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I think loneliness in young people is partly explained by the gap between their expectations and the reality. The average person consistently underestimates how much a stranger has enjoyed speaking to them. But nobody is idly chatting on Nextdoor.

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I think it is charming, but other women do not. The swipe functionality of Bumble BFF also makes me uncomfortable. And there are plenty of old friends on Facebook. After all, just because someone uses the same app as me does not mean they want to speak to me. It is not our observation, but something that sociologists have commented on. Inevitably, I find myself judging other women based on their looks — on what I think their clothes communicate about their personality, or what the set up of their shots says about their interests — and no doubt I am being judged similarly.

Even using an app such as Bumble BFF, which is deed to introduce people, does not help. If we have lots in common, it is not immediately apparent. He went to a different university and, although we tried to stay in touch, our paths diverged over time.

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We discuss our respective new partners and what happened to the old ones, our new jobs and where we hope to go, as well as our old hobbies, which remain the same writing and film-watching. I ed Facebook in and used it actively pointless statuses, pokes, and allbut from my interaction with it slowed. We get on. She was inspired to write it by an article in the Atlantic, in which journalist Julie Beck argued that we shed friendships as we age because our spouses to whom we are legally bound and our family to whom we are biologically bound fill our worlds. They have already expressed an interest in me as an individual, and I should have some sense of them as people and be confident that we have something in common.

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It may seem daft to view nurturing an acquaintanceship with someone who lives next to you as an accomplishment. I initiate a conversation with every match I receive, but notice that potential friendships are not tended with the same energy as possible romances.

Five years? I contact Paul, my BFF from sixth-form college. T his year started with a bang.

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You cannot move on to another profile until you have cast your judgment, so you are primed to decide within seconds in order to sate your curiousity about who is next. We chat briefly online, opting to meet for dinner right away. They seem very nice, but live a bit too far away to meet. They could be anyone, and so could I. Each conversation is taking a punt.

We just clicked: why i set out to find a new group of friends online

We have a drink and become Facebook friends. This is why one of the easiest ways to make friends is to reconnect with old ones.

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I have heard many over the past few years, friend loved ones leave in search of job opportunities or housing security, or as a cure for homesickness. But what if you have already racked up those hours? It effectively acts as a digital noticeboard for your local area, including adverts internet evening classes and book clubs, which both seem like prime buddy-making opportunities. Indeed, I met one of my closest friends on my favourite platform, Twitter.

But it has forced me to challenge my own strict belief that people — above anything else, even above my finding to chat — have a right to be left alone. However, on another community website, the hyper-local Harringay OnlineI notice a post from my neighbour — to whom I have never spoken, despite living next to her for several years.

My new year resolution was a no-brainer: I must try to make new friends.

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I say my goodbyes and delete it. Still, I wonder if my existing social media connections may be the most fruitful source of friends.

How to make new friends online (without making it weird)

Can a friendship app, a digital neighbourhood noticeboard or Facebook really help me discover a new bestie? Can I use the internet to find my future bestie? The alternative is that our own idleness or inattention slowly separates us from those we once connected with. I go to the gym two or three times a week, yet my visits are silent. We swap names and talk about where we live. The internet is not a silver bullet for loneliness — indeed, it may distort our natural behaviour and our understanding of what friendship is. Can the internet help me make friends there?

I pass through, barely making eye contact, let alone exchanging words. Using the same tools to search for a friend reveals how truly blunt they are.

Friendship, strangers and safety in online social networks

According to the evolutionary anthropologist Robin Dunbar, a human can comfortably manage no more than relationships. It is not obvious how you can build online relationships when replying to posts about parking permits or moths giving people a rash. However, there is another that Dunbar says is important to friendships: One of the biggest barriers to meaningful friendships is distance, with 30 minutes being the longest time we would spend travelling to meet up. Leaver tells me about the twentysomethings she interviewed for her book.

I lose momentum and feel frustrated with the app. Offline, meanwhile, we have been brought up to believe it is unacceptable to speak to strangers, even as traditional public spaces — libraries, sports centres — are being closed down. Every single person replies. I send direct messages to a few.

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It burst into life with fireworks and kisses, and then came the sound of a spoon tapping on a wine glass. We arrange to meet again, and remain in touch. I download a community app, Nextdoorwhich is regularly listed as one of the best apps through which to make friends. Another leaving speech. Even a few words tell you so much.

In some ways, it is comforting to assume we lose touch with people because we grow apart. With a large proportion of Facebook friends being people I met more than 10 years ago, I am not sure I still have anything in common with many of them.

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And we may be more likely to do it for love than friendship. In the end, I manage to have proper conversations with a couple of women. But I do have my phone and I am part of an always-connected, always-scrolling generation. I also take to Facebook searching for something similar, but as I barely use the platform, it instead acts as a time capsule for a past version of me.

Are friends online as legitimate as real-life friends? how the internet makes a difference

When that happens, friendships are the first to go. And you can make this decision based on one picture, rather than needing to take in the whole profile before you give your verdict. He was. I also download a friend-making app — Bumble BFF. I am already using Bumble for dating and it is easy enough to toggle between the friends and romance platforms.

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Social media makes us believe we are surrounded by people, and we may mistake likes and comments for intimacy. The shared sense of humour and curiosity about the world makes for a joyful meal. The dinner is like old times and there is no distance between us even though so much has changed.

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Perhaps Beck is right — in the choice between love and friendship, pals always lose. This rings painfully true.

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It makes sense: I am ultimately a stranger, no matter how many laughs we share, or how much we agree on Brexit. Later, at the gym, I approach another user, a man who looks as if he is in his late 20s, and ask if he was the person I saw on Instagram winning a fitness challenge.

How to make friends online

Using an app for friendship rather than romance also drives home how chatting online with strangers is not a patch on talking face to face, when communication comes through many mediums — tone, body language, expression — all processed in an instant. Perhaps it is our millennial inability to carry on a conversation, or perhaps we are both tired after exercise, but the chat dwindles. Jeffrey Hall, a researcher from the University of Kansas, found that you need hours to become friends with someone, or hours to become close friends. I try to get involved anyway, heaping praise and asking questions.

It hurts to be reduced to this, and more so than it does when it is by the opposite sex.

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With this in mind, I prioritise making friends near home. Perhaps friendships are more elusive than we think, and so delicate they will die unless actively nurtured. Shared interests spring up easily and conversation comes naturally, as does an offer to catch up in person. Later, as I lay in bed, I thought about my rate of friend attrition.

My rate of matches in the friend setting is ificantly lower than in the romance section. But it can at least post where meaningful meetings may happen, and it can keep you in the loop of existing relationships.

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Now I check in periodically, but barely engage. How are you? When I see her in the local pub, I strike up a conversation about her post. We all keep our guard up for strangers.

Internet friend?

How long until I found myself totally alone? A lot of young people feel the same. I return to the chasm of hyperbole and scroll through the lists of people I follow and who follow me, looking out for those I regularly engage with. I decide to follow my gym on Instagram, commenting on its posts alongside other members.