Here’s two quotes I read in the New York Times in the last few months.
“In 1990, only 3 percent of Americans said they had no close friends; in 2021, nearly 12 percent said the same. The United States is in the grips of a loneliness crisis that predates the Covid pandemic.”
“In a 2018 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, one in five Americans said they always or often felt lonely or socially isolated.”
Add to this a pandemic, increasing “screen addiction”, and the rise of work from home (or, more accurately Everything From Home) and it’s easy to see how creating IRL experiences can be a worthwhile endeavor.
It’s often cited that wealthier countries are less happy. There’s lots of hypotheses around this, but here’s mine. When you’re broke you use public transit, you hang out in public parks and pools, you live in closer quarters with other people. As people get more affluent they have their own home, their own car, their own pool. There’s absolutely benefit in having things to yourself. But I think the flipside is that it has led to a lot of isolation.
When there’s less people around, you might have less bad interactions with people but you will also have less interactions and less meeting new people in general. And some of those might bring you
It’s cliche, but humans are a social animal. Everything From Home – even if there’s a lot of people in the home – still limits your interactions with others enormously. It’s not good for the soul. And it’s certainly not good for having IRL interactions with people who are “different from us”
Studies have shown that people consistently underestimate how much they will enjoy interacting with a stranger. People want to connect with other people (whether they believe it or not) and there’s less opportunities to do that.
One of the things I like most about the mission of The Eureka Room is that it brings people – often strangers – together in real life to see that strangers aren’t all dangers and that they can even be fun. I think with fewer situations these days that require people to interact with each other, people feel a greater lack as more of everything becomes Everything From Home (see the quotes above – they already are). I think there will be more places designed with connection in mind. In the past, many of our social spaces developed as a side effect of practical needs. With much of those needs addressed in the EFH culture, we need to create those spaces with more intention and for deeper reasons.