And every day I hear about another new app designed to help people in cities make friends because we’re all so bloody lonely. But what the makers never seem to understand is that lack of choice is not the problem. Swiping and matching with theoretically like-minded people is effortless. Meeting those people and getting to know them and coordinating plans to meet again is hard work — Rosie Leizrowice
I recently posted the above quote on Facebook and someone asked me why people behave that way with their friendships and I responded with the following (I edited it for more clarity).
Firstly, it springs from a phenomenon known as the tyranny of convenience. We live in a culture of constant convenience. Ready-made food & drinks, overnight shipping & delivery, fast-checkout, iPhone and android apps, Netflix, Miss Alexa, smart house appliances etc—all designed to make our lives easier. Convenience sells. These tools aren’t necessarily bad in and of themselves. The problem is that these life advancements start making us lazy. The ‘convenience attitude’ now spills over into our human relationships. We don’t want to call someone and or meet up because ‘we’re tired’ and it’s too inconvenient to drive or take a train to meet someone every week at 7 pm. When a growing relationship gets too uncomfortable (i.e. seeing a person’s flaws/dark sides, conflict issues, confrontational situations) or awkward, we abandon ship and look for another easy ‘option’. We start to crave easy and conflict-free relationships. Fighting for a friendship/relationship takes too much time and effort. We start wanting a great friendship/relationship to just develop itself with barely any effort on our part.
The second part of the problem is known as the ‘paradox of choice’. We have too many choices/options. Multiple options for food, clothes, shoes, accessories, gadgets, cars, vacation and other products/services. And the internet (especially advertising & social media) puts them in our face everyday. When we make a decision to buy a particular product we aren’t happy about our decision because there are other products that we have to forgo to get that one product. We become afraid of missing out on a potential ‘better’ option—or the perfect satisfactory option. More choices supposed to make us more happy since it reflects abundance of options for us to enjoy instead it makes us feel miserable about any decision we make. This applies to different areas of our life. People find it difficult to commit one option because they want to explore all their ‘options’ hoping to enjoy the benefits of every option without missing out anything. This attitude also spills over into relationships (and other areas of our lives including career decisions etc). And people start looking for the perfect relationship choice (which doesn’t exist) so that they don’t miss out on anything. Social media also makes its seem that a perfect relationship/friendship is out there because we see the best sides of people on their social media profiles. We can’t commit to any relationship long term because we want to explore every possible relationship option. FOMO (fear of missing out) controls our lives. Combine this with the our obsession with convenience. We then have unsatisfied people who won’t commit/build/fight for their friendship/relationship, who keep hunting for the perfect easy relationship which requires the least minimal effort. Swiping different people on Tinder or Bumble (popular dating/friendship apps) or simply saying you want to ‘hang out’ is easier than taking a train at 1 am to comfort a friend who struggling with depression, self-hatred or addiction. Finding a new friendship/relationship is easier than building the present friendships/relationships right in front of us. And app creators forget that there are some things you can’t ‘technologize’ or enhance—the simple hard work of relationship building.
These articles also can help shed some light on the subject, if you’re interested: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/16/opinion/sunday/tyranny-convenience.html