Virtual vs Reality

Virtual vs Reality: the life of a blogger that wants to meet people, because, well being lonely sucks. How my life was enriched by many (non-) bloggers!

Virtual vs Reality

It was more than 2 years ago already that we had our first meetup with some random internet strangers. And with strangers, I really mean strangers! The idea to start meeting fellow bloggers (and non-bloggers) in reality, rather than virtual, came from Amber Tree Leaves.

Virtual vs reality
Virtual vs reality: meeting people

After an evening of some talking online via skype, we agreed that is was a brilliant idea to meet in person. But we reckoned that it would be cool to do this with a bunch of people. We ended up with 14 strangers in a bar in Breda. And it felt right, straight from the start! And we wanted more, much more. Hence, we already had 7 more BENL FIRE meetups to date, with several more in the pipeline for the coming months.


Meeting people online is great, it helps you grow your network of others with the same  interests. It is also easy, with little effort required to get in touch. Yes, it is often anonymous. Guess you do have to develop some sense of trust in each other to feel comfortable to let that anonymity go.

But there is a limit in what you can do online. As a human we are generally (genetically?) wired to need some form of face-to-face interaction. Body language and direct reactions definitely improve a conversation in real life compared to online. It’s also a lot more efficient and makes me feel better at the end of it.

It’s also motivational to speak to others, getting new ideas is critical to enhance your own life and be able to move on when stuck. Plus as an extrovert, it give me energy!


After more than 3 years of blogging and many in person encounters with bloggers (and non-bloggers), I can honestly say that my life is definitely enriched with new friends. The following folks are absolutely awesome, and I hope you have the pleasure of meeting them in the future (in no particular older):

  • Mr ATL (Belgium (Beer) Rules!)
  • Opa Geldnerd (he is not really a grandpa thou, but we like to tease him anyway)
  • Merel & Joost (something with trees…..)
  • Susanna & Aroen (the real estate power couple)
  • Mr FIREME (the “captain”)
  • Big C (he’s a very HOT guy)
  • Meneer (sharp & funny, is the best way to describe this bloke)
  • Lonneke (Spain, beer and a yellow house; a girl with guts for sure!)
  • Peter (the newby blogger with a massive knowledge on pensions, and an allround good guy)
  • Spekvet (this guys is too smart for himself, but I love his attitude!)

Still, there are so many more cool folks I spoke to lately that I love to mention but can’t. Thanks to all for your ongoing support, conversations, wisdom & help! It’s greatly appreciated.

The moral of the story

If you are new to the FIRE community, or any community for that matter, make sure you reach out! Get over that feeling of being vulnerable and take that step to approach new people. How you do this is up to you obviously, but make sure you add some reality to it where possible. People are generally awesome, make sure you experience that in real life too!


  1. Hi Cheesy, it was really nice to meet you in person. You were the first random dude I met from the internet! Hope we’ll have another opportunity soon. The pressure is really on to keep the level of the pension posts high, thanks! Also many thanks for inspiring us to investigate other routes than ETFs. You really sparked a real estate discussion in our household all the best, Peter

  2. I’m also very fond of the online/offline combination. Online just lacks *something*, but offline would be really too much for my introverted personality. I’ve met a few of the people you mentioned, and agree: this tribe is great! Hopefully I’ll meet more of them in Haarlem, next year!

    1. Hey Adine, yeah, for introverts it’s a bit different. Guess the amount of exposure might be less, but great to see that you also value the personal connection!

  3. Greetings from Canada –

    This is great. I think it’s amazing when people move beyond the computer to the “real world”. As an increasingly “connected” society, so much gets lost that can be found with face to face interaction. Good on all of you for making this happen.

    Take care,

  4. Thank you for starting such a nice community. I really like to be part of it and really like all the people i’v Met in the past year thanks to blogging.

  5. I have to say, as an introvert I struggle with this. Most of the time I am just happy to hang in my tree and be left alone. But once in a while I do feel the need to connect with people. And experience has taught me I usually connect the best with ‘weird’ people.

  6. I would agree with this sentiment wholeheartedly. I’ve had the good fortune to meet some of my local friends like Erik from MastermindWithin, Kevin from Financial Panther, and Gwen from Fiery Millenials, among others. It really does help to inspire you to keep at it with blogging. Great ideas, and a good support network.

  7. Hi man, I definitely recall this. Blogging about personal finance can be lonely, especially when you’re anonymous. By reaching out to fellow bloggers you really get this feeling of belonging. I really like that!

  8. Thanks for starting the BENL FIRE meet ups! Albeit being a fullblown introvert, I really like the combination of online and offline. It is wonderful to see what blogging has brought in that aspect. I have met several people that got in touch with me through my blog. I even have welcomed a few in my yellow house already 🙂

    1. I’m glad we met through our mutual blogging and the meetups! Also very happy that it has brought you good experiences both online and offline.
      Enjoy the yellow house 😉

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