As a typical Facebook user knows, out of our (on average) several hundred "friends," often only a handful are "real" friends regularly seen face-to-face.
Mikel McLaughlin has set out to change that.
The 35-year-old set out in a red Volkswagen Beetle on a journey to spend time with each of his 400-plus Facebook friends ... some for the first time ever.
McLaughlin is documenting the social-media-meets-real-world adventure on his website We're Friends, Right? He posts photos of his friends like this one:
"I recognized that I had many Facebook friends with which I had little-to-no actual relationship. I wanted to change that, or at least see if it was possible to do so."
"I feel that having a closer relationship with a person helps me to be better. It's easy to belittle, berate and dismiss somebody with which you have no relationship."
"But when you spend time at their dinner table, play games with their kids, and hear about their lives, it's a little bit more difficult to be unkind and uncaring toward them."
So far, he has made it through roughly a third of his Facebook list of 400-plus, with only 25 percent being folks he already considered real-life friends.
After each meetup, McLaughlin writes a short summary of the day with his "friend" outside the Web, keeping their names private and using only initials.
Ranging from awkward to adorable, many of these encounters consist of simply sharing a meal and a conversation. McLaughlin says it's been worthwhile:
"Just about every time I meet with a Facebook friend, my interaction with them is my new most memorable visit, at least until I meet up with the next Facebook friend."
McLaughlin has no set timeline for his experiment, explaining that he is more focused on the quality of the visits, not the quantity or speed involved.
Back home in Minnesota for now, he plans to spend time getting together with local Facebook friends before hitting the road once more. We wish him luck.
Life is bigger than Facebook, after all ...