When I first moved to California, and long before the days of COVID-19, I would go to any part of the Bay Area, at any time, to do (almost!) anything with anyone.
The only stipulations were that we had to have some kind of rapport and I had to feel safe. But otherwise? Totally fair game.
The project was simple: become the person people call when no one else picks up.
A lot of folks ask me how I had the patience and energy for this. How could I have unlimited bandwidth for strangers? The really simple answer is I don’t know. These days, I’m not sure if I do have the energy for it anymore.
But from August 2019 to February 2020, “DMs open” was a very real offer. If you were sad, or lonely, or just wanted someone to shoot the shit with, I was available.
Not every meeting turned into a friendship or a lasting correspondence. Sometimes plans fell through, dinner plans postponed indefinitely. Sometimes it was on me, sometimes it was on them. Sometimes I hurt people’s feelings and sometimes people hurt mine. Just the natural ebb and flow of relationships. But I gave everyone a chance as much as I was able to give everyone a chance. And lots of people gave me a chance, too.
If I had to put a number on it, I’d say I made in the neighborhood of twenty friends using this approach. Five or six close friends. Plenty of acquaintances. Tons of people who linger in the space between “I like you a lot,” and “the timing just hasn’t been right yet.” And as these things go, even a few people who would have liked me more had we never met.
It was a fun, albeit short-lived, experiment. I both don’t regret it and wouldn’t attempt something of this scale again. And since we’re in SV, I should also say: I also don’t think this is something that can or should be monetized, turned into a brand or an app, or transmuted into a formal community.
Anyway, that’s what “default friend” means. In some ways, it’s living your life like it’s an improv show.
It’s responding to every offer with a, “Yes, and…”