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Feeling lonely? Facebook, video games, or even virtual realities won’t make that feeling go away. We are social animals and thus our well-being partially relies on close relationships with other human beings. Virtual exchanges cannot replace face-to-face interactions and real friendship. So the most potent cure to your loneliness is to go out and meet real people. In a world optimized for individualism — a way of life that breeds isolation — this is easier said than done.
Let’s face it, finding interesting people and making friends takes time and, depending on your personality, it can be really tough. The Internet can take the stress out of finding people you will get along with. The trick is to find them somewhere near you, so you can eventually connect offline.
Find Common Interest Groups
The best way to make friends is to meet people who like the things you do. This is where the Internet shines. Humans love to organize social gatherings and what would be a better place to get the news out than the city hall blackboard? Exactly!
My favorite online network to find local groups is Meetup. The objective of a Meetup is to get together to learn, do, or share something. Anyone can create a group and organize events. Or you can just join an interesting group in your area and participate. This is a fantastic place to find friendships; you only have to show up.
The Internet offers many more ways to find great activities in the real world. Members of the travel network CouchSurfing for example love to socialize. Thus most cities with an active CouchSurfing community will have local groups and regular meetings, which are open to travelers and locals alike.
Craigslist usually has a section for meeting people, although that can be creepy. You can also try to find subreddits for activities in your area on Reddit. Or use the Internet to find local clubs, the old-fashioned way to meet new people and make friends.
Try Online Dating
Gone are the days when online dating had a bad reputation. Meanwhile, online dating websites have become a way not only to meet a bed or life partner, but also to find friends. Services like OKCupid leave it up to you whether you want to be paired with a potential partner, have an adventure, or just look for friends.
Use these tools to your advantage! Set up your profile to attract the kind of people you would like to meet in real life. Amy Webb hacked online dating to find the man of her dreams. Why shouldn’t this work for finding friends?
Browse Local Event Calendars
If you can’t be bothered to join groups or meet people for coffee to make friends, if you would just like to carry on with your life the way it is and casually meet people, go ahead. The key is to go out and be around people.
Fire up your Facebook events calendar and see whether you’ve been invited to anything lately. Maybe one of the suggested events will spike your interest. If Facebook is a good source, but a bad place to be, read Ryan’s article on how to best manage your Facebook calendar.
Eventbrite and are other great sources to discover local events. If you’re in the US or Canada, you should try 99events, which synthesizes events from several different sources, including Meetup, Eventbrite, and Eventful. And last but not least, you can browse the calendars of your favorite venues or ticket offices. Once at the event, it’s up to you to strike up a conversation and make a lasting connection.
Ready To Meet Someone?
Once you find a group of people you would like to join or someone who seems like a good match, do go out and meet them! To make sure you’ll have a good experience, also consider the advice on meeting in real life from my colleague Joshua. And if it gets too much, try to end the relationship politely.
Which online services have you used to form friendships in the real world? What was your experience and do you have any advice? Please share!
Image Credits: Lee Haywood Via Flickr