Americans now are even bigger friendless losers than they were in years past, according to a recent survey of 2,019 U.S. adults by the Survey Center on American Life, a nonpartisan research group run by the right-leaning think tank American Enterprise Institute.
Americans and I have something in common. 47 percent of those surveyed said they lost touch with at least a few friends over the past 12 months. I’m hearing reports that one blogger in particular is sorry to those old college friends whose texts she took days to respond to during the pandemic, and sorry especially to the friend whose wedding she still hasn’t RSVPed for even though it’s happening in two months.
22 percent of respondents and one anonymous content creator said they haven’t made a new friend in at least five years, unless you include friends at a recently relaunched website, which doesn’t really count because it’s mostly a professionally satisfying connection that shouldn’t get prematurely mistaken for personal familiarity, at least not before the first drunken karaoke hang.
Also according to the survey, it appears fewer Americans have close friends compared to those who responded to a 1990 Gallup poll, with the percentage of people who said they have 10 or more close friends falling from 33 to 13 percent over the past three decades. I don’t know anyone who has 10 close friends except in the movies; I feel like — excuse me, I mean some might argue that if you insist that you have a dozen close friends, your bonds are not formed of true intimacy but of group dynamics and convenience.
Finally, fewer Americans today claim to have a best friend, with the percentage of self-described BFFs falling from 75 in 1990 to 59 in 2021. The last time a source who shall rename unnamed remembers having a best friend — two, even! — is in fourth grade, but they haven’t talked since like high school when one of them became a goth kid, one a volleyball player, and one an honors nerd who would go on to make a living producing meaningful articles about friendship for the web.
Daniel A. Cox, the study’s author, attributed the national friendship crisis to three main factors: isolation and loneliness from increased geographic mobility and putting off marriage (check); spending more time with parents compared to previous generations (check); and working too much (check).
The study did not offer any remedies to this dire situation, which is fine, really, because honestly the emotional lives of Americans are probably really fulfilling anyways, Mom…