Buddy sites can help build your own network of friends
Gone are the days when you looked for special friends in chat rooms and dating sites. One-to-one connections are now paving way for a totally new concept called friendship networks.
Thomas Dukes, a member of Friendster says: "Earlier we used to bump into total strangers and it took lot of time building trust and bonding. Now things are easier because your good friends themselves are introducing you to another new friend and that retains the element of genuineness."
That's the formula working behind these friendship network sites like Friendster and Everyonesconnected. You start on by registering and creating your profile. Then invite your likeminded friends to join your group. When registering, your friends invite their friends and the whole exchange develops into a chain, creating your own wide gang of friends online.
Muhammad Aslam, who runs a cyber café in suburban Mumbai, finds such communities extremely helpful for those who are interested in genuine friendships. "All kinds of people flock in chat rooms and it is really tough to find genuine friends. Now I have four very good online friends from different parts of the world and the whole thing is pretty exciting!"
In Making Friends Online, a Yahoo! group, you will find seniors seeking good friendships. Caterina Sullivan is a 60-year-old widow based in Miami, whose search for someone to get rid of the loneliness her age has created led her to this group.
"My grandchildren introduced me to the powers of Internet. I was soon introduced to some of the excellent online groups where I could make many good friends. Now we exchange mails and chat often. I am even able to keep myself busy with the charity works our groups organise across US."
Andrew Jones from Portland, member of an online friendship group, is amazed at the way such groups are keeping in touch with everyday happenings in each other's lives: "After joining the group and frequenting the message board for some time, I had to rush to my ailing grandparents. Before leaving, I left a message about my reason for being away. When I came back, I was surprised at the number of replies I received conveying prayers for a speedy recovery of my grandparents."
Muhammad Aslam was in for many pleasant surprises on his birthday, from his cyber circle. "I received greeting cards and gifts by postal mail from some of these friends and others made it a point to wish me online."
"Apart from making you feel good, these groups even convert as a stage for exchanging information on cultural differences and lifestyles since you are connecting with people across the globe," Aslam adds.
These networks connect likeminded friends since you are getting to know a stranger through a common friend of yours. So it is all about people who share common passions, hobbies and interests.
For a travel enthusiast like Madhu Das from Bangalore, they provide interesting partners. "I have already made trips to Sri Lanka and Bangkok in the company of friends I made online. It is always special to meet people who share a common passion," he says.
Such groups could turn out to be your comfort zones as well. "There, your problems never go unnoticed," says Mona Varkey from Mumbai. According to her, at least someone is there to share your worries during difficult times. "For an introvert like me, such groups come real handy," she adds.
"When you are having any doubt related to anything under the sun, just post them to the message board or mail group of your online friends circle. Believe me, you will get at least a couple of useful emails in reply," remarks Madhu. "It is not just having friends for the sake of it. It has matured to a level where you can depend on such friends in real life situations."
(Some names in this story are changed to protect privacy)
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