By Nancy Bowne
I recently attended a club board meeting for Lions Television on Zoom this past month and a group of us started talking about internet friends. Someone said, jokingly, “What’s the reason? You aren’t able to meet people in real life?” I then mentioned that we won’t always be in the school setting, constantly surrounded and categorized by age and interests. Someone else said, “Wow, it must be tough to be an adult.”
Especially during quarantine, I’ve noticed a bit of a shift during the remote semester and not relying on a school setting to nurture old friendships and create new ones. But what people don’t realize is the relatively modern way of meeting people online that has only been made more accessible due to social media and apps.
And it’s not just for dating apps.
So many platforms connect people to networks of different interests. There is a rising number of apps specializing in connecting people, that the pandemic has only made more popular and normal. Cosmopolitan collected a list of friendship apps to check out, such as Bumble BFF and Meetup. They are also helpful if you are new in town or to a country and want to meet people.
According to an article from The New York Times, “Even in pre-pandemic times, finding meaningful social connections could be challenging.” In a 2019 survey of 2,000 American adults, nearly half said they found it difficult to make new friends. In the workplace, extending the relationship from colleague to friend isn’t always natural, as it might be for a school setting.
It takes a newfound courage to just go out and meet up with strangers. But we need to trust our instincts on whether it feels secure, or if it’s a healthy vulnerability. Because once we are able to do that, there is no limit to the types of people we can meet.
According to an article from Psychology Today, “when we shy away from casual interactions with strangers, it is often due to a misplaced anxiety that they might not want to talk to us. Much of the time, however, this belief is false. As it turns out, many people are actually perfectly willing to talk—and may even be flattered to receive your attention.” Online interaction is usually not as intimidating, so it should create a better pacing for what we are comfortable with.
When you are on your own, you also don’t rely on ‘cliques’ or background history. You might find preconceived notions fade away and you may hang out with people who don’t have the same exact interests as you, like band or club soccer.
According to an article from TalkSpace, “...the best part about making new friends is an ability to create healthier friendship patterns. New friendships give you a clean slate, the opportunity to learn from mistakes in past friend relationships, and forge new ones that have even stronger ties. You can find the friends who will most compliment you and help you achieve a more fulfilling life, people who you can be there for, too.”
During a time of social distancing, you might feel like you are losing valuable experiences and opportunities to explore friendships and connections. But this can also be a period to unexpectedly strengthen your social skills and meet people you otherwise might not have considered. The online platform is an equalizer and you can meet people, safely, on your terms.