General Question

live_rose's avatar

How do you make friends when you live your life behind your computer?

Asked by live_rose (1223points) June 7th, 2009

I have intense social anxiety and I simply enjoy being alone with my computer. But sometimes that life gets lonely. I know i should try and break out of my comfort zone go outside and make friends but I don’t know/ can’t do that. Is it possible to make and maintain meaning full friends online or is my only option to go out into the real world or stay in my room friendless?

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23 Answers

skfinkel's avatar

Since you asked the question, I think you already know the answer.

Bobbydavid's avatar

the perfect site (fluther) to ask such a question!

mattbrowne's avatar

Here’s my recommendation: turn the computer off. Stare at the black screen for a while. Imagine there’s a power outage and there’s no backup. You get bored. You think about your interests. You go to a place were other people share the same interests. You will meet real people which is very important for your mid-term health. You risk getting sick later in your life if you spent your life only in front of a computer. Talk to people you trust how to deal with social anxiety. There are ways to deal with it. There’s professional help too.

cookieman's avatar

Yes, you do need to venture into the real world. That being said, I would start small.

Pick something you’re interested in (comic books, cooking, video games, bicycling etc.) – make a brief (fifteen minute) visit to a related store nearby. Chat with the clerk a bit about what you’re buying – then leave. Next week, do it again. After a few weeks, he/she will recognize you.

Now, is this a friend? No. But it’s a contact. Someone real to have a brief chat with about something small and specific.

Once you’re comfortable with this routine. Maybe hang around a little longer (half hour). Look around, ask for recommendations on something.

Every couple of weeks, increase your level of contact. Maybe ask about social activities they sponsor or know of (related classes, workshops, etc.). If so, attend one – don’t stay for the whole thing at first. Only as long as you’re comfortable.

Ultimately you need two realize to things here – A) Take small “baby steps”. You’re not going to change your personality in a week – but every little step is a mini victory. Fell good about it & B) If your social anxiety is that bad, you may need the encouragement of a counselor to help you “get out there”.

Best of luck.

Bobbydavid's avatar

She’ll only go to an Internet cafe!

Aethelwine's avatar

It is possible to make friends online but you really should get out of the house now and then. Take a walk through the park, breathe in some fresh air, talk to others that are walking their pets, anything for human contact. It will be good for you.

Bobbydavid's avatar

Or seek online help!
Before pc, what did you do?
At school, you had friends?
Do you work?
What’s the problem?

SecondGlance's avatar

If you feel that “intense social anxiety” is holding you back from connecting with others, seek out such similar people online. They will understand you. You should plan to get off the computer and go out to meet up, even to walk around a park and chat or something. You won’t be judged, and you can have a laugh without any pressure.

You could choose to live a solitary life, as a monk or disabled person might, but if you have the freedom to go out into the world and interact with others you definitely should.

cookieman's avatar

@Bobbydavid: This thread just started and you’ve already posted three snarky comments. I enjoy snark as much as the next Flutherite, but how ‘bout we attempt to actually help this fellow Jelly before we unleash the snark?

live_rose's avatar

@Bobbydavid I have a job I actually go outside actually Im a cashier . . .which takes far more human contact than I can really stand. Before the computer . . .it was Tv before Tv I was a kid and even then I was shy a loner I’ve never felt truly comfortable with anyone.

AstroChuck's avatar

I’ll be your friend.

Aethelwine's avatar

@live_rose Do you have a dog? If not, is it a possibility to get one? Walking a dog and taking it to a dog park is an easy way to start a conversation with others.

live_rose's avatar

@jonsblond I have a turtle I cant really walk him . . .though putting it only a tiny leash would be kind of amusing

Aethelwine's avatar

@live_rose At least you have a sense of humor. That’s a start. :)

Jeruba's avatar

You need some friends and associations in the real world. And you need the skills of interacting with others. Your question shows that you know that.

I recommend doing volunteer work of some kind, even if it’s only an hour or two a week, in an area of interest or potential interest to you.

—A lot of nice people volunteer.
—The people you meet necessarily have something in common.
—Your commitment motivates you to get up and out.
—You can gain skills and a record that will help you in your future career.

and (best part)

—Working side by side with someone takes off the social pressure of facing somebody and having to make conversation. You can work side by side instead of staring at each other, silences are normal and natural, and there is always something to talk about.

Depending on your interests, you could look at medical fields, home visits, animal care, museum aide, teen services, theatre, church, hospice work, clubs of every sort, or—how’s this?—teaching computer skills to kids, seniors, English learners, or any other population served by a community center or school facility. Plenty of places that need help can’t afford to hire and welcome knowledgeable, caring volunteers.

Judi's avatar

This is a blind leading the blind question! Gotta run! I think my family is staging an intervention!!

Jack79's avatar

fluther is a good place to start :)

I know what you mean. I don’t have social anxiety, but I am just in a difficult situation where I don’t want to be around the particular people who I might bump into (I’m a little more well-known in local society than I’d like to and don’t like some of the conversations people start with me). Yes, it drives me crazy too sometimes, but yes, you can have meaningful relationships on the web, since there are real people behind those computer screens, just like you. I know that people go paranoid and you hear all these stories about perverts online, or that there are others who simply lie about themselves. Sure, it’s easier to lie when people can’t see your face, but overall, isn’t the “real world” out there also full of liars?

So I’m all for the internet. I have met wonderful people online, some of which later became RL friends too. The only real problem is distance, since you get to meet people online that may live whole continents away. But other than that, it’s still a society in its own way.

chelseababyy's avatar

I met my boyfriend on the internet. Met some amazing people as well, that are very close friends of mine. Use social networking sites like twitter, fluther, and others. Stickam is also a great place to meet people.

tyrantxseries's avatar

friends are overrated

Bobbydavid's avatar

All 3 of my ex wives were from the Internet. It works! It’s amazing!

LostInParadise's avatar

Some very good advice here. You might want to look into, which you can use to find groups that get together for various reasons. If you enjoy the outdoors you might want to look into finding a hiking group.

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