Nine Reasons Why It’s Harder Making Quality Friendships Today.
Social apps give us the (incorrect) impression of abundance.
An impression that, if and when you wish, innumerable people are there for the accessing at the mere touch of a button. This is far from accurate, as well as, isn’t how friendship works. The building of any quality relationship, friendship, romance, you name it, takes much time invested. Hours spent listening, getting to know this person, as well as partaking in varying activities together.
This false sense of abundance via social apps can also lend the impression that it isn't urgent to make plans with anyone or to go out and socialize. Instead, giving us an idea more along the lines of, “eh, I can do this later, or anytime.”
Not so. The friendships you currently have, if not regularly nurtured and invested in, will wither and die. And, for the finding of new friends, these do not fall into one’s lap. They must be searched out and then invested in with regular and mindful intent.
In other words, if you don’t make it happen and put a priority on spending time with people in person, both the people you are already close with, as well as those you’d like to develop a friendship with further, it ain't gonna happen.
Having a meaningful, closely emotionally connected (not mainly via online), fulfilling social life, as well as friendships? It takes time, investment, and effort. You have to go out of your way. You need to take steps to develop and make it happen. Sending a text to say, “let's hang out soon!” Or, “how have you been?” These don’t cut it. Electronic “connection” and communications do not a meaningful relationship make.
Low levels of interpersonal connectedness and high levels of individualism.
People are less and less engaged with others today, whether their neighbors, through church or volunteering, within the community at large, and via face to face connections with friends, family, and romantic partners.
While social media may have accelerated this trend, it began before the introduction of social media.
Within our highly individualistic culture, people have been drawing further away from each other, and thus, now are probably more apt to just hang at home and scroll through their Facebook feed. Or, go out to dinner with friends, while everyone periodically scrolls through their phones instead of maintaining sustained interest, engagement, and focus on each other for a few hours. Take a look around any restaurant. You will see what I am talking about.
All of which is leading to less interest in and less investment toward the building as well as maintaining high-quality connections today.
The after-college conundrum.
Following graduating, one finds themselves with a far less plentiful number of friends, right there for the combing and taking.
During college, we have hundreds upon hundreds of friend options, right at our fingertips. In the classroom, our roommates, via friends of friends, within extracurricular activities, sports teams, at parties, you name it. Once we leave college though, this in-your-face overflow of possible friends drops off. Now, you have to put more effort into searching out friends.
Further, in college, we tend to just befriend whoever is around. Becoming automatic “BFFs” with our roommates, and being friends with those guys and girls “because our friends are too.” We do not exercise nearly as much thoughtful discretion as we should, regarding choosing carefully with whom to spend our time. Instead, we sort of just fall in with people who are there.
Thus, many people have no clue later in life how to go about considering and choosing friends who are likely both people with good character, as well as good matches for them specifically.
Learned rudeness becoming the norm.
Imagine if, mid-conversation with a friend, right when he or she is in the middle of telling a personal, meaningful story, I pulled a book out of my purse, opened it, and began reading. With nary a word of explanation. Just started reading. That friend would be, understandably, stunned, offended, and hurt.
Yet, we do this every single day, and throughout our social interactions, all the time. We do it with our cellphones.
Because “everyone does it,” so it then must be ok. It must not be that bad, or that rude, because it is “normal” now.
Take a look across our political landscape. How royally messed up and mind-boggling is that sh*t show? Also consider how women are still today, treated with degradation, objectification, and abuse, and often.
Thus, just because something is commonplace, or has become widely adopted, or “a lot of people are doing it” does not mean it’s good, healthy, or even kind.
We have come to adopt, accept, and treat each other with dismissiveness and rudeness regularly, all because “everyone else is doing it.” This is coming at a grave cost. The taking away from, chipping away at, and diminishing of our interpersonal connections with others.
Lack of education or real interest in social skills and learning to be a good friend.
Most people do not have a lot of interest in seeking out further learning with regards to communication skills, how to both be a good friend to others, as well as choose good friends, or with regard to skills such as how to be a better listener. This comes at a cost within their interpersonal relationships, and the quality those then might be.
Most people are not great listeners, for starters. Consider the people within your life. How many of them do you feel truly focus on, hear, and fully listen to you most, if not all of the time? Probably not many of them. This is an area in which a lot of people could stand to improve and grow. Yet, most people do not even have the awareness that they are not a good listener, nor do they care to take efforts to improve it.
Every one of us can always stand to learn. We can all ever improve our communication skills, as well as, improve on the type of friend we are.
If more people were open to, as well as interested in this, there would likely be far more high quality, satisfying social connections.
Mostly self-created, over the top “busyness.”
People today are “busier” than ever. I was just speaking on the phone with a close friend in Germany on this topic. Lamenting to him that I felt I’d hit it off with a handful of people recently (aka, potential friends), said people even telling me so. A few of them even making remarks like, “Brooke, it was so great spending time with you, I loved it.”
And yet, when I reach out to them soon thereafter to make plans again, they are “so busy”, “too busy”, and will “get in touch when they are free.”
I felt sad, pondering to him that it must be something I’m doing, because this seems to be a pattern.
He disagreed, remarking that both he and his wife experience receipt of the same sentiment, and often. And that is over in Germany. Coupled with the fact that they are incredibly nice people.
This seems to be a prevalent cultural theme today. Everyone is “just too busy” for focusing on, taking time for, and cultivating meaningful connections in their lives. They “just don’t have time.” And this is costing everyone.
We’re becoming overly sensitive, socially fearful, and are coming to lack emotional resilience.
I’ve heard, an alarming number of times in the last few years, young adults remark things like:
“I don’t want to meet up with him. I wouldn’t know what to talk about.”
(This, in reference to actually going on a date with the man whom she was chatting with via text).
How, might I ask, else can you possibly get to know someone then…?
“I feel nervous and weird having a conversation with someone, I don't know, it’s awkward.”
(Is it? Isn’t this how you form a connection with and get to know another human being?)
“I am not going to hang out with him or her, because I am not sure we have similar interests.”
Writing someone off because they might be or think different from you? That is a surefire way to keep your social circle stunted, homogenous, and one-dimensional.
And then the advertisement I see every night at my gym: “Never have to deal with an awkward silence or moment again.” It’s an ad for headphones.
So basically, we should shut people out with our earbuds, and avoid real-life conversation- the means by which humans actually form relationships and meaningful connections with each other, because we “don’t want to deal with the awkwardness.”
Awkwardness is part and parcel with human interaction. It’s a given. In any and all relationships, both emotionally close and known ones, as well as those in which you are just getting to know them, awkwardness can and will arise. You just deal with and move through it. It cannot be avoided. It is an unavoidable aspect of human communications.
Thus, when it’s decided that you “don’t want to deal with any awkwardness” so will now avoid it, you are cutting off the chance for meaningful relationships to develop, as well as to remain emotionally close with the ones in your life.
Breaking down of boundaries between work and personal life.
Many people, though they leave work for the day, or weekend, are rarely fully away from work anymore. With emails on our phones, texting, and social media, we are ever reachable, always on call, and constantly available.
And, with workaholism for many being something they claim as a badge of honor, one of the many unhealthy values and mindsets in America, people now work far more than forty hours weekly. More often today, people live to work, leaving little space, time, or energy left over for the rest of their lives.
Self-centeredness on the rise.
With our ever increasing look-at-me, selfie centered culture, people are less interested in others and more interested in “me!” Young adults can even spend a few hours on a given selfie, and this on a weekly or even daily basis. All of which, for the outer validation and reaction of others.
We are all about “likes” and status, about how “cool” we seem or how “popular” we are. None of this offering any real value or depth to our relationships, lives, or inner character. All of which is shallow and surface based. None of it providing any lasting fulfillment or satisfaction, other than fleetingly so.
We are growing into a culture that is hyper-focused on how others see, react to, and approve of us, all at the cost of more authentic interest and focus placed on others. We are turning inward, rather than outward. We are focused on the reflection and image in front of us, rather than on the cultivation of deep, outer connections.