It’s a well known fact that we have some difficulty making friends as adults. Things aren’t quite as simple as they used to be when we were kids. We are far more cautious, inhibited and judgemental, preventing us from opening ourselves to meaningful friendships. If you are able to get beyond this, it’s still not enough because the other person must be in the same phase as you in order to forge a friendship. Well, this can be artificially curated by using social lubricants such as alcohol but it’s not sustainable. So how do we make way for strong meaningful friendships that last longer?
Honestly, I don’t have an answer but i have my own personal experience to share, which might give you some insight into what type of friendships live and which ones die. I have seen 2 types of friendships (oversimplifying of course) through my adultlife – one where i like to feel needed and another where i need someone and it’s important to figure out early on what’s in the relationship for you.
If you need someone and the other person locked in friendship on the other side is also in need of someone, this is doomed to be a failed relationship. Now if both your needs harmoniously alternate most of the time, that’s one phenomenal friendship, but it takes magic for this to happen and one that needs to nurtured over time.But like me, if you have just moved to a new country, have a young child that doesn’t allow you to have a social life or you are an introvert, chances are this is an exponentially bigger problem for you.
My office had a summer party two days ago, and I just cringed at the thought of being surrounded by thousands of strangers. I couldn’t have hung out with “normal” people (the ones without kids), because I’d be too distracted for them. I couldn’t have hung out with the “parents” as they’d have been too distracted for me. I’ve come to realize (the hard way, that too) that you won’t quite get what I mean unless you are a parent and you vaguely want the same things as me in life.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love hanging out with people and having a great time but off-late, it’s been very challenging for just too many reasons, and not all of them have something to do with me. For instance, I’ve been trying to make plans for three weeks to go have coffee with our neighbours (yes, the folks who live next door!!!) and it keeps getting pushed. For instance, this would never happen back home, where I come from. The cost of socialising in this country is especially high for an introvert like me, who is also grappling with other life transitions.
Whenever there’s been a high cost of doing business, we have seen instances of machines taking over. So, although I am all for sitting down with someone for a coffee face to face, I think bots should replace humans as friends. I should be able to create my own friend, who will offer me anything and everything I want. Given that all my friendships are virtual and the most widely accepted mode of communication is over text (who the hell calls over phone nowadays, that’s just weird), I think chat bots can be life changing.
People should be able to store all their thoughts, and expected reciprocation and this bought should be able to use ML to become your best friend over time. That way, everybody would have a best friend. The more information you feed the friend, the more effective the friend is. You know what the best part is, there’s no way this bot would ever be moody, or jealous or get away from you after getting married, etc. The only down side with this though is data protection, which is also not a guarantee with friends, anyway because with information parity, there’s been a significant drop in loyalty in the world. Ok no, there’s more – I don’t necessarily want my bot to be sending ads my way, that would be damn annoying.
Well, I know this sounds mad, and sad, but you know what, loneliness is one of the biggest illnesses of our generation and if machines can help cure it like most other things in the world, then why not. So, if you are already trying to build this, let’s talk. I am no programmer, but I am a bit of a dreamer at least.