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The 52:52:52 project, launching both on this site and on social media in early 2024 will help you address 52 issues with 52 responses over 52 weeks.

A Mundane Comedy is Dominic Kelleher's new book, which will be published in mid 2024. The introduction is available here and further extracts will appear on this site and on social media in the coming months.

This site addresses what's changing, in our own lives, in our organisations, and in wider society. You'll learn about key changes across more than 150 areas, ranging from ageing and time, through nature and animals, to kindness and love...and very much else inbetween.

Halcyon's aim is to help you reflect on how you can better deal with related change in your own life.

What's Changing? - Friendship

Friendship

 

Please see below selected recent friendship-related change.

 

See also:

 

February 2024

 

November 2023

 

August 2023

  • A legacy of poverty, genocide and dictatorship left Zimbabwe struggling with an epidemic of depression. A landmark project was therefore launched, employing grandmothers to deliver therapy on park benches. Founded in 2007, the Friendship Bench project treated 280,000 people in its first 16 years of existence, in 70 communities across Zimbabwe and at spin-off projects in Malawi, Kenya and most recently Zanzibar and Vietnam. The concept has proven so successful that it’s hoped that it can be exported around the world.

 

July 2023

  • Author Matt Dickins argued that there is a male friendship recession: in the US, since 1990, there has been a fivefold increase in the number of men reporting that they have no close friends, while in the UK, a 2018 study by the Movember Foundation suggested things are even worse: one in three men asked could not name a single close friend. One of the causes could be the decline of the workplace as a social hub: the workplace is increasingly not a great place to make and maintain friendships, especially since the post-pandemic rise of remote and hybrid-working.


 

April 2023

  • Richard Reeves, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, talked of a “friendship recession.” He notes that loneliness can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes per day, but measuring and quantifying friendships is difficult. According to Reeves, an ideal number of close friends is around three or four, but 15% of young men today report having no close friends, compared with 3% in the 1990s. The COVID pandemic further tested friendship networks, with women being the most affected due to their friendships’ reliance on physical contact. Other factors likely have contributed to the decline in friendships in the 21st century include geographical mobility, parenting demands, work pressures, and relationship breakdowns.
  • In the US, in the last 30 years, the percentage of people with <=1 close friend nearly tripled to 20% of the population. The percentage of people who report 10+ close friends dropped from 40% to 15%.

 

March 2023

  • Psyche warned that such is the pace and busyness of many people’s adult lives that they can lose contact with their friends at a rapid rate. A study by the Dutch sociologist Gerald Mollenhorst found that, over a period of seven years, people had lost touch with half of their closest friends, on average. Many people seem to be losing friends faster than they can replace them. A meta-analysis by researchers in Germany published in 2013 combined data from 177,635 participants across 277 studies, and concluded that friendship networks had been shrinking for the preceding 35 years.

 

December 2022

 

September 2022

 

July 2022

 

March 2022

  • Research shows that many people don’t really know what works best to help their friends effectively. Moreover, the support we do provide, such as giving advice, is often ineffective. Part of the challenge is that there are just so many possible ways to intervene. A survey of the methods that people used to manage their friends’ emotions identified 378 distinct strategies, including allowing the other person to vent their emotions, acting silly to make the other person laugh, and helping to rationalise the other person’s decisions. Given this large variety of strategies, it’s no wonder that deciding what to do when you have a friend in tears can be a little overwhelming, noted Psyche.

 

February 2022

  • Research suggests that many people don’t really know what works best to help their friends effectively. Moreover, the support they do provide, such as giving advice, is often ineffective. Part of the challenge is that there are just so many possible ways to intervene. A survey of the methods that people used to manage their friends’ emotions identified 378 distinct strategies, including allowing the other person to vent their emotions, acting silly to make the other person laugh, and helping to rationalise the other person’s decisions.
  • In a New York Times guide, columnist Tara Parker-Pope discussed research on how to be a better friend, including how to make friendships last, how to listen more effectively, and how to have better arguments. 
  • The Ten Percent Happier podcast hosted by the journalist Dan Harris, broadcast one episode on making and keeping friends, with the evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar of the University of Oxford.

 

December 2021

 

September 2021

 

December 2020

  • While many people have friends at work, few feel they have truly close friends there, according to Yale professor Marissa King. She noted the somewhat forced nature of reporting structures and seating assignments, the transactional nature of work and the complications money can bring to relationships. But deep work friendships can benefit employees and employers alike. “Employees who report having close friends at work are more efficient, more satisfied with their job, and even less likely to get in accidents at work,” writes King.

 

October 2020

 

June 2020

  • In early 2020, Samsung released information about a new line of AI-fuelled humanoid ‘friends’ called NEONS.Unlike AI assistants like Siri or Alexa, STAR Labs' computationally created beings aren't programmed to be "know-it-all bots" or an interface to answer users' questions and demands. Instead, the avatars are designed to converse and sympathise "like real people" in order to act as hyper lifelike companions. In the near future, STAR Labs envisions people being able to license or subscribe to a Neon, with different virtual humans being able to offer different services such as a customer service adviser, a financial adviser, healthcare provider or concierge. With further developments they could work as television presenters, spokespeople or actors. Alternatively, the avatars could simply act as companions or friends.

 

March 2020

  • Show your friends your boring life, advised Quartz. While social media couldn’t be about showing off exotic vacations during the coronavirus crisis, mundanity became what could bring us together now.
  • Henry Ford may have captured the power of friendship in the workplace when he said: “My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me”, but can that special relationship be the key to employee happiness and productivity? Research seems to point that way with Gallup finding a link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort employees put in. Fewer safety incidents, more engaged customers and a boost in profits are among the benefits when employees have a work best friend, according to the performance management consultancy.

 

December 2019

  • Research has shown that when employees have friends at work they are better performers, more engaged, and happier with their jobs. However, thanks in large part to technology, how we relate to our coworkers is changing in two important ways. First, we are less likely to live close to our coworkers. This means that we may not have the opportunity for in-person, informal shared experiences (e.g. running into each other at the “water cooler”) as well as organisationally sponsored shared experiences (company events/dinners). Second, we increasingly rely on technology to communicate with our colleagues. Interacting through media like text and instant messages and video makes it harder to get a sense of who someone is.

 

October 2019

  • In her book The Friendship Cure, Kate Leaver argued for the value of friends and that they are worth it for the benefit to cardiovascular health alone. She writes that “social integration and close relationships are the most important predictors of mortality, well above things like alcohol consumption, exercise and diet.” With a network of reliable friends, we live longer and in better health, and good friends an also make us feel good. 
  • Biologically, our ability to develop and maintain social connections is directly related to the size of our brain. The research of Robin Dunbar demonstrated that because we are limited by our brain capacity, the fitness advantage of larger social groups was a driver in the evolution of parts of the brain. Other scientists have corroborated this idea that our larger brains are primarily a social versus ecological adaptation. It wasn’t because we happened to have a bigger brain for say, hunting, that we pursued complex social relationships, but rather that these relationships were critical for the evolutionary development of neocortical capacity. Friends made us smarter and gave us more potential. Looking at ourselves through a biological lens, therefore, suggests that one of the advantages to friendships is the diversity they create. 

 

September 2019

  • As people get older, it’s hard enough sustaining friendships, let alone forming new ones. Amid a host of competing priorities - the demands of jobs, children, partners and ageing parents -friendships are all too easily lost. In The Happiness Curve, Jonathan Rauch sees mid-life as a phase, a bit like adolescence. It’s a transition from striving for success and ratcheting up achievements to another part of our lives: discovering our fundamental values, compassion and reflection. Friends can help people figure that out. With the perennial time constraints in mind, however, each person needs to find out what works best for them. Kate Leaver, author of The Friendship Cure, says the most common question she is asked is how to make friends as an adult as “so many of our earliest friendships are shaped by convenience and proximity”.

 

August 2019

 

June 2019

 

March 2019

  • Among the things that can make us happiest in life is connecting with other people, yet it’s often the first thing to fall off our priority list as we focus on exercise, diet, and productivity, claimed Quart, exploring what community means and why our social networks are shrinking in spite of our hyper-connectivity.

 

February 2019

  • For The School of Life, the key to the problem of friendship is found in an odd-sounding place: a lack of a sense of purpose. Our attempts at friendship tend to go adrift, because we collectively resist the task of developing a clear picture of what friendship is really for. The problem is that we are unfairly uncomfortable with the idea of friendship having any declared purpose, because we associate purpose with the least attractive and most cynical motives. Yet purpose doesn’t have to ruin friendship and in fact, the more we define what a friendship might be for, the more we can focus in on what we should be doing with every person in our lives – or indeed the more we can helpfully conclude that we shouldn’t be with them at all.
  • In On Acquiring an Enemy, The School of Life explained what it is like when what you’re up against is properly sinister: you have a committed enemy, someone who genuinely despises you and appears hell bent on causing you pain and humiliation. At least in theory, they want you dead. However, perhaps you are dealing with a wounded figure, not an impregnable foe: the enemy’s unreasonable, unjust and cruel qualities may be merely strategies they’ve come up with to cope with their own suffering. 

 

January 2019

 

December 2018

  • Raconteur noted that Henry Ford may have captured the power of friendship in the workplace when he said: “My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me”. Research seems to point that way with Gallup finding a link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort employees put in. Fewer safety incidents, more engaged customers and a boost in profits are among the benefits when employees have a work best friend, according to the performance management consultancy.

 

November 2018

  • More people are living longer these days - but what can we do to ensure that our added years are happy ones, asked Quartz? The answer, according to one researcher, lies in intergenerational friendships. While contemporary culture conspires to keep the young and old segregated from one another, initiatives in places like Singapore and London are creating opportunities for them to connect over shared meals, reading lessons, and dance parties.

 

September 2018

  • The key to the problem of friendship, for The School of Life (TSOL), is found in an odd-sounding place: a lack of a sense of purpose. Our attempts at friendship tend to go adrift, because we collectively resist the task of developing a clear picture of what friendship is really for. The problem is that we are unfairly uncomfortable with the idea of friendship having any declared purpose, because we associate purpose with the least attractive and most cynical motives. Yet purpose doesn’t have to ruin friendship and in fact, the more we define what a friendship might be for, the more we can focus in on what we should be doing

 

August 2018

 

July 2018

 

Pre 2018

  • Historian Theodore Zeldin says that the idea of friendship has, over the centuries, changed radically and has created a new pressing issue for humanity - the need for real conversation. It is not new lands we need to be discovering but other people's thoughts. However Zeldin believes that between the ages of 20 and 40 people lose about one friend every year.

  • Martha Mason believed that the richest man in the world is not the one who still has the first dollar he ever earned. It's the man who still has his best friend.

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