Everybody wants to join a meetup or club or whatever, but if you organize the event(s), and then invite people you like (from work or your kids' friends' parents) then you get the event you want and you strengthen those friendships. If you can make it happen consistently, those relationships can get quite strong over a few years, plus your friends will invite their friends and it gets better over time.
The only downside is having to do event planning: clean your house (or pick a venue: park, hackerspace, church, cafe, gym, clubhouse if your apartment complex has one), email/text invitations, plan food, etc. This is a skill, though, and you get better with practice.
(Edit: obviously rona makes this harder but e.g. my wife and I have a zoom call we do most mornings where we do a workout video and hang out for ~10-15 minutes. It's a lot better than nothing!)
Not only is it a skill, but it's very difficult to make that sort of effort when you are depressed, which many lonely people are.
It's true. TBH to the extent I've done/helped with it, I've learned more about making it easy than doing it well. The easiest options I know about:
- hike (you literally just need to agree on a trail and a time. People can bring their own food, or you can do it in the afternoon so it doesn't overlap with a meal)
- hang out in a park/at the beach. Almost as easy as a hike but you do need food. This can just be pizza and drinks. Bring a barbecue and a cooler of (veggie) burgers/hot dogs, drinks, chips and dip if you want to get fancy
- game night: almost the same as the park but you'd do it in your house (or apartment clubhouse). Slightly more clean-up, but food can be very easy and low-key (takeout, pizza, salad). This is easy to do regularly, too, and you can change the games depending on who's there, so it's got broad appeal. Board games are an obvious classic, and/or people can bring laptops, or you can set up a projector and an xbox. My roommates did this for years and we probably had over a hundred different guests at one point or another. People started bringing their own TVs and xboxes
- dinner party/potluck: like game night, but for a group that likes to cook this can be super fun. You don't actually have to make much because there are N dishes, so you eat a 1/N portion of each. Also, if you do it regularly, sometimes everyone agrees they're too tired to cook and you just all go in on takeout and drinks, which is fun too.
- group workouts: just need a gym and a time (or a park, you can do an outdoor workout)
- meet at a bar: not even really hosting, but if you suggest it and get everyone to agree on a time, it actually is hosting
(Finally: IME people are happy to venmo you for food if you ask in advance. Especially for recurring events this can be good to do, so that hosting stays fun for you)
Then there's the problem that many activities that might have seemed interesting and fun to do while the person was not depressed often seem uninteresting or meaningless when they are depressed.
Finally, there's all the self-recrimination and self-loathing that comes from knowing you could "easily" have done all sorts of things to make your life better and reach out to people but just not done them, which spirals people even further in to depression.
It's a really tough cycle to break.
It made me feel more alone, and embarrassed for evening trying.
But if you just moved to a new city and want to deepen your friendships this is fantastic advice. A non zero chunk of lonely people aren’t depressed, just lonely.
Especially during the pandemic, I became very used to hanging out with only my partner, and I think our bubble has amplified my introverted habits.
I'm not sure what's the antidote to that. I do think that in many ways, technology is driving people apart, and I'm afraid we're headed the way of Japan (hikikomori). I think some people will choose to remain socially active and others will withdraw. At some level, interacting with other human beings is challenging, it takes effort, you have to want to do it.
I remember I went to a summer camp at college some 20+ years ago now. It was a blast, and I made a ton of friends because it was just pretty boring if you weren't forcing yourself to be out and about.
By the time I went to college for real, anticipating the same experience, I was rather rudely awakened. Everyone was on their phone at any time, so it was less natural to strike up a conversation with someone. And this was -before- the Iphone, so I imagine it's even worse today.
This atomized "biorobot" view of the employee is quite new and doesn't seem very healthy.
It's harder if you're changing companies every 2-3 years and cities every 5-6 (as seems common enough in Tech at least).
Digital nomads are the vanguard—look to them to see what works and what doesn't.
You get very little choice who you go to school with, and yet many people make lifelong friends at school. Even as I traverse middle age I'm still good friends with half a dozen people I went to school with, and on friendly speaking terms with at least a couple of dozen more.
Work does seem different though: relationships often don't hold in the same way.
I stay in touch with relatively few people out of the hundreds or (low) thousands I've worked with over the years. The vast majority of them are from one company where I worked for nearly 10 years, and most of them joined in the first 3 or 4 years of that 10 or were already there when I started.
I suspect a lot of it boils down to the amount of "quality" time you spent together - directly interacting and sharing experiences - versus those you swap in and out with.
False dichotomy. Building relationships and earning a living aren't mutually exclusive.
Building healthy, lasting relationships with your peers isn't necessarily required to get a job done, but it certainly makes it more enjoyable. Of course not everyone is going to be interested in authentic relationships at work, but that doesn't mean that nobody wants to be friends at the office.
If you can only view your work peers as pure business interactions, you're missing out.
Especially if you relocate away from your hometown for a job, I'm not sure why that would be surprising to anyone. You spend at least 8 hours a day with these people, it only makes sense you'd eventually build some connections with them. And as the parent post points out, it certainly makes the days more enjoyable when you've built healthy relationships with your peers.
And come to think of it, most people 30+ I know seem to have friend groups of almost exclusively current or former coworkers. I don't think I'm by any means unique.
If it were just you & I comparing our individual anecdata I'd have chalked it up to that, but this feels like perhaps there's something more going on. I suppose one explanation is that people who form close bonds with coworkers are going to be more likely to hanging out with others who form close bonds with coworkers and vice versa?
I mean, they are most likely to be hanging out with friends they made at work, who at that moment would also be hanging out with friends they made at work.
I'm still friends with the previous coworkers that I formed the strongest friendships with.
Just like pretty much every social situation, not every relationship can be a strong one. There will be a lot of weak ones that fall away when circumstances change (e.g. leaving school, moving to a new town, getting a new hobby and having less interest in old ones, etc). However, those weak ties can still be valuable and enjoyable during their lifetimes.
Honestly, the idea of being at a company and not walking away with at least a few long-term friends is very foreign to me.
A purely transactional workplace would be a miserable place to work. It’s much better to work somewhere where people can respect and appreciate each other beyond what’s necessary to close out their next Jira ticket.
I really enjoy the company of my work colleagues.
Especially in a business setting, where it's not all 'heads down work', I think it's kind of important actually.
Professionalism is resonant, being around other people lifts you up, you learn from them, are energized, hopefully in mostly positive ways.
For Engineering work ... I'm worried that young folks won't have the opportunity for good mentors.
- W. Richard Stevens
- Andrew S. Tanenbaum
- Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie
Yes, I'm talking about books :)
Not trying to knock reading of course, but it's no replacement for a good mentor.
For example, I volunteer as a mentor for Code Louisville, and we actively encourage students to stay in touch even after the program when it comes to job hunting, programming questions, etc. I've also managed to find experienced devs for myself through local dev meetups, but have also had luck just messaging people on Linkedin. Sure, not all devs are going to be willing, but a lot of people respond well to basic curiosity and humility.
Maybe you don't miss them because you never talked to them.
Not always, and not for everyone.
> I'm not with these people because I want to be friends with them, I'm with them because I want to earn a living. If I find a friend along the way that's great, but I don't talk with 99.9% of the people I've ever worked with and don't much miss them.
That attitude will directly lead to superficial relationships.
Many people would like some non-superficial social connection to at least some of the people who they spend a large fraction of their days with, and seeking and maintaining some relationships like that is probably healthier, too.
I don't know where your comment came from, because in no way did I suggest that anyone should try to be friends with everyone they meet.
What I've found is that I tend to try to friends with my co-workers because I'm around them constantly. And I don't try to make friends anywhere else.
Lately, I've been realizing that even though my coworkers like me, and I like them, they are not really my friends. Nobody who leaves the company stays in touch with me. I almost never have contact with them away from work.
I share my hobby stuff with them during work hours, and they seem to enjoy hearing about it and engage with me, but none of them would actually want to join me in those hobbies away from work.
This has me thinking that I should spend less time trying to engage with them, and more time trying to find local groups that share those hobbies.
So, contrary to the article, I don't think "the loneliness of the modern office team member" is actually a problem. I think it's a big hint that they need to seek relationships outside of work instead.
1) Friendship of Utility: Affection is based on usefulness, and if usefulness fades so does the relationship.
2) Friendship of Pleasure: Affection is based on pleasant enjoyment of the other, often in shared circumstance such as sport or hobby. When the enjoyment changes or circumstance ends, so does the relationship.
3) Friendships of Goodness: "Now those who wish well to their friends for their sake are most truly friends; for they do this by reason of own nature and not incidentally; therefore their friendship lasts as long as they are good- and goodness is an enduring thing."
#1 and #2 are common, #3 is rare.
For example, I grew up in the USSR and I saw how my parents' colleagues were practically all very close friends. Both my parents worked in academia. Someone's birthday was usually a big noisy gathering of the whole department of the research institute where they worked, plus some more friends from previous organizations and of course some classmates. Yes, at times it was that insane!
Looking back now I realize what has been lost. Why though - I have no idea.
But there are 3 other aspects, specific to your location/economic system, which do not apply (and mostly never applied) in the US/West:
- people did not move around the country for jobs like they do in the US
- salaries in Eastern Europe/USSR were public and the same for the same position/responsibility.
- bosses' salaries were perhaps 30% higher (certainly not 300+% higher, so everyone was in the same socio-economic class, facilitating camaraderie
I think there's two parts to this - the Russian attitude of maintaining a few, deep close friends and everyone by and large staying in the same city their entire lives.
>The median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was 4.1 years in January 2020
It's difficult to make friends in this environment and this is a relatively recent change: https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/1984/10/art2full.pdf
I think most people find it simultaneously wonderful and extremely boring to be at home with kids for extended periods, so quite a few seize any chance of having a conversation with another adult. The playgrounds are full of bored parents, and everyone has one or more tiny, human conversation starters.
Kindergarten is pretty good as well for meeting people. When a three year old is invited to birthday party, they kind of have to have a parent along for the event.
Somewhat specific to my locality (Sweden), there is 15 hours per week of free kindergarten for kids with stay-at-home parents. In my city there are specific drop-off and pickup times for those children, which means that six times per week you meet relaxed and slightly bored other parents, who have kids in the same group as you. This essentially always means that you hang around the yard for a bit and socialize.
Three new friends in two years, six if one counts spouses. That is the same amount that I made in the preceeding ten years!
It was less of an event and more of a community of acquaintances who were good at welcoming strangers. Many of us became good friends.
Space was public venues, and once folks got to knowledge other, other suggestions of who had access to space came up pretty easily.
Today, I’d probably pick something semi different like airmeet and use it for a virtual meetup to gauge interest.
Sometimes restaurants or libraries have dedicated rooms that can be booked.
They're usually not on meetup, and often only on their own websites and/or on Facebook.
I found this helpful: https://outline.com/aAmy53
And you know what the crazy thing is? I just don't care about stuff like sports, but I'd happily go to a game if I liked the people I was with, for the the chance to hang out. But omg I just don't care about so many of the things that seem to bring people together.
That's the curse of the mild introvert, I guess.
Like others here I tried finding local friends through groups, other dads, school events, etc but get nowhere. I’m honestly considering either switching back to a small cultish company or moving to a smaller town both of which have their own problems but... guess I could try softball
It doesn’t exactly make me happy others have this same problem but I’m glad I’m not alone.
If I had to attribute what the difference was:
First company: Almost everyone was within a 10 year age difference of each other, and even those few that were older were still "young at heart", for lack of a better term. Everyone enjoyed each other's company and would frequently meet up after work, even go party together at bars and clubs on peoples' birthdays, etc.
Current company: My ex-boss had a unique knack for bringing the team together. I don't know what specifically he did that contributed most, but the entire team ended up becoming friends. Since he left, things haven't been the same with newcomers into the team, while most of the oldtimers have left.
Without out-of-work activities & bounding, friendly coworkers don’t transition into friends. I’d suspect remote work makes it very difficult to form a permanent friendship with a colleague.
I thought this was the norm, not the exception. I'm not in touch with of my past colleagues anymore. Reasons: a) we never hanged out outside the office (besides, beers on Fridays from time to time), b) changing jobs usually means changing cities, and using Twitter/WhatsApp/Facebook/Email is something that I find useless if you want to keep in touch with people; for me it is in-person hang outs or no touch at all.
I noticed this in other people too. Their entire social circles revolved around work. People had weddings that essentially only co workers went to.
Those years were the loneliest of my life.
What did you change to turn this around?
The hardest thing for me, still, is I'm working at a company that has a similar vibe to an SF tech company with a lot of people moving here or our other office for the job. That sets up the transactional/ephemeral relationships from work. It's very hard for me to distance myself from getting self worth out of my work and relationships at work, but I must do that. The "I must do that," is an insight from therapy.
a lot of us are lonely and it makes everything sensitive, maybe your colleagues don't stay in touch because they think you didn't stay in touch
it's subtle and fragile and I think we should find more strength within ourselves
I have kept in touch with former managers and tried to meet them for lunch at least once or twice a year pre Covid.
As a more senior guy it works for me. Not for everybody, I get that. But its a way healthier relationship.
Can they fire me? Sure. But I can get work again the next day. So go ahead, threaten and bluster manager guy. I've more than once picked up my coat and said "Are we done here?"
Work is work. Life is life. Personally I need boundaries and feel my life is healthier for it.
Friends? Sure, I've offered to come take care of them when they're having surgery, or invited to stay when the spouse is making them sleep on the couch. Even sent money a time or two when they're between jobs.
Maybe its different nowadays. But coworkers used to be easy to make friends with.
Someone has a non-paywalled link? Sounds like a very interesting topic.