If life wasn’t virtual before the pandemic, it certainly is now. Between Zoom meetings and Skype dates, it seems like the entire world is online. Of course, a digital life might appeal to those who enjoy remote work and would rather avoid social gatherings. However, many people are beginning to struggle with loneliness, with nearly half of Americans saying they feel more lonely than usual.
Undoubtedly, a lack of physical contact has ended many friendships and it’s harder than ever to make new friends, but now’s not the time to give up on your social life. With so many options for making friends online, there’s no reason why you can’t spark a virtual friendship.
1. Peruse Event Sites
Perhaps the quickest way to meet new people online is to peruse event websites. Eventbrite, Meetup and Ticketmaster are all great places to find local happenings of all kinds. Some might even allow you to explore a calendar and filter your search by date and hobby. Whether you’re into DJing, double dutch or Harleys, you’re sure to find an event that caters to your interests.
Of course, you’ll have to attend one of these events in person in order to meet new friends. However, many event centers, attractions and museums have recently organized a host of virtual gatherings so you can connect with others from the comfort of your own home.
2. Join Facebook Groups
If you’d rather keep things a bit more casual, join a Facebook group to connect with people who share similar interests. Browse groups your current friends have already created or check out new, popular groups near you.
Odds are there are at least a few online communities that share your interests. However, if you can’t find a group that sparks intrigue, you can always create your own. Invite current friends to join and make the page public so others can, too. Ask friends and family to share your posts so you attract more people and grow your group faster.
3. Download an App
Sometimes, being part of a large group can be overwhelming. After all, if you want to stand out from the crowd and actually make friends, you have to like, comment and post frequently. If that level of online interaction is unappealing to you, try downloading an app to make more personal connections.
Make a list of apps strictly for making platonic friends — like Bumble BFF and Nextdoor. Then, create a comprehensive online profile and begin searching for like-minded individuals. Once you find someone that you can relate to, don’t hesitate to reach out with a friendly compliment or question. If you’re kind and genuine, the other person will likely respond. Just try to avoid flirting as some apps will ban you if you try to score a friend with benefits.
4. Bond Over Video Games
Are you an avid gamer that loves to talk about Fortnite as much as you love playing it? Try using a headset to chat with people in your favorite games. Many video games, including DOTA, World of Warcraft and Overwatch allow you to live chat as long as you’re respectful and avoid inappropriate language.
You can also meet other gamers by hopping on Twitch and watching people stream their favorite games. Participate in the chat and send a friend request to those you seem to connect with. Then, you can carry on your conversation elsewhere after the stream ends.
5. Use a Chat Room
Do you find other cultures fascinating? Wish you could travel to Europe or Australia? Try using a chat room to meet people from other parts of the world and make an entirely new group of friends. Have conversations with random people with MeetMe, Chatt Room, Badoo and other similar platforms. Then, if you hit it off online, you can exchange phone numbers or continue talking on social media.
You can also discover random people near you with chat rooms like SKOUT or Tagged. This way, if you do find someone with similar interests and want to hand out in person, you can.
6. Slide Into Their DMs
Unless you join a group, social media usually isn’t the best place to make friends. However, if you’re bold enough to send a few direct messages, you can easily meet and connect with people.
Follow people who interest you on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, paying special attention to those with a similar number of followers and engagement level as you. Then, interact with their posts and slide into their DMs when the time is right. Try to center the conversation on their feed or a recent post and, if the opportunity presents itself, ask them if they want to chat more online or in person.
Starting Your Search Online
Meeting new people from the comfort of your own home has never been more safe or convenient thanks to online communities and social platforms. Nowadays, you can practically interview potential friends before choosing a select few to spend in-person time with.
While you might meet these people online, your relationship doesn’t have to stay virtual forever. Eventually, you can meet up for dinner or drinks, but the digital world is always a good place to start.