Making Friends in the Modern Age: When Social Media Becomes Truly Social
In 2012, I found myself living in a new city. The problem? I didn’t have friends here in Pittsburgh. I’m an introvert by nature (always have been) and I’m sort of picky about who I give my time to. Not to say that I have high standards for friends, but there are certain things I appreciate about the people in my life: people who are driven, smart, supportive of women, and okay with being called out on their own bullshit. It doesn’t seem very complicated, but I had a hell of a time finding my tribe. I don’t have many group oriented hobbies and I wasn’t sure where to start.
I turned to the internet for help (Googling, “how to make friends as an adult,” is a very real moment of reckoning) and found MeetUp.com. I went to a meetup for women, and a few of the women I met reached out to me to hang out again. On our second “date,” one of them remarked about a naked bike ride she’d happened to come across, and said that some of the people participating definitely should not have been naked. The other woman laughed. I knew at that point I would not be seeing these women again. Judgy McJudgersons are not my people.
With that failed experiment under my belt I focused on getting to know more writers and bloggers in the area. I started looking for Pittsburgh based hashtags on Instagram and followed a bunch of people. Some got unfollowed right away and some people piqued my interest (fashion bloggers really just do not float my boat). As I got to “know” these people better, I started commenting on their posts here and there and eventually, they’d follow me back and do the same.
One day I got a message from one of them asking me out to coffee. I gladly accepted and spent over two hours chatting with a stranger from the internet at a cafe. She had some acquaintances I’d been wanting to meet and served as a connector between us, and I started to get bolder in my quest for friends.
It’s been refreshing to meet people this way. Saved from weird blind dates, it’s kind of like meeting an old friend for the first time.
Social media is so often a place of superficial posts and people brushing real life under the rug, so I was happy to find people who were authentically themselves and brave enough to be vulnerable in a very public space, much like I am.
It’s paid off and I now have a handful of friends I know exclusively from Instagram. It feels a bit odd to say, but my life is fuller thanks to Instagram.
Jessica is a directionless soul turned writer with a penchant for helping others work through periods of uncertainty and potential change. She currently writes for Bankable by Forbes and has previously written for Holl & Lane Magazine, Women for One, and at JessicaILutz.com.