Social media is big on the whole “connecting people” thing, but many fail to capitalize on today’s online tools when it comes to making friends. Sure, you can send a friend invite or add people to your contacts list, but unless they turn into friends that you actually share a strong bond with, they’re nothing more than acquaintances and a bunch of names that pop up every now and then on your feed. That raises the question: is it possible to develop true friendships online? The answer is yes, but there’s a catch.
Making new friends online is definitely possible, but you need to take the right approach to things. There are plenty of things that make it very different from making friends offline. For example, there’s no 100% guarantee that an online profile is a real thing until you meet an individual in person. If you want to make friends, you need as much information about the people, and the best way to get information is to establish good communication.
Basic considerations when making new friends online
1. Finding Common Ground
One of the easiest ways to make friends online is by seeking people with whom you can relate to. This way, you’ll have an easier time breaking the ice and starting conversations that could lead to new friendships. You don’t even have to start from nothing if you already have a long list of contacts in your social media account. It’s just a matter of finding that common ground between you and your new friends.
If you can’t find anybody on your friends list who shares your interests, start by checking out fan pages or online message boards – you’re bound to find a few people that are also eager to find new friends online.
2. Communication – Beyond the Contacts List
The good thing about connecting with people online is that there are countless ways to get in touch with them. Aside from tagging people in your posts or saying hello thru integrated messengers, you can even invite them to use other communication platforms like a group communication app. Mobile communication applications can also help you find or make groups that will allow you to seek out people who share a common interest, be it gaming, a TV show fandom, or one of the many worthwhile hobbies out there
Having lots of options to communicate is good, but what matters more is that you communicate often. The more you can talk to each other, the more comfortable you become at sharing your ideas and stories. Given enough time, you could even ask them to start video or voice calls with you, which helps a lot in setting you up for the next step.
3. Meeting Them in Person
With enough communication and time, you and your new online friends might want to consider overcoming the digital barrier and actually meeting up in person. This works best for active, tightly-knit online circles (unless a friend doesn’t mind meeting you in a one-to-one scenario). Ask your new friends if they want to meet somewhere that everyone can easily access.
If you’re more of a people person, this shouldn’t be a major challenge for you. However, introverted individuals might experience a case of cold feet (which is why they prefer looking for friends online in the first place). If you’re one of those people, just remember that you’re meeting up with people that want you to be part of their world. Stay calm and keep a positive attitude, and you’ll have a great time with your new friends.
Advantages and disadvantages
Making new friends online comes with a series of advantages and benefits.
- Broadens the social circle: Online platforms allow individuals to meet people from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds, expanding their social circle and enriching their understanding of the world.
- Overcomes geographical limitations: Making friends online eliminates the constraints of distance, allowing people to connect with friends from all over the globe.
- Easy access: The internet is available 24/7, making it easy for individuals to connect with others anytime and anywhere. All you need is a device and internet access to start making friends online.
- Shared interests: Online communities based on specific interests, hobbies, or passions make it easy for individuals to find like-minded friends who share their enthusiasm.
- Comfortable for introverts: Introverted individuals may find it easier to connect with others and express themselves online, as it provides a sense of anonymity and a comfortable environment to build relationships.
- Support groups: Online platforms offer numerous support groups where individuals can find friends who share similar challenges, such as mental health issues, chronic illnesses, or parenting struggles.
- Professional networking: Making friends online can lead to valuable professional connections, helping individuals advance their careers and professional network.
- Develops communication skills: Communicating online helps individuals develop their written communication skills, as well as improving their ability to express themselves and understand others.
- Educational opportunities: Making friends from different countries and backgrounds can provide valuable learning experiences, exposing individuals to new languages, cultures, and perspectives.
- Cost-effective: Making friends online is an affordable way to socialize, as it does not require spending on transportation, food, or entertainment.
…and also some drawbacks and challenges you have to take into consideration.
- Lack of physical interaction: Online friendships lack the physical closeness, body language, and facial expressions that are essential for building strong connections.
- Safety concerns: The anonymity of the internet can make it difficult to verify the identity of online friends, potentially leading to scams, cyberbullying, or even physical harm.
- Miscommunication: Online communication can sometimes lead to misunderstandings due to the absence of non-verbal cues, tone of voice, and facial expressions.
- Time-consuming: Maintaining online friendships can be time-consuming, as it often requires constant communication through messages, emails, or social media updates.
- Addiction: Some individuals may become addicted to making friends online, neglecting their real-life relationships and responsibilities.
- Privacy issues: Sharing personal information online can lead to privacy concerns, as it may be accessible to others without your consent.
- Superficial relationships: Online friendships may lack the depth and emotional connection found in real-life friendships, leading to superficial relationships that may not last long.
- Distraction: Constant online communication can be distracting, affecting productivity and focus on work, academics, or other important tasks.
- Cyberbullying: Online friendships can expose individuals to cyberbullying, harassment, or trolling, which can have detrimental effects on their mental health and well social skills.
- Hindering of social skills: Relying solely on online friendships may hinder the development of real-life social skills, as individuals may become less able to effectively communicate and create meaningful connections in person.
Making new friends online offers numerous advantages, including the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals from around the world, overcoming geographical limitations, and providing support for those facing similar challenges. However, it also comes with its share of disadvantages, such as safety concerns, a lack of physical interaction, and potential addiction.
Ultimately, it is important to strike a balance between online and real-life friendships to enjoy the benefits while mitigating the risks associated with online social interaction. By being aware of the advantages and disadvantages of making friends online, people can make informed decisions about their online social activities and foster meaningful, long-lasting friendships. Making new friends, whether online or otherwise, is always a possibility. With the right approach to things, there’s always a chance that you’ll find the right people that can be lifelong companions once you get to know them.