In today’s world, technology has become an integral part of our lives. We are constantly connected to the digital world through our smartphones and social media.
While this connectivity has its advantages, many of us feel more isolated and lonely than ever. However, technology can also be used to combat these negative emotions.
Before we tell you about some of the tech that can help you feel less alone, it’s important that we also remind you to be cautious and always use good judgment when interacting with people on social media, apps, video chat or websites. There are plenty of really good people out there to meet, just be extra aware that there are also some bad people who want to take advantage of you.
1. Get on the apps
There are tons of apps out there that can help you meet people. One app called Meetup is designed to allow you to join groups based on common interests and meet up with people in your area who have the same interests as you. These interests can be anything from beekeeping to bike riding.
There are lots of other apps as well, such as Peanut for new moms, Tandem for people who want to learn new languages, and Stitch: which connects people over 50 for social activities and events. It’s a great way to meet new people and make friends. Whatever you’re interested in, there is likely an app for it where you can meet people to connect with.
2. Social media
Social media is another great tool for people because they can join groups and communities to meet new people and engage in discussions. Facebook offers millions of different groups, both public and private. There are public groups for Netflix recommendations, groups for people who love to cook, you name it.
Many small towns and regions throughout America have community groups on Facebook as well, such as Long Island Moms or the Houston Bridal Network. Search keywords of your interests on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and see what you can find.
3. Video chat or virtual events
Lots of social events are held via video chat as well so that people can meet each other face-to-face from the comfort of their own homes. And thanks to the pandemic, there are pretty much virtual events for everything now. You can try a virtual murder mystery adventure if that’s something that interests you. Or if you’re interested in the arts and none of your friends are, try finding an online art exhibition and meet those who have the same appreciation as you. A great resource to use to search for online events that are interactive and virtual is Eventbrite. The platform offers an extensive selection of options, including live music, sports, news, webinars, fitness classes and training courses.
You can also use apps like Zoom, FaceTime and Skype to connect face-to-face with friends and family, even if you’re not physically together.
4. Online courses
Another way to not feel so alone and isolated is to take “massive open online courses,” — more commonly known as MOOCs. They offer free or low-cost e-learning classes on topics ranging from digital photography to paleontology and are offered by universities, nonprofits, trade groups and companies. MOOCs are ideal for knowledge-seeking older Americans as they enable workers to learn new skills that could fit in with their existing jobs and hobbyists to explore potential avenues for second careers. MOOCs can be taken at your own pace and are available via online learning platforms such as Coursera and edX.
5. Online religious services and self-help groups
For those of you who are religious or spiritual, various faith-based institutions such as churches, synagogues, temples and mosques offer the opportunity to stream their religious services. This enables you to participate in your religious practices from the comfort of your own home while also connecting with others who share your faith. This can be a valuable benefit for those of you who may not be able to physically attend services due to distance, illness or other reasons.
You can also use a website like Church Cares, which is a service that connects you with local churches and ministries to provide support for loneliness. They aim to make it easier for you to get connected with people who care and believe that connection promotes growth. They have helped over 110,000 people get connected with over 1,400 churches that are ready to offer support.
There are also virtual self-help groups available as well, such as 12-step programs that you can join. One such organization is the Herren Project, which is a national nonprofit organization that provides free resources and support for the treatment, recovery and prevention of substance use. They offer nightly live online recovery meetings on Zoom for individuals from any pathway to recovery, where meetings start with a speaker followed by fellowship and sharing. No registration is required. However, You will need to download the Zoom app on your phone or visit zoom.us on your computer to create your free account. If you wish to remain anonymous when creating a Zoom account, simply use an initial for your last name.
Remember to be careful who you meet online
Although the internet is an excellent resource, it can also be a source of danger. Many social media apps and other groups may require you to provide personal information like your email address or phone number, and you never know who you’re going to meet online. Be cautious if anyone tries to send you any links or emails, as they may be phishing scams.
Turn on Antivirus protection
Have antivirus software on your devices to make sure you will be stopped from clicking on any potential malicious links that may be sent in any of your exchanges or within any forums or message boards.
See my expert review of the best antivirus protection for your Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices by visiting CyberGuy.com/LockUpYourTech.
Turn on your VPN to protect your privacy
Many websites are able to read your IP address and, depending on their privacy settings, may display the city from which you are corresponding. A VPN will disguise your IP address to show an alternate location.
For the best VPN software, see my expert review of the best VPNs for browsing the web privately on your Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices by visiting CyberGuy.com/VPN.
Use Identity theft protection
Identity theft companies can monitor personal information like your Social Security number, phone number and email address and alert you if it is being sold on the dark web or being used to open an account. They can also assist you in freezing your bank and credit card accounts to prevent further unauthorized use by criminals.
See my tips and best picks on how to protect yourself from identity theft by visiting CyberGuy.com/IdentityTheft.
What other ways have you made friends online? We’d love to hear your stories at CyberGuy.com/Contact.
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