Millions of people all over the country are turning to the Internet - so they can get off the Internet.
Unlike Facebook and Twitter, which focus on keeping peoples' social interactions online, a growing number of social-networking sites are helping users take online connections offline.
The idea is simple: make your initial meeting online. Then meet in person, in the real world.
Entrepreneurs are running with the concept. For instance, Eddy Lu and Daishin Sugano created Grubwithus, a social dining network that brings people together over tasting menus at restaurants. "Grubbers" can browse and reserve seats at meals online or from an iPhone, and then show up, meet new people, eat and chat.
Lu and Sugano came up with the idea after moving from Los Angeles to Chicago and realizing how hard it was to meet new friends.
"We're five years out of college, and it was really hard meeting new people in a new city," Lu says. "We tried bars and clubs, but it's so hard and inefficient. It's hard to make a meaningful connection."
Grubwithus took off.
"Immediately meals sold out," Lu said. "We realized this is a service people want - and need."
Since that first meal in Chicago in 2010, Grubwithus has expanded to more than 50 cities. Grubwithus tripled its users in 2012 and now have more than 80,000 grubbers.
"The nice thing about Grubwithus is that you are breaking bread with people," says grubber Jay Bradfield, 35, of San Francisco. "There is something inherently social about a meal. Around a table people are going to be social."
Newly launched SupperKing, also based around food, sets itself apart as a mobile app that allows foodies to open up a home-cooked meal or dinner party to the general public.
SupperKing CEO Kai Stubbe, has lived in Germany, Chile, Australia, China and now Los Angeles. In every country, he faced the problem of making new friends in a new place.
Since the company's launch in December, there have been more than 50 SupperKing events in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Hosts post information about the meal they are cooking, the price, location and how many seats are available.
"An experience, that's what we want to create," Stubbe says. "It's an experience and a lifestyle of meeting new people and going places you haven't been before."
Kevin Sorby, 35, of Oak Park, Ill. uses a different site to meet new friends - Meetup - along with 13 million other people all over the world,11 million in the U.S.
Instead of just hosting events, Meetup offers a platform for users to form groups and communities based on interests and plan events.
"The events are what makes its awesome - that's what makes people find their people," says Andres Glusman, Meetup vice president for strategy, product and community. "We are living in a time where people are starting to realize just how important it is to meet people, in person, that share your passion."
The top Meetup categories are: moms, hiking and outdoors activities and business. And the options continue to grow - every nine seconds.
"There about 300,000 meetups a month. That means that a meetup starts in the world every nine seconds," Glusman says. "We are on pace to hit about 2.5 million RSVPs this month."
The organization is growing twice as fast as it did last year, and it is expecting 10,000 to 15,000 new groups to form this January.
Sorby has gone to a few dozen Meetup events.
"One of the first things we did was join a ski group," he says. "We went out to dinner, got drinks and ended up planning a ski trip."
Sorby has been more successful making friends through work, the gym and other clubs than he has with Meetup. Even so, he says he has enjoyed the experience and will continue to join Meetup groups.
"The good thing is that you do meet a diverse group of people," Sorby says. "But it's luck of the draw if the people you meet live near you."
Bisnow, an online news source, hosts content-based gatherings and networking events that draw anywhere from five to 700 people per event.
"The events took off three years ago doing four or five events a year in D.C., in New York," Bisnow events manager Stephen Ball says. "But it really took off, and we did nearly 300 events in 2012 in 28 cities in the U.S. and Canada."
At events not related to a certain topic, it's not uncommon to see people from every industry and ages 21 to 70-plus showing up for food, drinks and networking.
Bisnow charges a bit more - $39 to $59 dollars compared to Grubwithus' average $31.43. But Ball says the organization strives to give guests a more upscale experience.
"We struck at a very opportune time," Ball says. "We came out and did affordable networking events for a long time when the economy was down and everyone was looking to make a deal."
Natalie DiBlasio, USA TODAY