How Reddit is helping London newcomers, friendship seekers find buddies

The official London, Ont., friendship thread has more than 60 comments from London users sharing their personal bios.

An online post features comments from Londoners seeking friendship

The Official London, Ont., Friendship Thread has more than 60 comments from London users sharing their personal bios. (CBC)

At first glance, you'd think you've stumbled upon an ad on a dating app but one of the latest posts on social media platform Reddit features a growing list of Londoners not looking for love, but friendship.

Posts by users

  • Jay26Canada: "34, male ... I'm into tiny houses, minimalism, earthships and just generally interested in the way people live alternatively. I'm down to do pretty much anything that isn't sports or drinking."
     
  • Geemoney55: "I'm a 25 year old female … Looking for some new friends to explore, cook, hike and connect with! :)"
     
  • Drjallz: "Female, 32, in a relationship, no kids. I do have a dog! … I have a rad sense of humour so if you find yours pretty quirky, we might work out as friends!"

"It's no different than if someone was looking for a date," said Kyle Mackie, also known as "kwud" online.

"This is using the site first to connect with someone and then switch over to phone calls and texting and then [real life]."

Two years ago, the 24-year-old signed up on the site that allows people to post links and share ideas to generate some form of discussion.  

He remained an observer until last week when he stumbled upon a thread — also known as a subreddit — called "The Official London, Ontario Friendship Thread!" It featured more than 60 comments from London users sharing their personal bios.

For Mackie, fate was calling. 

The newly established rock climber was searching for teammates after his friends didn't show much interest in the sport.

"I saw the thread and thought 'You know what maybe there are other people out there that could really use a rock climbing buddy but didn't have anyone to do it with,'" said Mackie, who has already connected with an interested user since the thread was initiated last week.

The thread suggests that it's there for "newcomers and people searching for others with similar interests."

'It's potentially troubling'

The thread was posted on Monday Feb 26. on Reddit. (Reddit)

Although Mackie has so far kept most of his Reddit interactions within the online sphere, he's well prepared for the real-life introduction.

"I'll tell them where to meet if we're going to meet [and] it's obviously going to be in a public place. [I'll] send where [I'm] going and doing to someone else as well," he said, adding that he's taking safety precautions.

It's the fear of who's behind the screen that's left Jacquelyn Burkell with some speculations about the online thread.

"It's exciting, it's interesting and it's potentially troubling," said Burkell, who's the assistant dean of research at the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at Western University.

She supports the online method but said parents and guardians will have to consider a new way of teaching their children about the dangers related to online interactions.  

"The rule when I was a kid was don't talk to strangers. Now, who's a stranger? We have to think about what kinds of interactions we can have with people we know in an online way and not an offline way."

Burkell said the changing nature of forming friendships won't escape the online sphere anytime soon, and because of this, she said "we should embrace the change and we embrace it thoughtfully."