Thoughts on building a social life


#1

As primates, we are social creatures. We need quality interaction with other human beings everyday or else we start to fade. Without friendship, we may seek escapism from the our boredom, monotony, and loneliness through our screens.

After seeing lonelness as a recurring theme in a lot of nosurfers I thought we could make the social component a part of nosurf too.

Some nosurfers were lonely as children due to bad conditions at home, bullying, or social awkardness. Their screens became a refuge from the real world. They could meet others like them who were kind and empathetic to their problems, who could really understand them as no one in the real world could.

Others nosurfers became experienced loneliness as they got older. Every year tons of young people graduate from college only to find out "the real world"is a lonely place. Some may move to new cities for work and find it difficult to start their social lives from scratch. Others have all their friends move throughout the country and are the ones left behind.

As we grow older we might lose touch with people as real world responsibilities take over, people work more and more, and start settling down.

As a result our screen use can slowly increase overtime until it gets to the point where we we are relying on it to alleviate boredom and replace the social connection we once had. We come home from work, browse through our facebook and instagram feeds while having Netflix on in the background. After a while we go to bed only to repeat it the next day.

It doesn’t really matter what category you fall under, the solution is just to develop the motivation to build up your social life and see that as one of the pillars of nosurf.

So I thought I could start some practical discussion on the topic of making friends and building a social life.

Growth Mindset

If you’re just starting out on this it’s beneficial to approach it from a growth mindset. If you’ve been lonely for years you might have a lot of limiting beliefs about your social ability and label yourself as awkard or even unlikable.

I think it’s really good to look at our social ability as something that can be developed through practice, a bit like how muscles can get stronger or how we can get faster by running consistently rather than something immutable like our eye color or how tall we are.

It might be worth reading Mindset by Carol Dweck as a basic foundation for going in. It’s mostly geared toward academic performance in students but she also applies the growth mindset to artistic abilities, our personality, and other less academic areas.

Less Screen Time Is Good For Your Social Skills

The cool thing is that just by deciding to nosurf you’ve taken a step on you’re journey. In a book I read either Subliminal by Leanord Mlodinow or Adam Alter’s book there was a study showing that children who spent 3 days at a tech free summer camp scored 48% higher on measures of nonverbal social skills.

This makes a lot of sense, since most of communication in real life is nonverbal and implicit, we lose these abilities when we move to our screens where we can’t pick up peoples tonality, micro expressions, and body language. By spending less time on our screens we actually become better and better and reading these nonverbal cues.

By spending as much time as possible interacting with real people, your brain will naturally pick up social skills like how infants naturally learn languages just by being around people speaking them.

How To Win Friends and Influence People & The Charisma Myth

https://www.amazon.com/How-Win-Friends-Influence-People/dp/0671027034/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1533324374&sr=1-7&keywords=how+to+win+friends+and+influence+people&dpID=51X7dEUFgoL&preST=SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40&dpSrc=srch

The information in this book may seem obvious but you’d be surprised at how often people violate some of these rules.

I think it’s worth a read and it might be enlightening to many who don’t realize that social skills are a complex interplay of intangibles regarding what you say, how you say it, and how people perceive you as a result.


I haven’t read this yet but it seems interesting. It ties into the ideas of the growth mindset that by establishing that being charismatic and likeable are learnable skills.

Patook & Meetup

I found an app meant to help find friends. It sounds a little odd, even kind of lame but you have to remember that online dating was once considered weird and embarrassing too. So I’m sure within a few years, saying you became friends through an app will be considered normal.

The one I’ve used is Patook. It actually works pretty well and I’ve met a few people through it. Also remember, you have to put in effort on your profiles and talk to other people. Don’t just write “Hi I’m Nik I’m 24” and expect people to reach out.

The other is Meetup.com. You can use meetup.com to sign up for local meetups. Attend everything, even if it’s not your cup of tea. Every opportunity for social interaction is a chance for your social skills to get better and better.

Approach all this with the intention to get out of your comfort zone. Also think of it as a numbers game. With each social interaction there is the chance that you might just meet someone cool and awesome.


#2

Another great way to find local meetups is by checking out your local newspaper, especially if you live in a smaller town. Sometimes you can find advertisements for local events in there.
Checking out your town‘s Facebook group works as well, but if you‘re not 100% comfortable with Facebook, I‘d suggest not to use this method.


#3

I have used meetup. I already found a writer’s group through this that meets at my local book store!


#4

I had a few thoughts recently that I was going to post in my journal but then I decide it might be more appropriate for this thread since it’s on a similar topic.

Looking back on what I wrote earlier in this thread, I still agree with most of it. I think the books and mindset are definitely important to have going in, as well as using meetup.com to facilitate friendship if you’re starting from scratch. However I would no longer recomend Patook.

It’s a good concept but the notion of making friends just doesn’t have the incentive behind it that dating apps do. Meaning that a lot of people are flakey and don’t really put that much effort into the process. I’ve since abandoned the “digital” strategy.

Since then, I’ve found a lot more success in building up my social life. The last few weekends have been really fun and active. This is in sharp contrast to my period of internet addiction where I had essentially zero social life. Before that I was always outgoing and had a big social circle, but after being internet addicted I lost touch with a lot of close friends and also many of them moved away to other cities in the U.S. for work. (SF, Austin, NYC)

This mean that post internet addiction, I was essentially starting from scratch in my mid twenties with almost no friends I saw regularly. If I’m being honest, this was a shitty situation to be in, it’s really hard to make friends as an adult because it takes a lot of time to build up trust and bonds as you get older compared to when you’re younger and these things happen quickly.

But it is possible so if anyone finds themself in a similar situation, I just thought I’d share my experience so that they don’t get caught up in loneliness and feeling like it’s impossible to start a social circle from scratch.

The last few weekends I have been playing badminton regularly with my friends, last weekend I went to a food festival and then made pasta from scratch led by one of my foodie friends. I’m really happy and glad to have met these people. It’s nice to feel part of a group, it’s something I haven’t felt since college and forgot how much I missed it. It’s also really nice to have something to look forward to on the horizon.

The thing is, this social life wasn’t something that sprung up organically, I put a lot of thought into how to go about being social again.

These are just my thoughts on what worked if anyone finds them helpful:

Taking Initivative

It’s easy to complain about not having a social life but you kind of having to ask yourself “what am I doing to get friends?” Friendship occurred naturally for me in high school and college because people are always in front of you and interaction occurs naturally. Once you’re out of that period it takes a lot more effort. So it’s really on you to take initiative, if you’re the person that wants friends you have to really put in the effort to doing so rather than expecting people to come to you.

This means you have to be the one to organize and lead social activities. You have to be the one to text the group and organize activities for the weekend, work things around everyone’s busy schedule.

Picking out what venue to attend, what to do after, what activities you’ll do, all this responsibility falls upon you as the person taking initiative.

Essentially in this case, everyone’s hungry but you’re the one who takes charge and decides to cook the meal so that no one starves including yourself.

The Law Of 1 Friend

The law of 1 friend states that even the loneliest peorson has 1 friend (this is just an assumption, might not be true but in most cases seems to be true). So that person should connect with that 1 friend, who in turn should connect with their one friend and so on. You can build a friend group this way quite effectively, provided every single person coming in to the group also wants to have a vibrant social life too.

This law held true for me and worked primarily because everyone in my friend group is 22-24. Meaning they were young professionals recently out of college who had their social life’s drastically fall in activity since being in college. Mostly due to them moving or their friends moving away, or being very busy with their careers.

What Do You Bring To The Table?

You have to be fun, awesome, kind, and social. If you want to have great friends, you have to be a great friend.

Pick Your Activities Wisely

Fun fast paced active and hands on activities are better than passive consumption based activities. Watching sports, going out to eat, watching a movie together or anything else where you’re passively sitting, not doing much aren’t good activities.

My friends and I don’t think this actually leads to any “chemistry” with each other. At first we tried going out to watch UFC fights, watching movies and other things but we quickly realized that in these scenarios we are all very passive. We could have all just sat and home and watched these individually. It would’ve have led to the same amount of social interaction.

So prioritize for things that involves activity, meaningful conversation, or creation. We usually do badminton, board games, or we cook a lot of our meals that we eat from scratch. We also drink tea and sit around having pseudo intellectual debates about life and the future.

These are just my thoughts for now. If I have more I’ll share them.


#5

I’ve been pretty lonesome for most of my life too. Unfortunately, I was never a popular kid like you once were. I’m pretty sure that I started to rely on YouTube from age 12 because I was so dang lonely. I’d come home and all I’d do was watch YouTube videos and even work on a channel of my own. I worked so hard on it that I was even offered a YouTube partnership at one point.

Basically, being alienated pretty much all my life forced me to find ways to enjoy my time alone and find connection in the world even without the presence of close friendships or relationships. Making friends is a good thing but I think it’s also equally valuable to learn to find joy even when you are alone. It’s clear that I’m an introvert but like all humans I still crave a connection to the world and to others.

One way I achieve that connection in isolation is to realize that deep down all humans are all connected. Every single interaction I have with someone throughout the day (regardless of if they’re my friend or not) has a great impact on the world. I remember when I was depressed and people would do little nice things for me and it seriously brightened my day so much. I try to pay it forward as much as I can now that I’m not in that mental state anymore. The book that I’m reading right now How to be Compassionate by The Dalai Lama seems to describe a similar approach to this. You can find great meaning in even the smallest of social interactions if you go in with the right mindset.

I think I also fill this void by searching for new “mountains” to climb all the time. I’m constantly goal setting. I’m constantly trying to grow myself in a way that will benefit the world. These things make my life feel worth while even when I haven’t interacted with others in a relationship/friendship-like way in a while.

For so long I thought that being a social reject most of my life was a horrible thing, but now I can see that this experience has actually taught me many valuable life lessons.