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Woman’s quest to overcome fears through Facebook journey documented by filmmaker

At the start of 2010, ArLynn Presser from Winnetka, Illinois made a New Year’s resolution to meet all of her Facebook friends before the year was out.

Having 325 friends on the social networking site meant that such a feat would be in the realm of possibility, though by no means easy. In fact, for 51-year-old ArLynn, it wouldn’t be easy at all.

Suffering from agoraphobia, she had hardly been outside her home in 30 years. However, she was determined to take on the self-imposed challenge and travel the world to meet people she had only ever communicated with online.

Halfway through the year, she met Facebook friend 140, filmmaker Ben Gonzales. He immediately thought ArLynn’s adventure would make a compelling documentary and proposed the idea to her. She agreed.

Having come in halfway through her quest, Gonzales had obviously missed many of ArLynn’s meetings, but luckily for him she’d been using a basic video camera to document them. Budget constraints prevented Gonzales from following her to many of the countries she went on to visit, so he asked her son Joseph, who was accompanying her on her trip, to film with an HD camera.

ArLynn’s challenging journey has taken her to 13 countries, including South Korea, India and England, and so far she’s met 288 of her Facebook friends.

Along the way she did a number of things she could never have imagined just a few months before, like taking opera singing lessons and even learning how to be a bodyguard.

Despite some ‘friends’ unfriending her when hearing of her idea, the vast majority were happy to meet. “Most people have been incredibly welcoming,” she told the Vancouver Sun. Two of her Facebook friends were animals—she met them too, of course.

With ArLynn still on her quest to meet all of her friends, Gonzales’ documentary, Face to Facebook, is still in production.

Looking at the footage he’s gathered so far, the filmmaker is confident he’s captured something special. “It’s hard not to get emotionally involved in the story,” he said. “It’s great to see her growth, her journey, her transformation….it’s quite remarkable.” Gonzales hopes the movie (trailer below) will be completed in the coming months.

If given the opportunity, would you relish the opportunity to meet all your Facebook friends face to face, or would you rather keep the meeting place online?