An unlikely friendship that formed between a 22-year-old man and an 80-year-old woman has broken the internet with its wholesomeness.
After playing more that 300 games together on Words With Friends, Spencer Sleyon and his opponent Rosalind met IRL in Florida on Friday. It was visible proof that strangers on the internet that come from completely different walks of life with different views can make a positive impact on each other and the world.
While their friendship is heartwarming in itself, their interaction has made a positive impact on countless people — a little bit of hope for the internet which is typically filled with trolling, hate, arguments, and digital pitchforks. After meeting up, Sleyon tweeted his story with some photos, which has since racked up more than 1 million likes.
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? pic.twitter.com/VXDbNS4eUo
— half-empty (@half___empty) December 1, 2017
Reached by phone on Monday, Sleyon, who is from Maryland but now resides in East Harlem, explained how a simple game of Words With Friends turned into a heartwarming story heard around the word.
Sleyon installed the app (which is basically a Scrabble ripoff that lets you play with your friends) in June of 2016. But that app also has a random matchmaking feature, which allows you to play with another lonely word nerd.
Sleyon matched with 80-year-old Rosalind, who lives in Florida, and the two played back and forth for a bit. After a game is finished, you can choose to rematch with the same person, and the two continued their game of Words. The app also has a chat feature, and Sleyon says that two eventually made contact.
“We used to chat, but nothing too personal. We never got too personal,” he said.
The two played until December of 2016, and then Sleyon got busy, so he says he uninstalled the app. He later moved to New York City, and started hanging out with his friend Hannah Butler. Her mother, Amy Butler is a pastor at Riverside Church in Manhattan, and she became interested in the story, and wanted to write a sermon on the story for her church.
So Sleyon re-installed the app, and Rosalind was still there, waiting to play some Words with her old opponent.
“The crazy thing was how on and off it was,” Sleyon explained, noting that the two had a huge break in their gaming spree.
After reaching out to Rosalind and giving the sermon, Pastor Amy decided to do something special, and arranged for the two to meet in Florida, funded by the church. Sleyon and Amy hopped on a plane on Thursday, and were set to meet with Rosalind on Friday. When Sleyon left his hotel room to meet up Friday morning, he had no idea that Rosalind was waiting in the hotel lobby. Pastor Amy was ready though, and snapped this photo of the two meeting for the first time.
“I’d never spoken to her or heard her voice,” Sleyon said. “She was spunky, witty, full of life.”
The two hung out all day, had some lunch and saw some of the sights in West Palm Beach, including Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
“I gave it the finger,” Sleyon said with a laugh. As you probably guessed, he leans left, while Rosalind is more conservative.
“In 2016 I thought we were on the same page [politically] but I learned later that she was not. I put that past me because I knew Rosalind before her political views and I wasn’t gonna let that change [us],” Sleyon said when asked about their political differences.
While two opposites befriending each other at a time of political turmoil in the United States, Sleyon says that their meeting was not focused around politics, and their political differences should not be the main takeaway.
Additionally, some reports claimed that Sleyon did not know Rosalind was an older white woman. He set the record straight, saying, “I knew I was playing an old white woman. I knew.”
Before taking off on the plane Sleyon tweeted a his story along with some photos. As he flew back to New York, the story started to take off, but he wasn’t aware until he landed.
“Before I took off it had 200 likes. When we landed and I got service again it had 17,000 likes. I said to Amy, ‘I think we just went viral.'”
Though their meeting was short, it clearly left a lasting impression, and the two have since become Facebook friends, and continue to play Words with Friends with each other. Sleyon described the experience as “10 out of 10” and seemed genuinely happy the two had the opportunity to hang out for the day.
As for the competition though, Sleyon wanted to make it clear that he was clearly the better player.
“Is that even a question? It was me full blown. Don’t get me wrong, she is nice.”