical creatures and strange beasts, which only made Victor more interested in him.
Victor decided he wanted to meet Neal. He tried to contact him through Facebook, but he did not receive a response. He decided to fly over to meet Neal and ask him to be his friend.
It is easy to make friends through social media. You just have to click a button and wait for a response. Victor wanted to make it more real, and that’s why he wanted to go on the 5,000-mile trip. Going along with him was his friend Bran Van Lee.
Once they arrived in Austin, they spent a week looking for Neal. They put up posters that stated, “Do you know or have you seen this man? Facebook said we could be friends. Please help!” The duo also wore T-shirts with the words “Neal D Retke for President” printed on them.
They went to places that they knew Neal liked to frequent, and eventually, they found someone who knew him. Neal’s friend told them they could find Neal at a book signing, and it was there that Victor finally met the stranger he longed to meet.
On meeting Neal, Victor says, “We were nervous when we first saw him. We didn’t know how he would react, but after we explained the whole thing he just laughed and said, ‘Well, you found me,’ as if he was expecting us.”
Facebook was right in suggesting that they be friends. Victor and Neal hit it off and spent three weeks having a great time together. Victor and Neal are in touch through Facebook, and Neal might go over and visit the student next summer.
Once they got back to Belgium, Victor and Bran turned their video footage into a short documentary that you can watch on Vimeo. It’s a great story of how social media has affected how we are able to meet friends using technology.