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Published November 29 2012

Benshoof: Plugged in, seeking new friends

FARGO – This probably comes as no surprise, but the Internet sure is great. It teaches me, it entertains me and it confuses me.

But can it help me make a friend?

That was the question I asked last week after a friend of mine heartlessly left us for “bigger” and “better” things in St. Paul.

To find out, I put out a posting on social media to seek his replacement.

I described what my remaining friends and I are like and what we are looking for in our new best pal. I made sure to include pop culture references applicants should get and where they should like to hang out.

Admittedly, the whole thing started out as something of a joke.

“Look,” my friends and I were saying to our now-departed friend, “we can easily replace you just by putting an ad on the Internet.” (I’m sure the friend enjoyed the joke just as much as we did.)

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized the posting actually raised some legitimate questions for a 20-something like myself: Where, and how, do we make friends at this point in our lives, and could the Internet help me do that?

Meeting new people can be tough. People my age have our friends from high school and college, but eventually there comes a time when we’re forced to make new ones.

If we move to a new city for a job opportunity, for example, and are suddenly faced with the prospect of having to start from scratch? Where do we go? What do we do?

The best bets would seem to be places where people of similar age or interests gather. Church, exercise classes, community education classes and bars might all seem like viable options.

But if all of those fail, then what? Could I use social media to make a new friend? Online dating works (or so I hear), so why not online friending?

Before I deleted my post prior to running this column, I received five separate responses, all of varying degrees of seriousness.

Some took the effort to explain their qualifications (one went so far as to list his zodiac, which I did not ask for), while others said they could always use new friends and gave me their number. One, in the most obvious form of pandering, threw in a “Game of Thrones” reference into the subject line. Well played, sir.

But unfortunately, I couldn’t see the plan through to the end. As with many online interactions I didn’t trust the applicants. Plus, my boss was just really wary I would get shanked.

My friends and I also would have needed to interview each candidate, and meeting new people can just be so exhausting.

For those that submitted their application to us, my friends and I thank you for considering us. We’re just not hiring at this time.

Even though I’m still down a friend, I learned an important lesson: The Internet, as good as it is, can’t do everything.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535