Playing Freely on the Streets

When you grew up, did you play freely on the street?

The people who learned to play on the street learned social negotiation. They had unscripted, unmonitored, unfiltered interaction with people. They made friends, broke up, and made friends again.

They developed social muscles.

An adult needs to play freely on the street as well.

That means talking to people waiting in line with you, talking to people on the train or at the cafe, to people in any kinds of groups: book club, movie club, sports club.

We do not have this practice at the moment.

We have a friendship problem.

Modern loneliness masks itself as hyper connectivity"

The algorithms that control our lives are predictive technologies that gives us a form of "assisted living"

You get it all served in uncomplicated, lack of friction, and you no longer know how to deal with people.

People are complex systems. Relationships, friendships are complex system.

They require a balance of different needs, expectations, experiences, and perspectives, and that cannot be achieved through simple, technical solutions.

Friendships are by nature made of friction and involve day-to-day life intricacies.

Friction is not just interrupting your day to help out a friend, but also being vulnerable enough to admit that you need help from them.

We're living in an illusion of a friction-free life with Amazon prime, Doordash, Instacart, and Tinder, satisfying all our needs, while consuming an endless stream of entertainment.

This leads to "social atrophy"

We're so burned out from our screen-based, data-heavy lives that we no longer have time or energy for the small, mundane, place-based friendships that has nourished and sustained us for centuries.

But as we face for the major crisis of our time, such as climate change, a high degree of social trust is needed. We're going to need to return to the basic human experience of relying on the people around us.

We have to liberate ourselves from the idea that if we work hard enough, we can buy or summon anything we need within 24 hours, and that we no longer need to ask anything of anyone.

We have to start "playing on the streets"

That means going to situations where you don't know how they might pan out.

Be willing to engage with people with different views.

Make effort with friends, new and old, and ask for the help and support we need, and providing it in return.

These are muscles we need to rebuild.

We are not machines, we need to make changes to regain the ability to show up for these kinds interactions and relationships.

That means being less available for other things, the shiny and loud things inside your phone that insists there's someone, somewhere, saying or doing something that you think you should know about.