Winnetka woman on quest to meet her 300-plus Facebook friends this year
By KIMBERLY FORNEK Sun-Times Media firstname.lastname@example.org February 23, 2011 8:53AM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
ArLynn Leiber Presser of Winnetka is on a quest to discover once and for all if an online friend is a true friend.
Presser plans to meet face-to-face with each of her Facebook friends this year — all 335 of them.
“It’s doable, (but) it’s going to take an enormous amount of dedication on my part,” said Presser, an author and former attorney. “I cannot let up.”
Among her online friends are “people who I went to high school or college with, friends of friends, someone I met once at a wedding and we had a wonderful conversation.”
“About one-fourth of my friends are people I never met,” Presser said, such as six people with whom she plays online Scrabble.
She’s already met with 40 friends, and hopes to boost her total to 60 by the end of the month.
The include her sons and some neighbors and relatives, so some meetings will be easy to accomplish.
“Even in a town as small as Winnetka, you’re friends with someone, but if you don’t make the time, you realize it has been six months since you talked to them,” said Presser, who has lived in Winnetka 18 years.
Getting together with friends who live out of state is more difficult. So Presser prepared for her odyssey practically.
“I had to figure out the logistics. Where do all these people live? I had to sit down with an Excel spreadsheet. This is where these people are, this is where the (nearest) hub airport is.” Presser hopes to see several Facebook friends on each trip she takes. “It is just a matter of figuring out hubs.”
About 30 of her Facebook friends live outside the country. The day after she posted an online video explaining her Face-to-Facebook plan, friends who live in the Philippines sent her a picture of a roasted pig.
“They said, ‘we can’t wait until you get to the Philippines. We are going to have a big feast when you show up.’”
Presser is single, which affords her some flexibility. But one obstacle she has to overcome is her own anxieties.
“This project is forcing me to push boundaries, to get over a fear of travel and a fear of flying.”
At times, Presser said she has been “tremendously scared, tremendously insecure.” One of her Facebook friends is a hypnotist who helped her cope with the fear of flying.
“The most wonderful thing about this is I am 50 years old. My kids are out of the house, there is no reason not to travel.”
Like the folks in the Philippines, some friends are excited about Presser’s visit and want to do something special. Friends who live in Huntsville, Ala., proposed they go skydiving together.
“I don’t see how I can be scared of anything after that,” said Presser, who plans to tick off that adventure this spring.
As happens in the online world, Presser’s project has snowballed. Publicity, most recently from a Brazilian newspaper, has brought more than 1,400 new friends to her site, with 999 friendship requests waiting.
“I don’t think I can add more friends,” she said Monday.
To keep tabs on Presser’s progress, read her blog at http://arlynnpresser.wordpress.com. She also writes romance novels under the pseudonym Vivian Leiber.