Tech, Now + Beyond

Looking for a best friend? There’s an app for that.

What if making friends is really as simple as a swipe or push of a button?

Fostering meaningful friendships is no simple feat, especially as we move through our twenties.

In our efforts to establish our careers, families or other personal ventures, our ability to meet people and create long-lasting friendships as we did in grade school or college becomes stifled. We have less free time, and therefore have to get creative about how we meet new people.

But we’re in 2017.

We’re living in an age where online portals like Tinder and Facebook are at our fingertips.

What if making friends is really as simple as a swipe or push of a button?

Much like how tech has taken the dating world by storm, digital platforms are now transforming how we find friends. We’re not just swiping to match compatibility with a romantic interest—we’re also searching for real friendships.

Hey! Vina, for instance, is made by women, for women to make friends. Users simply swipe right to get more information on their potential bestie: personality traits, guilty pleasures and themselves in five emojis. After that, the platform sends you a personal message encouraging you and your potential friend to introduce yourselves and make plans for coffee or wine.

Friender focuses on activities you enjoy, helping you and a potential friend find better common ground. The app only matches you with other users who share at least one common interest, so you can rest assured that you’ll have something to talk about when you do meet up.

Social media has also become a dynamic way to meet others with shared interests  Facebook groups can often foster book clubs, virtual discussion groups, places of solidarity, or even meetups in different cities.

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Dating app UX works by combining biodata diversity, geolocation services and algorithms that match people based on mutual likes. The same UX is also used for friendship making apps since the ultimate goal is to match people by compatibility.

These apps seem to have match-making down to a science. The digital platforms we use may even be doing a better job at matchmaking than ourselves.

But can we really find sincere friendships over an app?

Technology has no doubt simplified and enhanced our lives. We’re connecting to each other in ways that are seemingly more dynamic than ever before, even in how we befriend each other. At the same time, it can also stifle quality human interaction and make it less organic. Hanging out with people can often be dominated by everyone intently scrolling through their newsfeeds than it is by fruitful conversation.

The way our friendships grow is still very much in our own hands, regardless of tech’s role in it. In fact, the tools that we believe are stripping away genuine, human moments are actually the very tools that are improving our social lives by giving us a chance at those encounters.

For instance, according to USA Today, over one-third of recent marriages in the U.S. began with online dating. The study also found that relationships that began digitally were happier than their traditional counterparts.

Friend-making apps are coming more into fashion, and it’s only a matter of time before the stigma around meeting potential friends online wears away.

Mobile apps and social media platforms don’t guarantee lifelong friendship. Instead, they’re act like a friend setting you up on blind dates. An app can go as far as setting you up with someone it thinks is compatible, but it is up to us to take it to the next step. Although technology doesn’t sustain friendships for us, it can certainly help start them.

Adulting is tough, especially when so many of us end up putting our social lives on the back burner. When you’re living in a new city or all of your close friends have moved away, it can get lonely.

There is no shame in using tech to ease the process of making friends.

Sure, awkward encounters may ensue because there’s no way of knowing how these people are in person, but that’s really the fun of meeting new people. Friendship is often found in unexpected ways, and the authenticity of compatibility is what makes them last forever.