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From Strangers to Buddies

Quarantine and social distancing have made meeting new people pretty difficult. I am energized by meeting and learning about new people I come across on travels near or far, but not being able to leave home does not care to comply. In the beginning, and much to my chagrin, social media had been the closest connection to people during the time of COVID-19, but this has proved to be a gift. My favorite influential group is known as Yes Theory, and they posted about the launch of a “Yes Buddy” project. This project would be launched on Discord, a platform I haven’t used prior, and the goal is to pair two completely random strangers together. I immediately looked into creating a Discord so I could safely meet a friend who could be from anywhere in the world. 

My first buddy made me so excited. I messaged their account and waited for a response. I waited for two days then hit them with the infamous double-message. Still nothing. I tried to report that I was ghosted by my buddy (I know… sad.), but I was alerted that I could not be given a new buddy for at least a week, and to give my pairing more of a chance. The week passed, and no, my buddy did not suddenly answer.

I was matched with a second buddy. This time, thankfully, my buddy was answering me. We began asking and answering the questions that are provided with the project. This experience was much better than the first go-around, but the conversations fizzled quickly, and my buddy and I did not have much of a connection. Eventually, we just stopped talking altogether. I decided to try to find yet another buddy. I reached out to the main chat (if that is even the proper Discord terminology), and I asked if anyone would be interested in a second buddy. I received a few responses, but only one buddy really stuck, and that buddy was Wes.

Wes told me that he lives in Egypt, which is quite a trek from my home in New Jersey. He had the same problem with the buddies he was assigned, and he said he almost did not reach out to me because he was afraid I would not want to talk to him. I am so glad he did not listen to this fear because he proved to be the best buddy I could have wanted. He taught me all about his culture, and I have even learned a few Arabic phrases. I have shared my writing with him, and he has shown me how incredibly talented he is with graphic design.

To this day, now two months later, Wes and I try to talk every day. We still have not gotten through all of the “Yes Buddy” questions because we end up spending hours, and sometimes days, on a single question. He has genuinely become one of the greatest friends I have ever known, and I hope one day we can meet in person! 

I recommend this project to anyone looking to connect with others. Without this project, I likely never would have crossed paths with Wes, and I am grateful we both took the chance to speak with like-minded strangers. I believe that William Butler Yeats said it best, “There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.” Wes began as a stranger, living on a different continent, but he quickly became a friend I hope to have for the rest of my life.

Photo by Amy Humphries

The COVID-19 pandemic has made much of our daily lives very different, but we are lucky to live in a world of so much connection. I definitely recommend taking advantage of the world that waits at your fingertips! 

Hi! My name is Alyssa Houlis, and I am a senior English major with a business minor. I have enjoyed my studies at URI for all of the opportunities I get to write and explore the lovely language that is English. I am excited to see what opportunities will present themselves once I graduate from lil' Rhody! In my free time, you will probably catch me hugging a tree, painting, or skating!
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