I miss the days my friends knew every mundane detail of my life and I knew theirs

Disclaimer: I’m typing this out at 12:47 AM because this topic has been very top of mind as of late. Thank you in advance for indulging in my jumbled thoughts and questions that have been keeping me up late at night.

At twenty three years old, with a college diploma, employed, and grateful for the opportunities that are waiting to be discovered. I spent my days unknowingly trapped in a routine that fostered a false sense of connectedness.

The combination of the world needing to socially isolate and the increased reliance on technology to connect us leaves me curious on what meaningful connections actually mean today.

Simply and beautifully put, Rupi Kaur says it best in home body, chapter 3 page 109:

i miss the days my friends
knew every mundane detail about my life
and i knew every ordinary detail about theirs
that
us
the walks around the block
The long conversations when we were
too lost in the moment to care what time it was
when we won and celebrated
when we failed and celebrated harder
when we were
just kids
now we have our very important jobs
that fill up our very busy schedules
we compare calendars just to plan coffee dates
that one of us eventually cancels
cause adulthood is being too exhausted
to leave our apartments most days
i missing knowing i once belonged
to a group of people bigger than myself
that belonging made life easier to live
friendship nostalgia — rupi kaur

Screenshot from my weekly calendar — blurred to hide exact content.

It hit me one weekend that I was over engineering my calendar with virtual coffee chats, lunches, and socially distanced picnics with friends. I wanted to connect with others but the planning process was becoming overwhelming.

  • To connect in the virtual space I was considering: the date, time, video conferencing platform, and specific conversation to avoid video fatigue.
  • And even more intense considerations when planning to meet in person: the date, time, weather, location, carpooling, budget, and uncertainty if the follow through will happen (I’ve been the person who cancelled last minute and also the person who was cancelled on).

But why did it have to be this way? It may have been me conditioning myself over the years, where I felt like every second needed a pretty color label and spot on my calendar to remind me how busy I am. It may have also been the short answer, I didn’t want to forget about the plans.

Like most people, I turned to the internet and began my quest to find answers on why this was.

Research from Washington University in St. Louis found coordinating social time with friends can make otherwise enjoyable activities seem like chores. In fact, just the act of scheduling a specific time and place — giving structure to supposedly free time — can negatively impact our collective enjoyment and anticipation of an event.

Through this research, I started to accept that roughly scheduling a leisure activity can help feel like less “work” and can make connecting more enjoyable.

One caveat to note, roughly scheduling activities doesn’t mean eliminating scheduling entirely. It’s a balancing act to strike the perfect sweet spot.

Research from Oxford University found out of 150 Facebook friends, you can truly count on only four, on average, when you need a real friend. The kind who picks you up from the hospital after a procedure, helps you pack on moving day and listens to you dissect your breakup for the 16th time because you need to process it just once more.

Through this research, we can takeaway that most internet-related technologies are giving us the perception of connectedness. The more friends, followers and likes you have do not correlate to the number of actual relationships you seek or value.

How might we leverage technology to foster relationships centered around connectedness?

Infographic showcasing: Calendly, Amoung Us, and Facebook Messenger Rooms.
Calendy to the viral game, Among Us, and Facebook Messenger rooms.

Over the next few months, I’ll be dedicating time to explore this space further and welcome additional commentary, research, and analogous inspiration that may relate to this area.

Hopefully after, I’ll have less jumbled thoughts to share out and can sleep a bit more at ease.

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Product Marketing Manager @Microsoft, prev T-Mobile, BCW Global, Peach, Jumpstart + Design Student ‘19 | leahshin.com 👩‍💻

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Leah Shin

Leah Shin

Product Marketing Manager @Microsoft, prev T-Mobile, BCW Global, Peach, Jumpstart + Design Student ‘19 | leahshin.com 👩‍💻

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