Are there places online where I can fill this need for social interaction?
February 10, 2012 2:07 PM   Subscribe

I'm an out-of-place extrovert living in an isolated location with no friends and not a lot of hope of finding any real connections in the near future, and desperately need some sort of human contact, even if just online. Please help me find some.

I have no problem making friends but there are really none to make where I am, or rather, finding potential friends may take years. I've already been here for two years and will be here for many more. I am here willingly, but I could not have anticipated how hard it would be to find friends. Old friends are now far away and living very different lives and communications are few and far between, and it's not enough. For those who might think that there is no situation or location where somebody could not find new friends, or who want to comment that I should just move (not an option), please MeMail me and I will explain why I am in this remote area and why the potential friend-pool is so small-- to describe my situation here would compromise my anonymity.

I'm female, late twenties, happily married and in general quite content. When I'm happy, I'm happy-- but on occasion (and especially lately) I find myself bitterly lonely. My husband is everything to me but we both know that I need more socially than just him-- and he's not able to be at home as much as we both would like, so that leaves me with just my pets for company most of the time. He's at a loss to help me on this one (he doesn't know many people our age here either), though he cares deeply and is always encouraging and supportive.

I actually enjoy being alone quite a bit, but this is too much. I encounter remarkably few people each day and I'm at the point where favorites on Metafilter and re-pins on Pinterest feel like quality social interactions. For a couple of weeks now I've been entrenched in this utterly soul-crushing situational depression that's purely about this loneliness-- crying episodes, feeling hopeless and irritable and desperate, accomplishing nothing and unable to keep house (I'm sufficiently medicated for clinical mental illness, so this is definitely situational). The fact that I'll be in this situation/location for a couple of decades is making it especially hard. My daily life is quite good overall and I don't have much to complain about-- it's the lack of social interaction that is making me feel more and more hopeless. Perhaps most importantly, being alone and in my head all the time is taking a serious toll on my sanity.

Is there a place online where you have found connections and friendships with people you can relate to? Or have you been in this kind of situation? I'm seeking mostly female friendship, not looking for anything else, just people to communicate with regularly-- not a "talk to a random person" site, but something of more substance. I know from looking through previous questions about loneliness that I'm lucky to be in a good relationship but please be nice, I'm struggling right now.
posted by sockless to Human Relations (33 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm sorry to hear you're feeling so alone! I know how it is to voluntarily and willingly put yourself in a situation where you'll have to make social sacrifices that can really drag you down after a while.

What are some of your interests and hobbies? That might help us give suggestions as to where you might find fun people to chat with - as well as help Mefites step up, if they share your interests!

I'd be happy to chat with you about just about anything; just memail me if you feel like it. I'm also female and about (a little older than) your age.
posted by vetala at 2:13 PM on February 10, 2012


:hugs:

I've really been there -- my partner is active duty military and we move a lot to places that are isolated/isolating. I love LiveJournal, and some of my favorite communities include FanFicRants, Hip_Domestics, and the mil_wives comm (but you can only join that one if you're a military couple). I also really like Tumblr, and Twitter. If you want to be my Tumblr or Twitter friend I have the same s/n on both as I do hear.

I also really like the game EchoBazaar and the forums there are really active. Other nerdy online things I do include webcomics and their forums (QuestionableContent.net and PennyAndAggie.com have active, nice forums, as does CandiComics.). Basically I have a bunch of hobbies (sf/f, comics, art, steampunk, ironpunk, etc) and I find communities to talk about them in.

I also got a webcam and keep in touch with faraway friends using Skype. Eventually I'll start doing yoga and bellydance here -- the good thing about having a movement based hobby is that you can do it on your own, talk about it online, and make friends in your classes, too, if they're an option for you.
posted by spunweb at 2:14 PM on February 10, 2012


Also, are you a stay at home spouse?
posted by spunweb at 2:15 PM on February 10, 2012


You need to work, or study. Can you find any work to do, even if it's volunteer, or even if it's much lower level than your qualifications? Or enroll in an online master's degree program that will let you interact with other students?

Another option might be to be a little unconventional: spend part of the year away from your husband in a more stimulating atmosphere, perhaps in your home country/state where you can make some money or live near old friends & family. This may seem strange, but there's no need to make such a huge sacrifice for your husband's career.
posted by yarly at 2:17 PM on February 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Penny Arcade forums have been wonderful for me in a similar situation. It's such a huge place that reading the comic is not at all necessary. I've made the best online friends just hanging out in the chat thread and because of that I'm planning to meet most of them in April at a big convention. I'm sure there are other similar forums.

Metafilter fills kind of a similar role but it's differently structured.

Playing games online w/ voice chat can be good if you have people you know.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:18 PM on February 10, 2012


Oddly, and possibly controversially, I'm going to recommend trying out an MMO or two. I've met quite a few people who consider their time socializing in Rift or WoW or Glitch to be almost as important as their real-life social time. Having goals to reach together, building a guild together, and role-playing online can be really rewarding; the real-time aspect of it also seems to be more fulfilling than online fora can be.
posted by MrVisible at 2:20 PM on February 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'd agree with MrVisible. The social aspect of that can't be overlooked. In fact, if you join a guild in any MMO it's basically like having a chat room full of people that you get to know.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:23 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry to hear it, sockless! Being alone can be really, really, really tough.

I second the suggestion to find communities around your interests & hobbies. There are forums about everything, everything, everything. Cooking, trashy TV, building robots, various kinds of fandom, etc, etc, etc.

You could also get involved in a community that is DOING something together online -- anything from becoming an active Wikipedia author/editor to working on an open-source coding project. MMORPGs fall into this category, too; I know people who play WoW or EveOnline with a guild or corp that they met online. In some cases, they've come to form real lasting friendships with these people.

Also, just on the off chance that you haven't ruled it out already: have you considered a pet? A cat, dog, or even a goldfish can be a great help when you're feeling lonely.
posted by ourobouros at 2:24 PM on February 10, 2012


Thank you for the kindness, everyone. Seriously, my hands are shaking a bit.

I wish I could put more out here about my interests but I really really don't want family members to recognize me here-- I'm sorry!

I work (we own a business) but I can go entire days without seeing people (our employees don't count, there's a very different relationship there).

I have a university degree and a Master's would be kind of pointless given my very settled work situation, but I hadn't thought about the online connections I could make there. My actual day-to-day work isn't especially challenging so the bonus of a mental challenge would be interesting.

I'm not into video games much, but my husband has been saying that I might like to try some out, and while I know about the chat part it hadn't occurred to me that there would be forums within.

A place like Penny Arcade as you've described might be good, especially if it's large and there's no requirement to be into the comic in order to find people to relate to.

I do have a number pets, and they are excellent company, just terrible conversationalists!
posted by sockless at 2:29 PM on February 10, 2012


These are difficult suggestions to make without knowing where you are, but when i lived in the capital of Uganda, i knew several people who lived 'i the middle of no where' who made it a financial and scheduling priority to come to the capital (or their nearest big city) on a certain schedule. By being in town in a sort of predictable way - 'the last weekend of the month, every other month" it allowed them to make friends, make plans, and have people to at least text. Even if its a financial hardship to, say, take a boat or a mega long bus ride (or whatever you'd need) you might find that its worthwhile for your mental health.

The other thing is - maybe don't worry so much about people being the same age or being similar to you? It'll be a different kind of friendship, but spending time with the 60 year old who want to learn english, or the teenage guy who wants someome to play board games with (or whatever) might be a surprising source of friendship (or at least companionship.)

Also: start a blog. Something public (ie not a password protected one.) You can start conversations that are about your life, and maybe find other people who are in your region - maybe in a couple of towns over - who are equally looking for people to talk too.

Good luck- loneliness is really hard.
posted by Kololo at 2:29 PM on February 10, 2012


Why is it that you guys have to stay there for decades and decades? It's not really fair to you. If you are really stuck there, then maybe you should try to get out of the family business and into a different workplace. That could really help.
posted by yarly at 2:32 PM on February 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also: maybe don't worry so much about your family and friends knowing you're lonely. After all, they are the ones that are most motivated to help you!
posted by Kololo at 2:32 PM on February 10, 2012


These three things helped me when I moved halfway across the country:

Volunteer at the local soup kitchen.

Go to the same bar the same night every week during the same hour; you'll meet the regulars eventually and at least one might be a keeper.

Learn to knit and then join or start a Stitch'n'bitch.
posted by goblinbox at 2:32 PM on February 10, 2012


I, too, met an awful lot of people through Livejournal. I wasn't even very interested in the same topics as the communities I became involved in, they were just sort of friends of friends. Now, like many on-line communities that evolve over the years, some of the people have new interests, some are with the old interests, but many people still keep in touch about their lives, too. Livejournal itself may not be the answer to your question, but similar online communities arise out of any group of hobbyists/interests.
posted by ldthomps at 2:33 PM on February 10, 2012


ARE YOU ME???

I'm a (weird kind of) extrovert married to a (sort of, mostly) introvert in a city where I know no one, pretty much. Yes, I have come home and thrown myself into bed and screamed and cried.

It's so odd too, because I know a lot of people all over the world, and I like being with people--and I just literally can't make connections here.

Some online ties (Tumblr, Pinterest) are just too weak to give you any satisfaction with online-only relationships. Twitter's a small step up. You need something way more involved.

I come to recommend writing in public! Building a project, of some sort. I know you're protective of your privacy, but honestly, group-blogging with one or some number of friends (or new online friends!) who are far away would be hugely helpful, I think. You need SOME sort of a project online--but one with people who KNOW you and GET you.

I feeeel you. It's really a strange experience, right?
posted by RJ Reynolds at 2:39 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


(PS MeMail me!)
posted by RJ Reynolds at 2:40 PM on February 10, 2012


How isolated are you? Even if you're in a rural area there might be ways to meet people. Is there a local curling club? (I'm not kidding -- it worked for my Dad)

The best I can offer is Roger Ebert on loneliness and the internet. Here's a bit of what he had to say:

Lonely people have a natural affinity for the internet. It's always there waiting, patient, flexible, suitable for every mood. But there are times when the net reminds me of the definition of a bore by Meyer the hairy economist, best friend of Travis McGee: "You know what a bore is, Travis. Someone who deprives you of solitude without providing you with companionship."
...
I speak now about those who have a choice. Some people reading this don't have a choice. One woman who posted wonderful comments later revealed she was almost completely paralyzed. I think of her often, and think of her as reading. Others have disabling diseases. You already know how I'm screwed up. So, you get on with it, and you do what you can. The internet is a godsend.

But that doesn't describe most of you, who are lonely for what might be a matrix of psychological, social and situational reasons. I don't know you and can't explain you. I have no advice to offer. I'm assuming you are indeed lonely, but not medically depressed. Depression can be treated with medications and therapy. It also might help to find something -- anything -- to do that you can feel is useful.


He talks about his own loneliness as well, why he thinks he has felt little of it in his life and why it struck him hard when he did feel it.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:45 PM on February 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


One other thing:

I'm not into video games much, but my husband has been saying that I might like to try some out, and while I know about the chat part it hadn't occurred to me that there would be forums within.

Be very careful which game you choose. EVE Online for example is a great game, but it's designed as a place where scams, counter-scams, deception and exploitation are actively encouraged.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:49 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Come talk to us on Twitter! There's always a conversation going on. There was a Metatalk about it a while back, where everyone listed their twitter names. And a lot of people have their username listed in their profile. Just mention in your twitter profile what your Mefi name is, and most people will follow you back.

And if you'd like a direct link to my Metafilter list, memail me.
posted by MexicanYenta at 2:55 PM on February 10, 2012


You might also like MetaChat which is a less-structured place where a lot of MeFi people [and others] hang out. it's a little more free form and a little more talkative and less "Ask a Question" or "Show me something cool on the internet". It's also a smaller place so it's easier to get a feel for people, it's not a dating scene and the folks there are a range of ages and geographic locations.

I'd also consider, unrelatedly, the possibility of postal mail if that's an option where you are. Having a real physical change in the day to day routine where you are might also give you something to look forward to and/or interact with and there are many ways to find people to write back and forth with and MeFi has a lot of random exchanges going on.
posted by jessamyn at 3:02 PM on February 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I just wanted to thank you for posting this, because I am going through some VERY similar stuff right now! And also to offer some correspondence, if you're interested! (MeMail me!) Keeping up my old friendships from our previous city/life has been difficult, and making new friends here in our new town has been difficult, too. HOWEVER I haven't given up total hope yet, since I know there are still a couple of things I can try. For example, I'm trying to take up knitting, and I know there are groups here who get together to knit. (Age might be a little off here, but even older friends would be welcomed at this point.) Also, I've been considering volunteering at the animal shelter -- maybe I'll make a friend or two there, even if they are not human friends! Much luck to you and please do get in contact with me if you'd like someone to chat / email! :)

On preview: I'd also be willing to be a snail mail partner if you (or anyone reading this) is interested! Love getting non-bills in that mailbox...
posted by rio at 3:12 PM on February 10, 2012


Thank you again, everyone. Over the weekend I will be MeMailing those who offered in the thread and those who MeMailed me (and it sounds like we have some stuff in common, for sure). I'll also introduce myself in MetaChat and consider a Twitter account (I've been avoiding it because Facebook is already a treacherous zone for me in my current mindframe, but keeping a Twitter acccount to MeFites only could be a good thing, and something I hadn't considered).
posted by sockless at 3:40 PM on February 10, 2012


Memail me!!!

Also, seriously, get into EchoBazaar. The forums for that game are super new and everyone so far seems really nice.

The other online games I'm really into is WoW (but I'm no longer a subscriber), SecondLife (I haven't logged on in ages, but love it anyways), and Red Light Center (but only for the virtual bars and clubs).
posted by spunweb at 4:01 PM on February 10, 2012


I don't see that anyone has recommended Minecraft - its pretty fun even for those (such as myself) who aren't typically onto video games, as its more about creating than a specific end-goal. You, of course, need a good server, and there are a few options over at MeFightClub, along with a whole helluva lot of people to keep up with on the forums. I have forged true friendships from the people I met there, and sometimes I lot on to the server more to say hi and chat than to actually play the game.
posted by DoubleLune at 4:19 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh-- I forgot! If anyone has more suggestions about group projects that are going on that could use another person's help, I think it might be really good for me to feel like part of something, too.
posted by sockless at 5:12 PM on February 10, 2012


I know what isolation is like. This past week I talked to no one but my husband, and that for only about 20 minutes/day as he's gone to work before I get up, and then goes to bed early. I actually enjoy my solitude, and can be a bit of a hermit. It helps to have a passion that you can indulge--mine is being with my horses outside.

You can MeMail me if you like. I'm old enough to be your mother, but hey, some of my closest friends are younger folk.

(I'm dying of curiosity to know where you're located!!?)
posted by BlueHorse at 9:13 PM on February 10, 2012


Could you explain why you have to stay where you are for "decades"? That's probably most of the rest of your life. I've heard it takes a year to really settle into a new place. You've given it two and you're still miserable. "Decades" for adults is most of the rest of a life. It seems unfortunate that you would seek to escape into games instead of building a more satisfying life for yourself offline. But you do what you have to do - I'm just wondering if you're sure you have to do it. Is there no compromise that could get you leaving sooner than "decades" from now? Even if it means not having as much material wealth, or as stellar a career, or something like that?

In the meantime...depending on your hobbies, you might like to try Absolute Write. Have you ever thought about writing fiction? I find the interaction there to be very companionable, and then when you've written something or you're reviewing someone else's work, the "beta reader" role can seem like quite close friendship. Maybe because when writing you're baring your soul to another person, maybe because beta reading is such a supportive act to perform for someone, but I think there's something special about that online interaction. Even if you don't like to write but do like to read and read a lot, you could beta.
posted by hazyjane at 12:17 AM on February 11, 2012


If there aren't too many people on your list to memail, then feel free to memail me too.

I live in the UK, I'd be happy to send you random e-mails or letters or something.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 3:47 AM on February 11, 2012


If you decide to use Twitter, you don't have to attach your real name to it anywhere. And you can make your account private, so that only people you allow can see your tweets.

Mefites on twitter will hug you when you're wallowing in self pity, celebrate your successes large and small, be outraged with you when something needs outrage, party with you on Friday & Saturday nights, share recipes with you (both cocktail and food), and exclaim over photos of your latest baby/cat/latest craft project. Also, they're funny!
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:56 AM on February 11, 2012


I've made some good friends at altdotlife.com

Also, it seems like there are always mefites playing glitch & chatting in the side window. Memail me if you'd like an invite.
posted by belladonna at 8:18 AM on February 11, 2012


I like using sites like livemocha.com to learn a language. They have also been great to make friends, and you can make friends who are your own age and gender -- and maintain a relationship with them as you both learn.

I would also recommend volunteering, e.g: http://www.onlinevolunteering.org
posted by ramenopres at 8:34 PM on February 12, 2012


Good god, this hits home with me right now. I'm currently living somewhere where I don't know the language enough to have real conversations with people and my wife is living on the other side of the world for a while. My interests are a little off the mainstream path, especially here. It's lonely and workplace and online interactions aren't enough.
posted by melt away at 3:34 AM on February 13, 2012


UPDATE: So, it's been just over a month and my life has been dramatically changed for the better for having asked this question. I've got some really awesome internet pen-pals and people to gChat with, and my life is now enhanced with even just small daily interactions with people all over the world, and I can honestly say that the loneliness has subsided. I have an energy each day that I had lost, and every part of my life has improved as a result of just feeling better. I feel really fortunate. If there are others out there who feel like I felt, please message me.

At the urging of one member in particular, I have started a blog about where I am and why I'm here-- the link is in my profile if you're interested. I've also set up a Twitter account and am going to introduce myself around there, too.

Sincerely, thank you everyone.
posted by sockless at 2:46 PM on March 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


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