While Americans may be facing a rise in prices that feel like inflation, we are dealing with a recession in our personal lives. Studies have revealed that people, especially adults, are in a friendship desert.
Unlike more intimate or family relationships, friendships — traditionally in their purest form — have been ones of radical equal equality. This meant that friendships were ones of like-minded, or passionate interests. An equal footing of a friendship didn’t involve any hierarchy or transactional quality, which is something that is far from the norm for most.
Several surveys have revealed that adults, who should have formed friendships by now, are actively seeking friends. Though the sample isn’t a meta-study, of the people surveyed, those who reported having no close friends have gone up to double digits, almost twelve percent. Compare that with the 1990s, which was at a low of two to three percent. While you may think this friendlessness is an isolated phenomenon for a specific group of people, it is affecting people of all races, and genders in both metro and non-metro areas.
There are a lot of factors of the 21st century playing into the friendless world. People focusing excessively on work have limited chances of interacting with coworkers and friends outside of work. A decrease in group activities (remember rotary clubs and bowling leagues?) and an uptick in individualized hobbies further increased isolation. Recreational interaction — like exercising and shopping with friends — is also on the downturn. Spaces, especially spaces for young people to meet, are becoming few and far between. Gone are the days of arcades, soda fountains, and pizza parlors.
So what can be done? Modern-day life is making isolation easier to do, so like a habit, you have to be mindful and active in your pursuit and preservation of friendships. Nowadays, it’s hard to just chat up a conversation with a neighbor over the fence or converse with your friend you pass in the aisles of the local supermarket. The time it takes to send a message is better used by making a phone call. In this study, phone calls helped people read others’ emotions and feelings, reducing misunderstandings. Essentially without a voice to provide tone, modern-day digital communication can lead to misread meanings. Better yet, hearing someone’s voice strengthens ties with your friends.
The next best thing is creating situations with common grounds, an easy way to do so is around food. Preparing, cooking, and eating the same food with neighbors, acquaintances, and friends is an easy way to develop friendships and create trust. The medium of food is an equal playing field for people to openly discuss a variety of topics as well as safely talk about food (which is a neutral topic for many). Whether it be a fruit canning event with your old friend or sharing a casserole dinner with the neighbors, food is a great common ground for many.SKM: below-content placeholder