How many close friends do you have?
One? Two? Five? Do you think you have enough close friends, or do you wish you had more?
A few weeks I read in the newspaper that the average American person has only two close friends or relatives they can confide in. And in most cases, the persons they confided in were usually members of their immediate family.
When I read this I was shocked, because I didnt think that having only two people to confide in was enough. And it turns out that just two decades ago, the average American person had at least three people they could confide in. So, it seems the number of close friends the average American has is going down.
Although it might be hard to prove, the researchers believed that a hundred years ago, most Americans would have had many more close friends than they do now. So, the number of close friendships is dwindling, even as American society seems to be getting richer and richer in the material sense.
Now, if you dont happen to live in the United States, you might think, What does that have to do with me?
Many of the same factors that are making it harder for Americans to have really close friends that they can confide in are also affecting people in other parts of the world as well.
All over the world, more and more people have to move to big cities to try to find work. Often they have to leave behind the close-knit communities where their families lived for generations.
Once they are in big cities, they find that cities can be very exciting places to live, but cities are also filled with lots of lonely people crammed close together. Too often, the people crammed into these cities are not connecting with each other. They’re too busy, and they don’t have time to get to know a lot of strangers to find out who they like and who they don’t like.
Many people today all over the world are having to work longer hours just to pay the bills and stay alive. Lots of times they spend hours commuting, and when they come home they are too tired to do much more than eat supper and watch television.
The sort of free time our grandparents had to visit with each other on the front porch and relax has often disappeared. In many places, the sense of community has disappeared because too many buildings have been knocked down and replaced by impersonal high rises, and too many long-time residents have moved away to be replaced by strangers.
Even our technology that is supposed to help us connect with each other can also keep us apart.
Television can show us what is happening to people around the globe, but when we keep our eyes glued to the television set, we end up not knowing the people who live down the street. If we watch too much television, or spend too much time playing video games, we might end up not really knowing the people who live in our own household!
So, loneliness is becoming ever more common as we get more advanced.
Recently, I experienced a big crisis in my life when one of my close family members became very sick. I could not have gotten through this crisis without the emotional and practical support of a lot of people.
If I only had one or two other people I could count on, I would not have survived this crisis with my sanity in one piece. I needed a lot of comfort and reassurance, and if I only had one or two people, that would not have been enough.
So, if youre one of those people who only has one or two close friends, this is a reminder that when you are in a time of crisis, you might wish you had more. The time to start making those extra friends is now.
Instead of complaining about the fact that society has become too busy and too impersonal, we can each take steps to ensure that we slow down and examine whether we are getting the human contact we want.
And if we are not getting enough human contact, we must each make the individual commitment to try to change things for the better in our own life, and for those around us. We must give before we can receive.
Reach out, talk to more people, show that you care about them, and thank them when they care about you.