In a world where online forums and social media have made it easier for strangers to interact without being recognized as real people, a new scam that’s taking advantage of this trust has become particularly lucrative.
“People just want to be loved and accepted and to feel like they are loved and respected, even if they aren’t,” said Lauren Smith, the founder of the online peer counseling platform PeerBoys.
“But if you don’t have that same kind of relationship, you’re not going to be happy.”
The term “peer-out” refers to someone who is part of a group or community that has decided to not accept anyone else, and they are not part of any organization.
“It’s very scary, because now you’re basically living in your own bubble,” said Smith.
“You don’t really have anybody else to turn to if you need to go somewhere, and you can’t go back and forth from your online group.”
Smith has been helping others to get out of this kind of predicament.
She’s had more than 1,000 people who have gotten out of their online groups by signing up for peer counseling sessions.
“What we’re really finding is that people are really, really desperate for support,” she said.
“They’re just desperate to be able to connect with people in real life.”
A lot of people will do this to escape a relationship or to feel loved, and often, this “real life” connection will be the only thing keeping them connected online.
But the problem for Smith and others is that the online community of people who are in peer counseling groups doesn’t necessarily exist in real lives.
“People who are going through that process of disconnection can be extremely lonely and lonely and disconnected and can be quite frightening,” she added.
That’s why, for now, Smith and other online peer counselors have been working to create peer counseling forums.
The first of these groups has been launched at a social media platform called Reddit.
“The idea of creating an online forum where people can connect and talk about issues is incredibly appealing,” said Matt Bessette, the CEO of Reddit.
“We are very excited to see what these communities will look like in the future.”
A few of the first groups started up with just one moderator and a few users.
But Smith said there’s been an overwhelming response from people.
“I’ve had so many people say they want to create more groups, they want more moderators, they would love to make it more like an online dating site, to help people get out there and find each other,” she explained.
The groups have since grown to more than 200 members.
People are sharing their stories and sharing their thoughts and concerns.
“One of the problems with online dating is that you don, at a certain point, feel like you’re really alone,” said Bessettes.
“It’s not an easy thing to navigate.”
It’s a good thing, Bessets said, that people aren’t going to just turn to the Internet for support.
People need to find the right community and the right help.
“The people who need help need to be in groups,” he added.
“If you can create groups where people feel safe to be alone, they will do that.
They will find each others and they will find the support.”
Bessette said that he hopes the sites will help people feel safer and feel supported in the long run.
“When people talk about peer counseling, they’re thinking of it as a short-term solution, but it’s really a long-term way to help them get out and be happier and feel loved,” he said.