5 Initiatives that Turn Strangers into Friends [LIST]

Breaking barriers to cross the line from unknown to buddy

Jul 3, 2014

(Syda Productions / Shutterstock.com)

The distance between strangers and friends is not so far; yet making that switch requires a certain level of openness and desire to connect. Breaking barriers to widen your circle of acquaintances and friends is easier than you think with these five fascinating initiatives below.

1. COUCHSURFING

WHAT: A growing global community of travelers that open their homes for free to guests from around the world.
IN DEPTH: The popular platform believes in expanding your social circles by either hosting or hanging out with someone traveling from abroad. People connect on the site through profiles and testimonials and if there is a match, then both parties have the opportunity to share once in a lifetime experiences together, all with the potential of becoming lifelong friends.

2. BLAH THERAPY

WHAT: A free app where you can vent or be a listening ear to a stranger in need of sharing their problems.
IN DEPTH: Founded in April 2010, the online app has a community of like minded folks with a myriad of issues going on in their lives, from love quandaries to deeper existential questions. The site offers professional therapists on hand for a fee, but the main point of BlahTherapy is to seek help from a stranger, bonding over mutually shared feelings or experiences.

3. I TALK TO STRANGERS

WHAT: A social movement which aims to unite diverse racial, ethnic, political and socio-economic groups through conversation.
IN DEPTH: At 26 years old, ITTS founder old Robbie Stokes took a trip around the world with a focus on talking to strangers. He turned his travels into a documentary and since then has been spreading the word of dialogue and peace through speaking tours and events.

4. SELFLESS PORTRAITS

WHAT: A Facebook app in which you get your portrait drawn by a stranger in exchange for drawing their profile picture.
IN DEPTH: Portraits are paired at random, and once a person is assigned, the participant has 48 hours to complete the drawing and submit it - or the image will be reassigned to someone else. Once you receive your portrait, you can thank the person who drew your picture and do the Facebook dance - share with your friends and even turn it into your profile pic.

5. 20 DAY STRANGER

WHAT: An app where for 20 days you and a stranger anonymously share one another’s worlds via photos and minimal text, opening a tiny window into the everyday life of someone else.
IN DEPTH: A social experiment of sorts, the app has a catch: you will never know who you are communicating with, or exactly where they are; only at the end of the 20 days will you be able to get in touch. The iPhone app is currently in beta testing mode, but those interested can sign up to participate and start their anonymously shared human experience right away.