Friends. Are you in the “who needs ‘em” category, the “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”, or do you have #SquadGoals? Ladies, I am here to tell you that you do need friends- and not just the virtual variety the IRL (In Real Life) kind. Problem is, in today’s digital world, it is progressively more difficult to make friends – would you agree? It seems people are so busy and closed off that we end up being our own BFF or relying on a spouse to meet that need.
It’s especially difficult if you are a Millennial. According to a YouGov poll:
“25% of Millennials say they have no acquaintances , no friends (22%), no close friends (27%), and no best friends (30%)” 30 percent claim that they feel lonely all the time!
The poll didn’t draw conclusions as to why MIllennials felt so isolated but, when I put my thinking cap on, I can draw just one conclusion – STUPID SMART PHONES!
Yes, that’s my unofficial diagnosis, smartphones are ruining our mental health. Some people claim 5G is ruining our physical health too, but that’s a discussion for another time. It’s the epidemic of loneliness that concerns me and my, very real, fear that the next generation of digital natives is going to have it even worse.
And before you GenX and Baby Boomers smirk condescendingly in the corner, remember this..the elderly experience loneliness too- and at a significant rate. So while you might be downing glasses of Rose with your besties today – chances are you’ll be flipping through the TV Guide on your tablet in 15 years complaining nothing good is on TV anymore ALL. BY. YOURSELF.
So, how can we make friends, for the inexperienced Millennial and Digital Native? And how do we keep making friends and sustain the friendships we have when life gets super busy?
First, we’ve got to MAKE TIME FOR FRIENDS. Imagine you cut out TV and Social Media. How many hours a week would that free up? You DO know that you can actually relax without a phone or TV program, right? Thousands of years of humanity supports my claim. You will, absolutely, NOT die of boredom- I promise! Cut out the digital stuff a few days a week and, by no miracle, you will have freed up a few hours of time to BE with people IRL.
BE WELCOMING – They say you have to be a friend to make a friend and, believe it or not, they aren’t lying. Being a friend means not only making time but using that time to benefit someone else. Ask about your new friend’s life, listen more than talk, remember important dates (OK, you can use the smartphone for this purpose), do thoughtful things. Actually, talk to your neighbors. You know, those people that literally surround you while you sleep? Yeah, they like friends too – you should be theirs.
GET ACTIVE – No, you don’t have to run a marathon but you have to actually participate in society. No more keyboard warriors! Go volunteer instead. Join a book club, learn a new craft, yoga class, or self-help seminar. Stop doing things you enjoy all by yourself. There are other people in the world who like to do what you like to do – do it with them!
GET UNCOMFORTABLE – When you don’t have friends, or few friends, it’s hard to put yourself out there. Newsflash, they are just as uncomfortable as you. Push past it and put yourself out there. Hell, wear a “Hi, My Name Is” tag if you have to! Making a new friend is kind of like dating, except you don’t have to have sex with them, eventually! Make it a point to say hello to someone new every day. You never know who you’ll meet! Your new BFF could be sitting in the never-ending pick-up line at your kids’ school – FIND HER! A lot of people claim to be “socially awkward” Nah, baby, you are just inexperienced. The more you do it, the easier it will become. I PROMISE!
How about you? Are you the Taylor Swift of friendship #SquadGoals? A dedicated loner? Any tips to make friends? We want to hear it!