It’s ironic how much people used to scoff about how being online wasn’t real when now most of our lives revolve around being online. The jury’s still out on whether it’s a good or bad thing, but one thing’s for certain — you’ve got so many more chances to make friends thanks to the internet. But there’s no rulebook or PDF for how to make friends online. Thankfully, it’s a lot easier than you’d think.
How to Make Fast Friends Online
Before you worry about reaching out to people, you need to wrap your head around the fact that the people behind the screen are a lot like you. They’re also just humans living life and dealing with all of its ups and downs. Think of being online like being on the playground; everyone has their own style for attacking the play areas, and sometimes yours lines up perfectly with someone else’s.
Here are some of the different ways people conquer their metaphorical playgrounds:
1. Find People Through a Common Connection
The quickest way to find people online that you think you could be friends with is making a connection over something you share. You could comment on a post they made about a book they read that you like or send them a message about a hobby they have you’re trying to get into. Common ground will give you something to talk about in those early stages of getting to know each other.
2. Have an Active Online Presence
Sometimes, the way to make friends online is to not do anything at all. If you’re active in your niche of the internet, other people looking for friends might find you and reach out themselves. But this involves you having an active presence. People aren’t going to find you if you never post or share stuff about your life they find interesting.
3. Join Random Multiplayer Parties in Your Favorite Video Games
If you’re not one for the apps, try connecting with people over your favorite video game. Multiplayer online video games are perfect for shoving random people together and seeing if you mesh. Get a headset so you can chat and see where the conversation takes you.
It might take a few days or weeks to find players you vibe with, but keep at it until you do.
4. Reach Out to Others, but Be Casual About It
With online friendships, someone has to start the conversation, and it might as well be you. If someone doesn’t respond, that’s okay! There are too many other people to try to chat with to worry over one person ignoring your DM.
However, don’t spam or flood someone’s inbox with messages. A simple one or two will suffice. Any more and we can guarantee you won’t be giving off the earnest vibes you think you’re sending.
5. Cold Call With a Compliment
If you’re messaging a complete stranger, a great way to encourage them to respond is to cold call with a compliment. This will show people that you’re paying attention to their content and that you appreciate some aspect of it. Things like “I really liked the way you described your latest craft” or “Where’d you find that bomber jacket? I’m obsessed!” will go a long way.
6. Don’t Wait Too Long to Video Chat
Ideally, you’d translate your new online friend into someone you can hang out with in real life. But we know that’s just not possible for most people. In that case, you can make your connection more real by video chatting. Seeing each other face-to-face makes the friendship seem tangible and rooted in reality.
7. Don’t Mold Your Personality to Match Theirs
It might be tempting to chameleon yourself with someone who’s actually responding to you, especially if you haven’t had much luck in the past. But you don’t want to build a friendship off of a fake persona. You’re not trying to con them into being friends; you want to make real connections and to do that, you have to the real you.
8. Enjoy the Friendship While It Lasts
The ultimate lesson to learn when you’re making friends online is that they don’t always last forever. Some people burn hot, others cold, and ghosting goes both ways. When you don’t have to see someone every day, it’s easy to ignore them in favor of the real people around them demanding their attention.
Some online friendships will last a lifetime and others only a season. So, it’s important that you fully enjoy the connection you have while it lasts.
Safety Tips for Making Friends Online
While the majority of people you talk to online are genuine, there’s a small percentage that aren’t. Protect yourself by heeding these important safety tips:
- Don’t reveal identifying information about yourself. Your first comment shouldn’t be about the city you live in and the car you drive. If things go south, you don’t want them to have that kind of information.
- Try to find someone on multiple platforms. Granted, not everyone belongs to every social platform, but you should find a shred of them online in more than one place. If you can’t, something’s not adding up.
- Don’t travel to meet someone you met recently. If crime shows tell you anything, it's that you never really know a person. So, you should never travel away from your home to meet up with a person you’ve only known for a few months.
- Don’t get too attached. Until you’ve built a deep layer of trust over years of conversations and camaraderie, then you should be prepared to leave an online friendship the minute something gets hinky.
Making Friends Online Is a Whole New Ballgame
Let’s be honest with ourselves; making friends can be hard. Period. You have to deal with the same nerves and foot-in-mouth disease when you’re talking to someone in real life as you do online. Just keep your wits about you, stay genuine to yourself, and you’ll find your people.