Contrary to what many people believe, I don’t think everything will go digital. There is value in physical interaction that can’t be recreated over a Zoom call. However, the barriers to meeting new people are much higher than before.
Friendships, whether online or offline, are made by showing up. It’s rarely the things you think will be memorable that define a lasting friendship. Rather, it’s the quiet moments — the blurring together of conversations that leave a pleasant and distinctive shape in your memory.
In Nurturing Curiosity, I wrote:
There is still a stigma that you can’t make “real friends” online. Knowing that meaningful connections can be made online is one of the biggest secrets I believe to be true about the world that most people don’t agree with. I, like many others, grew up with the internet shaping a large part of my social development. I’ve made both acquaintances and deep friendships with people whom I’ve only interacted with digitally. Anyone who plays computer games or frequents Internet forums will tell you that the influence of these friends is no less real than the people who you meet offline through work, school, or hobbies.
My bet is something that I call the reverse social network. Most social networks exist to connect you with people that you already know. Now that we’re spending eleven hours per day online, our interests have become disengaged from our physical settings. There is money to be made in finding ways to connect people who share interests online but would otherwise never meet.