Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Survey: Average American Hasn’t Made a New Friend in 5 Years (studyfinds.org)
78 points by Vaslo 12 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 52 comments





Our society is desperate for more social organizations in real life. Where are things like the rotary club, the elks lodge, the masons? Cultures that live in the real world? Businesses to support those groups? Fan groups seem to do okay, with conventions that make meeting up regularly a part of the culture. Board gamer groups do a decent job of mixing in the low range.

Its hard to find places in society where people go to meet other people. Bars are sort of them, but you tend to meet a lot of alcoholics. Hobby/activity groups are frequently too uncentered, culturally.


Second with boardgaming. Regularly playing competitive games in a friendly atmosphere can lead to new friendships in your 40s, as I have found out. Boardgaming can satisfy the three conditions for making new friends: ". . . proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other."

See https://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/fashion/the-challenge-of-...


Where are things like the rotary club, the elks lodge, the masons?

Freemason here. These groups are right where they always have been and, speaking for the Masons at least, are always interested in new members. Find a lodge in your area by googling "<your state/country> grand lodge" and drop them an email. You just might find what you're looking for.


There's something oddly delightful about the contrast between "freemasons are a secret shadowy club wanting to take over the world" and "we're always looking for members, just drop us an email".

What do Freemasons actually do? Why would one join?


But what do Freemasons do? How do I know if I'm right for the organization?

Hah, just wrote almost word for word the same response.

https://www.meetup.com/ is along these lines, but it's been around for years so it's obviously not a complete solution. There are special-interest groups on there but also broader "I'm in my 20s/30s and just want to be social" groups.

Meetup works really well in my city. Recently a few friends started a meetup group for a taco night with other folks in the tech scene- no speakers, no frameworks, just some people getting together after work. Some of the group that set up the event came, but because it was on meetup, several total strangers joined us and we all got to hang out and shoot the breeze. Several of the people who showed up were people working remote jobs who don’t have an after work socializing option when they want one.

Thanks one example, but shows the overall idea: anybody going to a meetup event has already accepted that this a publicly known event where there will probably be some new people, and wants to socialize with new people too.


Agreed. In fact, some of the best social organizations are the ones forced on us by random chance... neighborhoods are like this.

Any social group based on a common interest (including board games) won't be a cross section of any culture, simply because it selects from a subset of people in that culture.

The default in most neighborhoods now is to not know your neighbors, everyone meets new people to talk with online, and that takes care of that impulse.

I've often thought it would be good to develop some sort of geographically based system of community for the Internet, where everyone is included in communities and sub-communities based on their physical location. So, a group of people formed by you and the people whose houses border your own, another group overlapping with that one for your neighbor's house and the ones that border it, a bigger group for the block and surrounding blocks, a bigger one for your part of the city, etc.

Edit: Forgot to explain... you'd chat, post pictures, etc social media style within the groups, and you'd be able to direct your visibility by choosing how you chat. Kind of like being in an MMORPG game, where you can use one kind of chat to talk to your group, another for your guild, another for the zone you're in, and another for the whole world.

Each person could publish anything that interested them, from pictures to links to information, and send invites to people in the local area for events or discussions.

The hard part is that people have to be automatically attached to these communities - there are a lot of people who won't care enough to opt in, there are still a lot of people who don't have internet access, there has to be policing and moderation.

It'd be necessary to work out in detail and law how to avoid its abuse, but that's true of most technology.


Nextdoor I think was an attempt at that, but it turned out that its mostly a place to talk about fears and potential problems and strangers in the neighborhood rather than bringing anyone together, for anything other than trading stuff.

I think its one of the downsides of the multiculturalism is that the common denominator in terms of culture is smaller - becoming more frequently that you just straight up don't talk to neighbors because you don't trust their motives or beliefs. As a 30-something fairly liberal queer person, I'll have only very light and shallow conversations with my elderly neighbors, because I know they're in their house with Fox News on all day, and would vote for people who'd take away my rights any day. That doesn't mean I don't help them load heavy groceries out of their cars, or offer to help with something every once in a while, but there's this big barrier of culture and especially what is "acceptable" between us.


I find that a major barrier to meeting people is simply money. I live in a large city but there are very few public gathering places appropriate for socializing.

Time is up there too, but that often ties back to money for many of today's youth.



Rave/music scene is where a lot of people make friends too.

Yup. Most of the fan-type conventions I go to have a strong overlap with that community as well. It makes it super easy to meet new people I'll get along with. But if I weren't into this sort of thing, I don't know that theres many places at all to get a similar sense of community.

This. Adding to that, drugs do help accelerate the whole 'friendship' process a lot.

This really only works when you live a lifestyle capable of supporting casual to heavy drug use, which is something that many people don't have due to their values, responsibilities, etc.

You use drugs everyday when you smoke, drink alcohol or coffee. It's not really about the substance itself (which you may choose to take small to moderate amounts if you don't want to sustain a habit) but the personalities of people you meet there and the bonding over shared sensations. In other words, it's easier to befriend the kind of people who trip and rave than the kind of people 'values' and 'responsibilities' forbid them from doing so.

Not really a "values" argument but isn't it unsafe to use drugs (even alcohol) alone with strangers? I guess for men a bit safer but still?

People with values and responsibilities tend to make friends in places like churches, which disproves your point.

>People with values and responsibilities tend to make friends in places like churches

What? Are you implying that people with values and responsibilities can't be atheist or irreligious? How about people who don't go to church due to not living in a country as religious as the land of the free, do they lack values or responsibilities? Also how does that relate to my previous post? I just don't understand your post at all.


"People who go to church have values", doesn't mean "People who don't go to church don't have values". He was just using it as an example of how people make (or used to make) friends.

To your original point about drugs helping you make friends, I'd argue that you're making friends because 1. It's a shared experience, and 2. It's taboo, which forces extra trust between you and everyone who joins. Not so much as an effect of the drugs themselves.

Others in this thread dislike that you're suggesting drugs as a way to make friends because, well drugs are taboo. It's not like you can just post "Going to a rave and doing shrooms" as a meetup event online, nor can you invite your wife and kids to go camping and do LSD, so your suggestion is not very helpful for the kinds of people here who would be having a hard time making friends in their adulthood.


>People who go to church have values", doesn't mean "People who don't go to church don't have values"

They said "people who have values go to church", which isn't the same statement. It's equivalent to "people who don't go to church don't have values". A -> B is equivalent to non-B -> non-A and so on.

>To your original point about drugs helping you make friends, I'd argue that you're making friends because 1. It's a shared experience, and 2. It's taboo, which forces extra trust between you and everyone who joins. Not so much as an effect of the drugs themselves.

We are in agreement there. The community aspect is paramount.

>It's not like you can just post "Going to a rave and doing shrooms" as a meetup event online

You absolutely can. Hell, I've been to plenty of those. (Of course they won't explicitly mention the drugs but given the clandestine or ephemeral setting and the kind of music you know what to expect.)

>nor can you invite your wife and kids to go camping and do LSD

Okay I admit I chuckled. Note that many festivals or similar events have whole families attending, complete with spouse and kids. Presumably the parents take care of the kids and don't give them acid but that doesn't prevent the friendmaking with fellow festival goers.

>so your suggestion is not very helpful for the kinds of people here who would be having a hard time making friends in their adulthood.

Most ravers are in their adulthood. Raves have been a thing for 30+ years, some of the early adopters are old enough to have grandkids.


Don't misquote me. I did not say "people who have values go to church," I said "People with values and responsibilities tend to make friends in places like churches." It is a statement that extends to any community-creating institution like a civic center, soup kitchen, etc.

Edit: I see now that you were merely replying to someone else that misquoted me. Know at least that my original post was not to say that only church-goers have values.


Presumably quite a lot of churchgoers drink coffee? And alcohol?

Casual drug use is easily placed into your normal life. You do some MDMA or LSD or alcohol over the weekend and you're back in action on Monday so long as you regulate your frequency of raving.

I think I've figured out how people don't make friends though. They find identity reasons not to. "I have values and responsibilities. I cannot do this thing." Or "I am an X. I cannot hang out with these people."

Genuinely I'm quite happy with my friends. We hang out absolutely sober now and run 10ks and half marathons together. We have each other's location shared and meet many times a week and occasionally randomly text to see if we want to hang out.

I made the majority of these friends after the age of 30 and everyone told me you can't have this spontaneity at this age. Turns out you can. You just need to find the other people.


> Casual drug use is easily placed into your normal life. You do some MDMA or LSD or alcohol over the weekend and you're back in action on Monday.

And where are the average person's children over this weekend while the parent is busy getting high?


This assumes that everyone over the age of 30 has children or wishes to have some. Of course if you are really intent on starting a family you're going to have to sacrifice your free time and social life. It's a choice many people make but it's not mandatory.

If you have kids, then the answer is: With a babysitter, at Grandma's, staying with other friends? You can choose to limit your choices. Or you can choose otherwise.

Socializing as parents is easier anyway. But even if you don't want that kind of thing, then it's up to you to make your life.

Besides you can come to a festival with your kids. You can hang out with your friends while they're getting high and just not partake. When we camp for longer festivals at least one of us will just not do drugs at all so we can have an assured ride home. And there are definitely little children around (though it's not common) at some of the friendlier mainstream parties (like the Anjuna Weekender)


Yep that’s exactly it for me. I’ve made 3 really close friends in the past 4 years and tons of other acquaintances/ friends through my local music scene.

Strange society where friendships need to be made via organisations. What about the good old chat at a pub or somewhere else and keeping friendships?

Pubs arguably were community organizations.

This days, though, a lot of people find it unsavory to spend their time around others who are consuming alcohol. Also, when political and social faultlines run deep, not everyone is confortable in environments where there is no guarantee that the other people there share one's worldview and ethics.


Brazillian jiujitsu has been wonderful for me in this regard. When you train regularly with folks, those friendships can't help but develop.

I'm curious what you mean by "Hobby/activity groups are frequently too uncentered, culturally."

I'm not American but I don't know how it's possible. Maybe I'm still young, maybe I'm living through special circumstances that will never occur again, but I make friend circles regularly. It rather snowballs easily: you get into a circle, befriend some people of the circle who introduce you to their own circles etc. I'm not especially charismatic or extravert, but I do have a range of weird/niche/obscure hobbies that are easy for people to bond over. I'm also very party-going, that may help.

I find that if you take an interest in people (actually listening to what they say), things (discover new hobbies) and cultures you can never run out of things to share. You also need not to be easily shocked by what you encounter.

I also noticed that American workplaces tend to be very sanitized environments where 'mingling' beyond a very casual level or having any deep discussion (about things like, say, religion or politics) is frowned upon and seen as 'unprofessional'. People getting fired or transfered for romantic relationships and stuff. That plus the rise of online dating (which means you can just pick people as in a supermarket, as it were, use them to fulfill whatever emotional needs you have, and discard - ghost - them without having to go through this messy social circle thingy) means there are less avenues for this 'circle snowball' effect. What a shame.


This definitely tends to change for many people as they age. Focusing on your career or raising a family removes a lot of the time and/or energy you have to dedicate to these kinds of activities.

That all takes time. In America we work a rediculous amount to survive.

I made a new friend this year, but only because we both were on the verge of suicide. (we're better now)

Too much time at work. Too less time building relationships. You know, run of the mill relationships with friends at bars, church, local park.

Exactly work

I'm not sure I follow the implications - what were those numbers a decade ago? A generation?

I might also suggest that evite.com may not be the best resource from which to get information you'll want to act on.


Good luck trying to find a copy of this survey or its methodology. As of this comment, a primary source or anything like it doesn't seem to exist online.

Turns out it's a "PR survey": https://www.onepoll.us/pr-surveys/ -- created by a company that's "uniquely positioned to offer data-led content which is guaranteed to grab headlines." Perhaps your business wants a "Personal spring clean" survey or a "Things that baffle women about men" survey; if so, these are your people.

Basically, it's a press release that happens to contain some numbers.


Is it even possible to maintain more than 2-3 close friendships as an adult? My strongest social activity with friends lately has sadly been playing video games together and chatting on discord. It’s kinda lame but the only way to do something together when you can only spare an hour or two.

One of my friend groups is around this too but I don't think it's lame at all! I find we have that same sense of camaraderie online as I do with my soccer team!

I guess I'm an aberration. I'm 40+ and I'm an introvert; and I've made at least six good, new friends in the last three years. I will say that all but one of those new friends can be attributed to hobbies and interests.

See also Robert Putnam's "Bowling Alone" (2000): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowling_Alone

It's hard. They might have secretly voted for Trump/Hilary. /s

I wish this wasn't downvoted. It's sarcastic, but not inflammatory, and the political/idealogical divide in the US is a real contributor to this problem, I think.

Yeah? And?

Maybe many of us find a few friends we really like and are good to go with those people. Quality > quantity.


I mean, yeah maybe, but it looks like that's not the case. Apparently 3/4 of people are lonely. Choose your source, they all seem to say the same thing.

https://www.google.com/search?q=how+many+americans+are+lonel...


As an introvert, I’m slowly coming around to the idea that quantity can be a prerequisite to quality. It’s hard to build the right group of people when the few you’re currently exposed to aren’t that.

I realized a few years ago that not knowing anyone at a party is better than going to a party knowing everyone and not wanting to talk to a single one of them.

Meaningless without comparison to other places or times where it is different.



Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: