Modern rules of engagement – Lincolnshire locals reveal what it takes to make friends in a digital world
· New data looks at the new rules of engagement for making friends as figures show the average person in Lincolnshire has 3 friends they’ve never met face-to-face
· Half of people in the UK now make friends on the internet – even over 65s have two friends they’ve never met in person
· A quarter of millennials (25-34 year-olds) nationwide say they now only make friends online
· Friendship Expert Kate Leaver reveals how the mechanics for making friends have changed, leaving many behind
It will not only take Lincolnshire locals an average of 6 meetings and 143 days for someone to consider them an official friend, but also 21 private messages and 15 ‘likes’ of their social media posts, according to new research out today.
The study by Konnect shows how rules of engagement for fledgling friendships are changing, as the average person in Lincolnshire now has 3 friends they’ve never met face-to-face.
Nationwide, a tenth (9 per cent) told researchers they make all of their new friends online, with a quarter (26 per cent) of millennials (25 – 34) saying they only ever make friends thanks to the internet.
Older generations aren’t alien to this either, with the average 45 – 54-year-old in the UK friendly with 5 people they’ve never met and those aged 65 and over having two such relationships.
The way we all make friends is changing so quickly that almost half (48 per cent) of all adults in the UK now make at least some of their friends through the internet.
Friendship through the ages
Millennials, those aged between 25 – 34, are the most reliant on the internet for forming friendships with just 18 per cent saying they never make friends online.
In fact, these millennials are also those with the most friendships with people they have never met face-to-face, 11 on average.
But online friendships are by no means exclusive to younger generations: Half (50 per cent) of those aged 65+ say acquaintances will have to ‘like’ at least some of their social media posts before they consider their friendship ‘official’.
On average, it will take those of retirement age 6 meetings, 181 days, 14 private messages and 9 social media ‘likes’ to class someone a friend.
According to the researchers, it takes longer to become friends with anyone in their mid-forties (208 days) and mid-fifties (219 days) than any other age group.
This compares to just 52 days for the youngest generation in the study, those aged 18 – 24.
As the UK’s loneliness epidemic continues, Friendship Expert, Kate Leaver, says it is vital that everybody in society is given the tools they need to make friends in the modern day.
She says: “The world has changed in the past 18 months, in so many frightening ways.
“A lot of us have noticed that our friendships have either become more precious and intense, or fallen by the wayside in the scramble to keep ourselves safe, make a living, look after our families and deal with a rapidly changing world.
“We’re now seeing people across all age groups and demographics appreciating the benefits and loveliness of connecting with people properly online.
“As we deal with isolation, working from home, changing social priorities and the logistics of modern life, we all deserve to have the tools to access friendships online.”
She, gives this advice for not falling foul of the new rules for engagement:
· Work out what your digital love language is with each of your friends. Some relationships need frequent, casual contact to maintain; others require long, meaningful chats, but less often. It really helps to know who needs what and be open about which format of communication you can handle on any particular day.
· Some of your friends might like to exchange memes and Tik Toks incessantly, others might prefer a personalised podcast in the form of a long, rambling voice note on WhatsApp. Sometimes you’ll need to keep your chat in text form, for mental health or time management reasons. Video call is wonderful, but Zoom fatigue is real and we have to just respect each other’s energy constraints.
· Try being vulnerable and honest with the people you trust. Especially if you’re not meeting in person quite as much, it helps to up the openness and candour of your digital conversations so you can still access that lovely intimacy and chemistry we need from our friendships.
· Don’t be afraid to make new friends online. The internet is obviously fantastic for reconnecting with people from a long time ago, and checking in with old friends, but it’s also a great way to make new friends. That could mean interacting with someone on Twitter because you share the same interests (maybe you both follow the #FreeBritney hashtag or enjoy swapping Harry Styles facts, for example) or perhaps you actually download an app like Bumble with the express purpose of meeting new people (they have a BFF setting to find platonic connections).
James Soames, Global Marketing Director for Konnect said: “Over the past year there’s been much focus on how reliable internet connections, especially in rural areas, are needed to support working from home help us stay connected to our friends and family.
But it’s been overlooked how important the internet can be in making solid relationships in the first place, especially at a time when we’re still feeling disconnected from normality.
“Although we continue to move towards a pre-pandemic life, our behaviours have changed and the research shows this by highlighting just how important the internet is in helping us make connections with people old and new.
“What’s great is there’s no need for anyone to struggle with a poor internet service no matter where they live, satellite broadband from Konnect provides a great option for those beyond the fibre footprint to receive affordable internet allowing them to enjoy the things they love with ease.”