It all started with the word “p-h-a-t.”
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The friendship between an 81-year-old retiree and a 22-year-old aspiring rapper all began with the word “p-h-a-t.”
Rosalind “Roz” Guttman, a retiree from Florida, played the word on one of her favorite apps, Words With Friends, and was promptly matched with Spencer Sleyon, a young hip-hop producer who was living in Maryland at the time.
“I was like, yo, how do you know that word?” Spencer asked Roz in a message.
The two started chatting. They developed a light-hearted rivalry. When their game was over, they played another. Then another. Soon, they’d played 324 games together, while messaging back and forth, developing a friendship.
In one of their conversations, Spencer told Roz he wanted to move from Maryland to New York to pursue his rap career. Roz encouraged him to make the leap, and soon Spencer picked up and headed north to the Big Apple, where he reconnected with an old friend named Hannah.
One day, Spencer was telling Hannah about his friendship with Roz. Hannah’s mom overheard, and became interested. “[I thought] it would be really cool to… arrange for them to meet in person,” Hannah’s mom, Amy, tells Buzzfeed.
So she arranged for Spencer to travel to Florida to meet Roz, and even flew down there with him.
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
(Note: Roz is 81, not 86.)
When Spencer and Roz met for the first time, it was joyous:
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
— High Class Filth (@Filth800) December 1, 2017
In our tech-driven world, people like to bash millennials for being isolated, and not knowing how to talk to humans IRL. But to me, Spencer and Roz’s story shows that yeah, technology is something we’ve become dependent on, but it also has the power to connect people. Specifically, two cross-generational people who would never have met otherwise.
— Words With Friends (@WordsWFriends) December 2, 2017
In the end, we’re all just longing for human connection—and if tech helps us get there, there’s nothing wrong with that.