How to Win Friends (or not)

Having a boot-and-leather oriented website and blog (this one), it is not unusual to receive messages from people who see the website or blog.  However, contrary to popular belief, I don’t get that many messages from people I don’t know.  That’s despite having an average of over 2,500 unique visitors to one or more pages on my website each day, or over 500 daily visitors to this blog.  The vast majority of visitors reach my website and blog through the use of search engines like Google.  Some, however, have found it via links from my YouTube Channel, or links from profiles on hotboots.com, recon.com, and a few other places.  To be honest, I forget where I’ve linked it over the past five years.

Anyway, a way to “win friends,” or to build a friendship with me is to communicate in a sane and rational manner.  Sure, like anyone else, I appreciate compliments, but I am not seeking praise nor expect it in order to make a friendship.  What I look for is normal communication that demonstrates respect, kindness, and intelligence.  I admit, grammar and spelling is important to me.  If someone cannot spell (and English is their primary language), then it tells me something.  A typo or two is forgivable.  Writing to me in “text-speak” with all those abbreviations is not.  Email is a form of written communication — like a letter — and isn’t a text message.  Learn the difference!

I understand that a number of my visitors live in countries where English is not primary, yet they try to communicate with me in English as best they can.  I am very understanding about that, and accept that nuances of American English are not well understood, and are not handled well by on-line translators.

I will give three examples — two good and one bad — of some recent contacts.

1.  A guy from New England who rides a Harley contacted me.  He had been reading my blog, and sent me a message describing his interest in riding Harleys, told me about the boots he likes to wear when riding (and thanked me for information about the boots that he found on my website), and gave me some suggestions on riding in the Canadian Maritimes about which I had posted on my blog a desire to ride sometime.  He was cordial, friendly, and normal.  His message was describing his interests and talked about some of mine, as well as helped me pursue one of my motorcycle touring interests.  We have subsequently exchanged dozens of email messages about a variety of topics.  He’s straight, I’m gay — so what?  With his permission, I posted a couple of his messages recently as a “guest blog.”

2.  “LC” contacted me through my website complimenting me on it, but also describing his interests in leather.  His message was brief, but well-written.  We began a conversation and I was pleased to take him on a motorcycle ride recently.  What led to our getting together was an exchange of email that indicated to me that he was safe, normal, intelligent, and that we share some common interests.  Yeah, we’re both gay and we both really like leather, so there’s the beginning of the conversation, but not the end to it.

3.  The bad example is a recent one, that said, “Hello Dear how are you? you have great pics, love all your boots I would like to be your partner just to have you wearing those boots 24/7, I am 34 very handsome and masculine Italian looking, I am serious i really want to be you please let me know?”   As I was reading the message, I was asking myself, “is this guy nuts?”  Right out-of-the-blue, he’s proposing partnership.  He wrote with incomplete sentences — he wants to “be me” or “wants to be you(r partner)?”  Huh?  I just delete messages like this.

Let me assure you, I seldom get messages like that, but I do… sometimes, and into the electronic “trash” they go.

I try to answer all legitimate messages that I get.  I like to make friends, and talk about mutual interests.  I don’t care if you’re gay or straight or ride a motorcycle or not… what I care about is that you’re normal, safe, sane, and can carry your half of a written conversation.

I am pleased to have developed some wonderful friendships by starting off with an email exchange.  My friends, “AZ”, Kevin, Clay, Bama-David, “John Smith”, Steve, and some others initiated friendships with me that way.  My life is much better with them in it.  We enjoy our frequent email contact, and occasional chances to see each other in person when travels permit.

So in summary, communicate well, and you’ll win friends.  Make off-the-wall proposals, and you won’t.

Life is short:  communicate.