Having People vs Finding People

I’ve got my people. A collection of good friends who are my guys. The fellas. And we are almost all separated by several states, spanning thousands of miles.

Modern technology allows me to feel just as close to them as when we’ve lived in the same city (or even the same house in some cases). Since this tech came into being while I was already in my adulthood, I have mostly experienced it as a way to keep connected with those I already know, not a primary means of meeting people.

I have definitely met new people online, and even become friends with some. But I wouldn’t say those are my people. They are the second circle, not the core group. The core is people I’ve had lots of experiences with in person.

I don’t think it has to be this way. In fact, I hope it doesn’t for my kids sake. We have moved several times, and my kids of made some friends at each place. It’s early to know whether they have any lifelong friends among them.

The thing I’ve noticed about moving to a new city is you don’t know how easy it will be to find your people. Sometimes it’s really hard. I’d love to think that tech allows the whole world to be your city, but I can’t imagine a healthy way for my kids to really meet their people purely online. They’d have to spend so much time on platforms full of low-frequency attention harvesting just to bump into them. And never know for sure who they are, filtered through a crafted persona.

So far, tech seems great for staying connected to your people, but not so much for finding them. And kids are losing the skills needed to find people in real life. Even when together, they are posting and scrolling, attention diverted from each other.

I don’t want to be an old man shaking his cane at the clouds, but I feel for my kids and their generation. Making friends seems more complicated than it was for me, and my context was so different that I have little relevant advice or wisdom to offer. Simply staying off social media or limiting screen time can prevent some negative stuff, but it doesn’t by itself create the positive connections.

Making friends seems to require a lot of deliberate effort these days, something that I did not experience.