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Nov 25, 2023Liked by Rosie Spinks

Living now in a small farming town in New England after being a global nomad all my life, I realize that lots of Americans have had that stable interconnectedness of community that I never experienced in cities and suburbs. Town government, church, volunteer Fire & Rescue, annual festivals etc all require hours of interaction with fellow townsfolk. A barn fire or loose animal rallies neighbors' help and covered dishes are brought to the sick or grieving. Problem is, not many people under 70 are carrying on any of this. The younger generations have moved out or do not participate. It took a few years but now I know that behind the Norman Rockwell scenes, a lot of these folks despise each other. They smooth things over and show up to the raffle or the funeral anyway because of a sense of duty and fear of social censure, sentiments lost in more individualistic, anonymous cities and suburbs. I admit to plunging in as a newcomer only to find that the busybodies who run everything want my labor, but have their own friend and family circles and are not open to outsiders for close friendships. They bonded long ago over babies and can't understand my life. Conformity seems to be the entry fee for most communities, always a challenge for free thinkers. No tidy lesson I'm afraid, just another perspective on the struggle for connection in our atomized times. Thanks for your thought provoking piece!

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Yes there is definitely a trade off. I suppose diverse, tolerant places (cities) tend to be more individualistic because more transplants live there. I dont think that stops us from seeing the limits of individualism no matter where we live though (cities included)!

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Nov 26, 2023Liked by Rosie Spinks

Absolutely! I think I was just naive about the self sacrifice required for more communal arrangements.

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“Conformity seems to be the entry fee for most communities, always a challenge for free thinkers.” Spot on.

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I was desperately in need of this reminder

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This resonates. We moved from the suburbs to a small town eight years ago. I remember two experiences the first weekend. First, when I went to the supermarket, I realized I couldn’t treat the cashier like a robot because I might be running into her on the street or our kids might be in class together. People suddenly weren’t just service providers, they were whole people. Second, someone called me up on a Sunday afternoon and asked me to come over for a beer. I couldn’t believe they didn’t have something planned already. I came to discover that no one did. It seems that when there’s 90% less programming offered every minute, people are 90% less booked. Eight years later, it’s hard to imagine leaving.

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or stop drinking Fireball. seriously, I appreciate the connections and open doors of many people in my small town. But it often goes along with a lot of drinking and smoking so if I don’t want to be a part of that or invite that into my home, it’s hard to be part of that community.

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Land is a commodity and I'll live where the fuck I want. My neighbors talk shit about each other non-stop but we have each other's backs. Your bs stereotyping is way off, and don't presume to speak for rural America, Viroquan.

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I thought your comment was very insightful. I was raised rurally in childhood, then small town, then a committed city mouse at 17. I’m almost 50 and the biggest thing that stopped me from moving out of the city was my knowledge AND experience that a lot of hostility towards “outsiders” and “yuppies” etc etc exists. I couldn’t commit to a lonely existence (or lack of a library).

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Thank you. I've definitely enjoyed city life with its freedom and anonymity, but I also envy the sense of belonging and roots that some of my neighbors have in my small town. Here anybody without several generations and a road with their name in town is a newcomer, so there's plenty of company. Those who marry in to the clans don't even quite rate. It's not about money or social status, just hard working families who are rightly proud of their self sufficiency and their ways. I've never felt hostility, but the road less traveled does make a difference when it comes to fitting in. Luckily there's high tolerance for eccentricity!

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GenXer here. Born and raised in a smallish coastal city on the border of LA and OC. It was (and still is) a fairly provincial town. My family roots were planted in Southern CA well before the turn of the *last* century; and most of them (and my childhood pals) are still there, and can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Being the proverbial black sheep of my familial “tribe”, I broke with tradition and got the hell out of CA as soon as I graduated. I’ve lived in SE Arizona, upstate NY, and central PA. Twice in Europe during college. Even moved back “home” to Cali in 2000 to care for my then elderly parents until they died 8 years later, by which time I was also a single mom.

Deep in grief, but finally set free from any obligation or inclination to stay, I did what had always come naturally to me. I lobbed a dart at the map, and got the hell out of CA, again.

That toss of the dart landed me & my cherubic toddler in Seattle almost two decades ago.

It wasn’t a totally out of the blue consideration, however. As an occasional visitor over my many years of wandering, the PNW had long felt like a “True North”. In fact, before my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I’d already been planning to leave Tucson and head in this general direction. But it’s since become the place I call HOME, and I (like my SoCal kin some 1,149 miles to the south) simply cannot imagine living anywhere else.

Alas, Seattle has since became hella expensive and crowded, ever more so now that all the hotter climate tech bro refugees with money to burn have “discovered” it and moved here.

Being the restless aforementioned black sheep that I am, I wanted a quieter life - with a small town “feel”, where my kid could safely explore the woods and the beaches without fear, with decent schools, more space between us and our neighbors, but that was still only a hop/skip/jump away from the Big City (and all that can also provide a developing child). So, I packed up my 7 year old and moved us across the East Passage to a rural island accessible only by ferry boat.

That was almost 10 years ago, and here is where I shall finally get to my long-winded point.

I think you’re spot on about many of the “complications” of living in a small town... BUT, telling someone to eff off and calling them a bitch isn’t exactly helpful. It certainly won’t change their heart or mind about who THEY are, or how THEY feel about the place they chose to move to (whatever their reasons were for doing so).

Gentrification is a thing everywhere. Rich people move into poorer areas of cities because there is a vibe of community there (and cool old buildings that are cheaper to buy than in the richer and more “established” parts of town). Other rich people move to smaller/rural areas because there is community there as well - and maybe for both these groups, it’s a place that simply reminds them of towns they, or their parents &/or grandparents, grew up in.

And yes, many of them most certainly (albeit, naively) probably *do* think they can just plop themselves into the middle of that charming new locale and instantly fit in. And no, as you also pointed out, they more often than not, can’t and won’t fit in, won’t be accepted by the locals who’ve been there forever and ever. To survive this snubbing, they’ll seek out and find fellowship with the other newbies. They will buy up old houses with buckets of cold hard cash and put fences around them (driving up the cost of housing), because they still have their citified thinking. They’ll also open up new businesses and create new organizations or clubs for themselves that the “Townies” (aka old timers, locals, OGs) will loathe and make fun of (while secretly wishing they had the cojones and capital to do the same).

Or, the newbies will pack it in within 1-3 years out of sheer frustration, loneliness, and a deep misjudgment of what it actually takes to live and make deep connections in such an insular and inhospitable community, bailing out with their carpetbags and fancy coffee drinks, back to whence they came. Always seeking, but never finding true Community.

This is particularly true of anyone who never grew up, nor learned to exist, in a place where nuance, compromise, suiting up and showing up for friends and neighbors (despite the myriad petty gossip and grievances that have abounded for decades, if not generations), etc. precisely because those things run DEEP - and everyone knows it in their very bones already. They learned it at their grandparents knees, on the playground, at church socials, volunteering for the local fire department, and so on.

I would respectively argue however that there actually is a way “in” for the newbies... but it’s going to take a tremendous amount of hard work, perseverance, repeated overtures (with lots of hurt feelings along the way) to make friends and create connections. Years, if not decades, of consistently swallowing those big city ways of thinking (where it’s all about being self-sufficient, and never asking for help), and softening up to the notion that in the end, Community is really all about one for all, and all for one.

We really do need to get off our smartphones, and take the iPads out of the hands of our kids (just a modern day version of the TVs my generation was anesthetized on) and go outside! We need to start practicing people-ing skills at the office water cooler or our local Five and Dime (whatever that looks like in the Roaring 2020s and beyond).

Newbies have something to offer, but so do the locals. Get to know each other, or at the very least, fake it till you make it!

Read up on the history of the place you live - even if you’ve lived there for years. Be open to random interactions with your neighbors. Try out one of those new fangled restaurants or businesses. Volunteer. Be of service. Plant some trees. Pick up trash. Donate to a *local* non-profit whose mission is to help *local* folks or causes. Make eye contact and small talk, it won’t kill you (even if it feels like it will - especially to my kids generation who are afraid of EVERYTHING). Smile more, but also, don’t be afraid to say “No!” to obvious bullshittery or cronyism when you see it.

Change is good, but so is tradition. Somewhere in the middle of all this division lies the truth of what community can and should be.

It’s been a brutally hard (and ever evolving) series of lessons for me to learn since moving to this small town rural island community that I get to call home, in a world that is (seemingly) being ripped apart at the seams. As I enter my 3rd act of this thing called life, I worry I won’t be able to hold on to what I’ve built here - but damn, I’m trying. Because what is the alternative?!

And with that long missive, I shall close by saying thank you to the OP for this insightful & thought-provoking piece. You’re a good 20 years younger than me, and even though I already know what it’s like to have single-parented a 3-year old when I was in my early 40s, I admit to knowing almost nothing about what it’s like to be 30-something married parent of a toddler in 2023 (assuming I read as well as I blather on and on and on).

Lastly, if I’ve learned nothing else since moving to a small rural island community, it’s that I’m at least willing to be curious - and that maybe, just maybe, it might be worth it to attempt making lasting and meaningful connections with other humans again (difficult as that might be with anxiety and ADHD, not to mention all my big fat opinions and pre-conceived notions). You know, like we used to do in the Before Times (before kids, before COVID, smartphones, aging parents, political division, the interwebs, etc.). If we did it before, we can surely learn to do it again, right?!

So, consider me a new acquaintance. It’s nice to meet you! 🤝

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THE LAST GENS CHANGED THE WORLD LEARNINGS BEHAVIORS TOO.EVERYTHING ACCEPTABLE NOW IN 2023..NO RESPECT COURTESY NEW NORM FOR FUTURE

SAD.SAD.SAD

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Commodification of Everything

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Nov 24, 2023Liked by Rosie Spinks

This was so relatable. And having it put so poignantly makes me realize I’m not the only one who is experiencing this - which then gives me the encouragement to work through the apathy and try to rekindle connection. Thank you.

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Such a great post. And I agree with Rebecca. Sharing this post now.

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Nov 24, 2023Liked by Rosie Spinks

I can’t tell you how timely this newsletter is for me. Today is my birthday and I turn 29 in a new-ish city in a foreign country, craving that low-stakes intimacy you speak of. But on the other hand, I find it incredibly hard to let people in because of the fear of rejection, which is very real. I’ve been crying for days about how lonely I feel about a day that’s supposed to be all about me. So thank you for helping me feel a little less lonely!

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I'm so glad it made you feel that way. Birthdays can be tricky emotional terrain! thanks for reading x

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Nov 24, 2023Liked by Rosie Spinks

I see you, Merve, and can very much relate. It must have taken a lot of courage to make such a move to a new place. Sending a birthday wish that you can summon that same courage and vulnerability in the year ahead to forge new relationships. 🕯️

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Thank you!

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29 is a brutal one. I hated knowing I only have 12 months left to steal a police car and go do donuts on a golf course, because I could write it off as being young, and that was going away. Wait until you turn 59, that's almost as bad.

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Happy belated birthday Merve and we share the same born day! I think the key is recognising that we are inherently creatures of connection - even looking at nature we see just how natural it is to form communities. The human ability to think "higher" has resulted in a lot more suffering than necessary imo.

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I really relate to this! I have been living abroad a while and often feel the same. Birthdays often bring up feelings for me too 🩵 a very belated happy birthday x

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HALF THE WORLD LONELY NOW ANY AGE..WHO WANTS TO MEET DATE A1 CHARACTERS OR FB FRAUD PEOPLE..NO TRUST NOMORE

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Absolutely loved this! You got me at the end with “I miss the adult version of playing out on the streets”. I never thought about it like that. But I recently deleted my IG and have been focusing more on the grounded relationships that I have, and I find I have more desire to ask the smaller details about a friend’s life. I want their depth. And I want them to want mine.

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Wow, what a beautiful way to describe this at the end Danielle. I find there is a sense of sanitisation with my friendships atm. I think it has stopped me from seeking more depth in friendships lately, like I haven't allowed myself to risk being seen as sad, or stuck or to be a burden on someone.

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What a beautiful reflection Joseph! I think I’m todays society we are constantly told that we are a burden and are being shaped into being more independent, economically. But we need community. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t get help and share our crazy lives with some friends

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A lovely outlook on this piece. One thing I’ve tried to start doing recently is asking people far less over messages when I know I’m seeing them in person soon. Saving all the updates and news for deeper conversation in person. It’s refreshing. ☺️

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Wow! That's a fantastic idea. Recently, I realized how much capacity messaging people individually and in group chats take up of my brain capacity. So I've trying to reduce that for my brain. It was good timing to read your comment, I love that idea of saving things to tell in person. Makes it more exciting and more for a reason to get together!

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It is a lovely way of taking a step back and enjoying face to face conversation ☺️

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“I want their depth. And I want them to want mine.” Yes, yes, yesss. I want and need this so much. No one seems to be available to provide or reciprocate it though. :-(

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Turning your attention to the people and places and things that bring your joy and depth will slowly make those shallow people, places and things disappear. They'll float out of your life if you change your perspective.

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You are right. Thank you. :-)

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Fascinating and concerning post. My wife and I are 75 and disabled. She was disabled at 16, me at 52. She has no close friends, always obsessed with hiding her disability. I have an abundance of them, though mostly can only communicate with them virtually, indeed via email ot text since I have severe hearing issues. But we both “played in the street” as kids, and there was a time before we moved that we both had close friends we saw often and shared our lives with in numerous ways.

We have a network now of friends in the form of my wife’s wonderful extended family here and our church. An atheist for over half a century, I was called to Greek Orthodoxy five years ago. (I am a white make of Southern U.S. Anglo-Saxon ancestry, not remotely Greek, though my wife is Greek Orthodox but had not been active out of respect for my atheism). So our parish has become another source of budding real friendships, where people do the casual things you mention—drop by for coffee, help each other out with their kids or emergencies or fixing a gutter on their house. Our church covers a huge age group, from infants to oldsters, with a surprising number of Millenials.

I think joining something, a church, a volunteer group, a book club, some other affinity group where you live, is a great way to find and develop real friendships. It takes commitment but the human connections are worth it. Limiting non-essential screen time helps too. Meaning social media, TV and other world “news” which is designed to agitate, anger and annoy us. Not sticking your head in the sand, because our world is a mess and needs our help, but not letting all the badness overwhelm you or paralyze you in terms of getting involved in the real world.

A final note from an old codger to you Millennials. A number of our Millenial relatives are afflicted with what I will call chronic sensitivity, alert to every imaginable slight in perceived gender or racial references and a variety of other “micro aggressions” and “trigger words”. Yes, some things people say are rude, uncaring-seeming, even bigoted. More often they are unconscious, a reflection of their upbringing, even a joke. To relate to real people you need a bit of a thick skin or you will lose valuable relationships over what are, bluntly, trivial things. Accept imperfection, recognizing the old adage that the perfect is the enemy of the good. I have many differences, especially political, with friends and loved ones. We accept that, because life is more than that. Being there for one another is what counts and keeps friendships going. Like anything else worthwhile, it takes some work and a good deal of judgment.

I hope this is of help to some of you. Negotiating life today is infinitely harder than when I was the age of your average Millennial, and technology is largely to blame, nor did the pandemic help. Do not let those things deprive you of the rich life we humans, as social beings, can and should have. All the best to all of you.

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This is so relevant - people with disability have been in this terrain for ever, with much more reason than the rest of us to feel hurt by the reactions of others. I do feel for your wife....and I also applaud the solutions you have found in your life. I'm intrigued by the 70 year old atheist finding this particular route. There's lots to learn from each other.

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I could not have related to this more. I live in South East London and when I became pregnant, so many people from outside of London responded with 'I wouldn't want to raise a baby in London.' I live on a terraced street and even before having my baby, there's a sense of 'playing in the street' because we're all in such close quarters to each other. We joined an NCT group (parenting classes) and the group of eight couples have now formed such an integral community for me--honestly a lifeline--especially in the newborn days. I've never been able to make plans so spontaneously. This compounded when we had a devastating flood a few months ago and had to move out - we've lived in three of our friends houses, all with small babies. I cannot imagine calling on help like this before. I felt great friction in asking for help, even when it was freely offered, but it made me realise how often I avoid it and as such, avoid a real sense of understanding and belonging within a community.

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I love this comment! And I'm so glad you found that. For some reason my ante-natal group didn't end up being that for me, but I've heard from loads of women who had that experience. It also sounds like you've gotten good at the asking part, which I think is the biggest block for most of us!

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Absolutely! I don’t understand how it’s so hard when we’re encouraged to ask for help as children so often. Even when someone asks you to call on them, I always feel it’s too much. Your piece communicated this so well - the capitalist reframing of convenience. I wonder if the habit of paying for the services you need--even the little ones--makes us feel like we ‘owe’ those who offer help freely?

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Dec 10, 2023·edited Dec 10, 2023

Thank you for highlighting something very important here. The modern 'paying for' help or convenience has changed the friendship dynamic. Asking for and receiving help is a huge friendship building block as it shows you need other people, it allows for the expression of kindness, trust, vulnerability and generosity. Some of the cornerstones of deep friendship. Now, friends pay a therapist to talk about deep stuff, have food delivered when sick, hire a handyman for house help, get a pet sitter for their cat, get an uber to the airport etc. Obviously, not always, but generally speaking. As someone who has travelled extensively and lived in different countries, I see it most strikingly in the shift to monetising accommodation. It used to be so cosy to stay with friends, nobody expected much. A sofa was fine. Your own bedroom? Wow, absolute luxury! Now, it's more complicated. People have the option to rent out for income, or it is expected you'll find accommodation yourself. (again, not always, but the 'rules' have changed). And yes, there are advantages to this. It's often nicer to get your own place to stay. But the cosiness, the closeness, the interaction with everyday life in all its ups and downs is missing. Many simple social interactions are now lost to "convenience". And there really is nothing better than true friendship where you never feel you 'owe' your friend anything. You just know everything is given and / or received with love. Nobody's keeping score. Money can't buy that.

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How beautiful - so glad you found this as a new mama/family!

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by Rosie Spinks

I’m going to need to read this again. And again. Because you have perfectly described what has been like an itch for years now that I cannot seem to reach. There are so many layers to this, too many to put in the comment section but here is a prime example. I have long time friends who it is impossible to get a phone call with, never mind meeting in person. We are scheduling our calls, yet they won’t hesitate to sit and have deep life conversations with me over text for an hour. And it was so great to catch up, love you, xxoo afterwards. This leaves me feeling a bit sad sometimes afterwards... and never quite satisfied. I miss my people!

Thanks for a great read!

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This 👆🏼 All of this.

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Holy moly this is a great article. Hits home in so many ways.

There is one other phenomenon I’d add, though I certainly can’t express it as eloquently as this author, so I’ll just puke it out without editing.

It’s something to do with the combination of polarization of ideas, the lost ability to discuss nuance and the social consequences of not saying quite the right thing, or even saying the right thing in not quite the right way.

Real life exists in nuance and exceptions, and the only way to understand it is to explore confusing things in a genuinely safe discussion. You can’t do this if you’re worried that the unformed opinion that you’re trying to form is going to get your friendship cancelled.

Worse still, as the author touches on, we are expected to navigate this while grappling with issues that maybe our brains were not designed to. Our parents had to discuss local issues within a community they knew, or global global issues with local friends. They were not expected to have a perfectly formed opinion about remote local issues like who can or can’t use which bathroom in a small town thousands of miles away.

One result is that I never feel I can have a lean-back relaxed, cathartic conversation with anyone that I haven’t already known for 20 years.

This makes social engagements with new friends stressful, lean forward, cognitively taxing affairs that are rarely restorative. So the opportunity to have such a chat ends up being less appealing staying at home alone with a device, and so the cycle continues...

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Spot on. I like Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death. From 100% literacy rates in the 19th century (in the US), it's been a steady decline in literacy and intellectual social status. Country mice in red states say "We follow our hearts," and the young with rap culture say "You feel me?" I look at the world and I see a civil war between those who think, and the emotionally eristic. This is greatly exacerbated by both the left and right pandering to emotions rather than intellect. And capitalism cannot provide journalism, clearly, so what we have is entertainment corporations masquerading as news organizations and avoiding, at all costs, being intellectual arbiters of reality and decency in order to pander to both extremes of society. And people wonder why we can't have discussions anymore.

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This was so good for many reasons. I had my second right at the beginning of the pandemic and am an introvert. I actually felt good for a while, but then I began to struggle with identity, missing out feelings, and even lost how to carry a conversation well. It was then I realized the normal parts of life that mattered to my social life were dramatically distorted and lost. We live in a small tourist town on the shore of Michigan. It’s booming with new people mostly mid-30 to 40s moving here now. Now that the pandemic has faded into the distance the connecting has returned but almost too much. We have a tight knit community here and I have realized how amazing it is now that it felt lost in the pandemic. I joined some small groups of things like a cohort about farm/climate minded work and a writing group. We also have made many neighbor intergenerational friends and they are some of the most important parts of social life and other friends I have say the same.

I started making a point after the pandemic to be more curious about people the way I wanted people to be curious about me. I asked questions I wanted to talk about other than the weather for instance. As an introvert I desire and need deep conversations. I have met and connected with so many people at places like the farm market and even school drop off. Being curious is underrated in building connection is something I have learned even just this last year.

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Wow this is such a beautiful comment, thank you for sharing!

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As an older reader, I would just like to encourage youngers to persevere. True friendship is founded on shared experience and history, both of which take time and some of those shared experiences will be challenging! Sometimes you have to just keep showing up.

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This struck such a chord with me. My husband and I recently moved because I desperately wanted to interact with people more regularly. In our new home I know the mail man's name, my building manager's name. I interact with my local barista. I strike up random conversations with people at the grocery store. All things that felt unwelcome where we moved from. It feels like such a relief.

I've also been having a thought that I'll probably write about at some point, but it's given me some hope when mulling it over in my brain. In the world of late capitalism where branding ourselves and needing to constantly be selling ourselves exist, there are obvious pitfalls (many of which you've pointed out in your essay). But I think eventually we'll get to a point where it will start to circle back to how things used to be where there was one local tailor, your town blacksmith, the community "healer" or therapist, etc etc. It will just look different with different roles (website developer, social media manager, yoga teacher, etc). As you've pointed out through Bill McKibben's words, we'll eventually return back to creating smaller groups where we are valued for the gifts we have to give to our people. And in this way, friendships will begin to look very different. It's easy to get in a doom and gloom mentality around the self-branding I see out in the world today, but I'm hopeful that we will all find our communities where we are valued for the thing we are promoting about ourselves and feel fulfilled and purposeful.

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Love this! And so glad you moved to find/create what you’re looking for

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I just ran across this and signed up to receive your newsletter. I really enjoyed this and you are an excellent writer. I’m an outlier here, as I’m 76. But much of what you say, I can still relate to and it’s not much different than we all feel, no matter our age. But there are differences and you will feel them change as the decades go by. My life became calmer, less hectic once I retired and more time to spend on the things you love and the value of a few friendships over many. I’m also a widow and with that, came a freedom to develop who I really am.

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Dec 9, 2023·edited Dec 15, 2023

Wow Mary, that last line jumped out at me.

I am not a widow but a 60ish wife and mother who has always struggled to be who I am as I was too busy fulfilling the people pleasing, peacemaking, life secretarial role I felt was my primary duty.

As I age I feel a greater compulsion to follow my soul and walk the talk. I am now doing so becoming a peaceful activist for causes that are significant to me. This comes with a cost but it's worth it.

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I'm 80. Looking back, the "friends" count has shrunk continuously from say high school. I'm down to 2 "friends", known for over 50 years. They're mostly internet connections now. The fact is, "friends" are not important, only family is. Even family must bow to the ultimate truth, we are alone in life. It's you, and only you. Sorry, but that's the way it is.

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Why should biological relationship matter more than a chosen relationship? I can't choose my family (and they can't choose me), but I sure can choose my friends. I believe our overreliance on biological kinship and the nuclear family is what is driving this crisis of loneliness.

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You are incorrect. You can chose your family, the one you create with a spouse and breeding. Of course you can’t choose your birth family but the relationship with it is what you put into it. If your birth family is horrible or rejects you that is a very sad sinuous must overcome. What ever you do share a lot of DNA unless there’s infidelity.

I too have been young and raised kids. It’s normal for young people to put an emphasis on friends but over time they will fall away, I remember my youngest son explaining to me how his generation had friends unlike mine when he had 3 roommates who were the amigos. 25 years later he only keeps in touch with one and that is by a thin wire,

So, enjoy the friendships of youth but understand they are fleeting.

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What do you think people who don't have family should do then? No offense but your comments are somewhat bizarre and seem untrue in the face of what I've seen in life aka people who don't have family but have lots of long term friends they spend time with.

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Your question is perceived by me as one seeking help. I may be wrong but that's the premise by which I'm answering. Whatever I post, I do not want to cause any displeasure within you.

Just about all have a family, good, bad or indifferent. Even orphans have a family with those raised in an institution having an extended one, staff and other orphans.

Friends are divided into two groups, those better called associates and those who become closer. They're both "friends" because we enjoy time spent with them. Family members can be "friends" but "friends" usually can not be family. Why? First their is the DNA equation but family can include non blood relatives, such as orphans. Long term shared experience, formed by being peas in the same pod, makes a family. A few friends, however, transition from "friends" to family. What is the transition? It's commitment.

Spouses are not DNA or usually common pod youth experienced related but they make a commitment. My experience, (married 53 years) is the key ingredient to life long marriage is not conversation, communication, companionship, or compatibility. It's another "C" word, commitment. During my 53 years of marriage there were plenty of grounds for divorce by both over the other 3 "Cs" but commitment is what held it together.

When young "friends" were very important to me and their were a few that became life long relationships to this day but they lacked the commitment equation. Most of those I enjoyed closely quickly faded away when their or my interest changed. Glen was one extremely close who I often drank with as we learned hidden truths only booze reveals but who "evaporated" when I stopped drinking.

I'm also a slow learner and oblivious to the truth even within my self. "Friends" without commitment often are your worst enemies. I am a very competitive person yet it took me a long time to realize I often "tripped" my friends to maintain my competitive superiority.

I recently posted a story on Substack about sending out a double sided Xmas card with all the wonderful things experienced on one side for my enemies to get jealous over, (brag sheet), and all the misfortunes of the year on the other side, (sympathy quest), to have real friends commensurate with. In other words, "friends" who you enjoy being with often are your enemies hoping against you.

Please take my post as an attempt to help, not to lecture. Take what helps and toss the rest even if it is the entire post.

I experienced both a happy and miserable family childhood experience as did my spouse. There are family I refuse to communicate with because family, like "friends" can be your enemies.

You also must not expect too much from family or "friends". We have a son who my wife was the hero mom to that is "aloof". He would forget to send a birthday card to his mother if I did not warn him secretly to so. Parents must sacrifice for children, that's simply the way it is.

I do not know the details of your life so my post is generic. If true you have no family, try to create one with commitment with another. Be warned, you may be disappointed but it's still worth the try as life is such a lonely road to travel. It's nice to have someone to travel it with even if they are n the backseat, not the passenger seat.

Merry Christmas

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Your question is sincere and difficult to respond to,. To avoid being flippant let me mull over your question and my prior posts. I will respond with sincerity before the weekend is over.

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Bravo!

A wonderful outline of how "social isolation" is somewhat self-designed by ourselves. As an extremely driven individual that wanted so badly to be in the professional fields of science, human performance, health and wellbeing, and sports, I have chased that over everything else way too much.

This meant going to many different countries, sacrificing a lot of "friend" time for personal development, internships, and much more. Yet, I finally came around back to my childhood friends, and although I live in New Zealand, while they are in Germany, I cannot underestimate their value. This is also what made me realise that I am exactly in that boat of "30+ and hard to make new connections".

Our social wellbeing is such a crucial part of our fundamental health that we need to happen every single day - yet, we do not really understand the value of even the smallest interactions. As someone who grew up in Germany, where it is said "German do not do small talk" (and I think this extends to the all generations world wide post gen-x unfortunately), I am also guilty of completely ignoring these type of interactions - hell, even feeling "uncomfortable" about them.

Yet, the science on this is outrageously clear: even the smallest interactions, the simplest gestures, the most basic social connections, are massively beneficial for our social health. And from there, you can then "build" that muscle again, and grow more in-depth relations. Start with asking "how is your day going?", and have a conversation.

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I get most of my outside interaction with my community of frequented restaurants, shops, and medical professionals, especially my chirporactice office, and the clerks at the Dollar General, the only store within 30° drive. I engage in small talk with people if they're interested. I like to be compassionate and friendly with people I meet.

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That is just fantastic to read Karen - especially if you don't have that many "stores" close to you.

I am trying to be better on that, but as it is known, old habits change slowly.

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At first I thought “Thank God it’s not just me.” Then I was stricken with the next thought “Oh God it’s worse than I thought.” I have lived in Colorado Springs since 2014 and I’ve yet to make a single friend. It’s not like I’m unable to make friends. I’ve had great friends over my entire life. But not here, not now. At the age of 71, single by divorce it has become seriously lonely for me. I was lonely in my marriage but I was confident that I would be meeting new women who would be articulate, funny and curious. Two years later I’m no closer to being in a friendship. I can and do quite a lot of things by myself and enjoy the interactions I have with other women. But coffee dates or a meal out are not fun by myself. At least now I see the problem is bigger than I ever imagined.

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I'm about half your age and live across the country, but if I make it out to Colorado Springs, I would love to take you out to coffee! Keep going. I know there are people out there for you. I'm not a churchgoer myself, but I hear that the UU "church" is an easygoing place for even the most skeptical among us to make connections. Might be worth a try. I honestly don't think there are many adults in the US who aren't looking for more true friends, but it takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there again and again.

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Thank you Lucy. I go to a very radically different church called the Sanctuary. Very first century really. My son committed suicide the day after Thanksgiving. His depression led to deep despair and a deep sense of his uselessness. People are afraid of walking too close to others in the best of circumstances. But when grief comes crashing in they just aren’t able to cross that threshold. We’re all broken and hurting and afraid of the dark places. I’m grateful for the people on Substack who have liked my original comment and I feel less alone. Much love to you and happy Christmas to you!

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You’re so right, loved reading your post...unfortunately, there is a general loss of kindness, caring, boundaries accentuated by the fact that people became very self-centered, almost selfish. I generalize because that is what I generally notice around me wherever I go. I mostly have professional friendships, real ones at least on the surface...but we need to live with purpose, help people and reach out to them, put boundaries to what takes us away from connecting with them, basically lead the way...and they will notice...keep trying to schedule the coffee time or the walk...until it happens...hopefully...that’s what I try to do and insist to make it happen.

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