Long-distance friendships are tricky. You can't just decide to meet up in 20 minutes at the mall. Finding time to chat can get hectic, especially if you're in other time zones.
That's why the internet can be so wonderful. My best friend lives five hours away, but we can stay connected 24/7 through social media and texting. The other nice thing about social media is that you can meet people across the world you wouldn't have met otherwise. I've met people in different cities, and even countries, who I consider good friends of mine, even though we've never met. It's almost nicer this way, because you get to know someone based strictly on their personality and nothing else.
For Spencer Sleyon, he met his newest friend playing the online game "Words With Friends", and it's taking the internet by storm.
Sleyon was randomly matched with someone to start a game of virtual Scrabble, when his anonymous partner used the word "phat", a slang term for cool.
"I was like, yo, how do you know that word?" Sleyon recalled. “From day one I knew I was playing an old white woman."
His partner, Rosalind "Roz" Guttman, ended up becoming a close friend, even though they had never met face to face. Sleyon would tell his friends about their friendship, and eventually his pastor got wind. Amy Butler, a pastor at the Riverside Church, wanted to write a sermon on the bond between Roz and Spencer, but then realized there was a way to make it even better.
Butler arranged for Sleyon to travel to Florida, accompanied by her, to meet his unlikely friend.
She’s 86 & lives in a retirement community in Florida. He’s 22 and lives in Harlem. They met online playing #wordswithfriends. Tomorrow they’ll meet in person. I get to be there. #relationshipschangeus pic.twitter.com/xNJjK3ga6H— Amy Butler (@PastorAmyTRC) December 1, 2017
Sleyon jumped at the chance to meet Roz, and when they finally saw each other in person, their reactions were amazing.
"So last summer i randomly met this 80 y/o woman on ["Words with Friends]. We played 300+ games together and she actually ended up becoming a good friend of mine. Today i got to go to Florida and meet her in person," Sleyon posted on Twitter.
Sleyon was quick to point out that Roz was much younger than Butler originally mentioned.
also roz is 81* my bad— High Class Filth (@Filth800) December 3, 2017
He also made it clear that in no way was Roz outplaying him in the game.
and to clear the air, she was not crushing me boy don’t play with me pic.twitter.com/FcESsdO097— High Class Filth (@Filth800) December 2, 2017
The story of Roz and Spencer's friendship has been seen over one million times, and Butler is hoping it can inspire others.
“We’re living in a country divided by fear of the other, and people are longing for ways to connect," she said. "This story has two unlikely people becoming friends. It’s very beautiful and hopeful.”