Ryan Blitstein must have been feeling popular, and well-liked. He had friends, plenty of them. But everything he knew about these people, his gobs of friends, was through Facebook: tid-bit updates, and answers to predictable questions on status—of relationship, job, apartment search. Nothing deeper, no time for questions, take from it what you will.
He was fine with this level of interaction for a while. But suddenly, now he is is wanting more. What he and his girlfriend want are real, whole, deep friendships, he confides in this article he wrote for Slate.
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Trouble is, both of them have forgotten how to forge a real bond with someone, in person and on the fly.
"There is a vast gulf between vaguely keeping in touch with someone and actually sharing, experiencing, exploring and all the other things you give and get and take from a close friendship," he writes. "I find it increasingly difficult to cross over that gulf with those I'm meeting now. It's a poignant thing to be a full-grown human and realize you're deficient in something that seems so effortless for children."
The couple is trolling for Meet-up groups and Craigslist ads. And they are not alone in this search. Lately we have been hearing other people, twenty- and thirtysomethings asking if we know about a certain meet-up group or cooking club, or if we can recommend a book club. People are wanting to connect but many are at a loss as to how. The solution? More time spent behind the keyboard making strategies, searching for friends.
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Could this be the beginning of a backlash against social networking?
Here's an idea: We should have a Meet-a-Thon. You sign up in your respective town. Then, on the designated day, each registrant has 24 hours to go outside, walk the streets, enter the parks and cafes, hit up the clubs (from cooking to book) and meetings, and just start talking to people. At the end of the day, numbers are tallied. Winner takes friends.