How to Make Friends on the Internet
Background: I worked with fellow prose-wrangler, Michael Dean (recently anointed Editor-in-Chef at Write of Passage) to develop this piece to be featured on the Write of Passage site.
Elaborating on my previous essay about how I counterintuitively made more friends during the pandemic, this new piece attempts to convince you that—in this age of increasing isolation and hyper-individualism—the internet is the ultimate resource for finding that social connection you may be longing for.
Drawing a parallel between the chaos and overstimulation I was confronted with when traveling to a new country and engaging on the internet while sheltering in place during the pandemic, the essay proposes finding guides to help navigate new places (physical or digital) because they allow you to focus on the quality of your experience without getting overwhelmed.
Ultimately by shrinking the size of these new places, these guides enable you to find the like-minded people that gravitate around them.
My hope is to portray the power and potency of interactions between people with shared passions and curiosities and to convince you that making friends on the internet is a worthwhile pursuit.
I found that shared curiosities broke down the traditional barriers you would expect to have in digital interactions with people you have never met IRL. It turns out that there’s much more potency to an interaction with somebody who has the same weirdly specific interests as you, and it’s much easier to build rapport than you’d expect
The willingness to help others, to freely share information and advice, to give time selflessly – it rekindled my hope that the Internet could be the grand, unifying platform that I had envisioned all those years ago when I first got introduced to online social networks.
I end the essay with a framework for pinpointing your own passions and curiosities and finding guides in those domains. With the caveat that the key to connection and flourishing within any of these communities is participation, vulnerability, and taking bold action.
Find the others, and let the magical force of the Internet introduce you to the people who might just become your best friends, your colleagues, maybe even your life partner.