Each of us has our own portfolio of friends. As we head into the new year, consider diversifying.
To switch metaphors: There’s been a lot of discussion lately about news silos. With so much information bombarding us every day, it’s sometimes easier to choose a cable station or online news outlet you agree with and then just stick with it.
In an increasingly polarized world, our news (read: political) preferences can wind up defining our social–and social media–silos. We carefully craft how we interact with people, and whom we interact with, both online and in real life (IRL). Our friend groups become an extension of our own belief sets, and sometimes we hesitate to venture outside of this bubble.
Does this mean we’ve forgotten the art of small talk, of casual interactions? It turns out, everyday encounters are good for us. Researchers have found that chatting to the barista at your coffee shop or striking up a conversation with a stranger on the bus can be good for your soul. These “weak tie” interactions (as opposed to the “strong ties” you may have with close friends and family members) contribute to heightened well-being, according to the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
Furthermore, if you think you’re better off with the “alone time” afforded by a long commute or a solitary meal, consider this: The Journal of Experimental Psychology reported on a study about interactions among strangers on a train. They designated three groups of railway commuters: Some were instructed to engage in conversations with strangers; some were told to enjoy the solitude; the third group was told to do what they would normally do. Those in the first group, who engaged in casual chit chat, reported “significantly more positive” experiences than the control group–those who rode in solitude.
Our takeaway is this: Not every productive encounter has to be significant, deep or even confrontational. We can interact with others in a friendly way without “going there.”
At Mixolo, we believe that the only way to reverse the trend of narrower and narrower social groups is to step outside of our bubbles and expand our sense of community. Empathy can only be built through real-life interactions with people we may not always agree with.
Back to the original metaphor: The dotcom bubble taught us to not invest every penny in one stock; we know not to put all our eggs in one basket. In the same way, maintaining a wide social circle means we get to share a range of experiences with a diverse network. An expansive group of friends is also insurance for an uncertain future. Divorce, illness and changes in employment can all dramatically alter our financial landscape and at the same time can shift our friendships. Any good planner would advise diversifying your portfolio to weather a "crash."
Mixolo leverages technology to help you build and expand IRL communities. Just going out and having fun with people you haven't met yet–but who share your interests–is an easy way to enlarge your community–and your heart. Go ahead and start a conversation. It doesn’t need to “go there.” Instead focus on what’s in front of you. Focus on what unites you. Save divisions for yelling at the TV.
No more opting out of things you want to do when your friends and family circle aren't interested. At Mixolo, we are building an IRL (in real life) social network for solo adults, regardless of relationship status, who want to step out on their own and would like to enjoy events and experiences with other people who share their interests. We're the going out app! No plus-one required.
In our beta stage, we're curating solo-friendly events and experiences in the Baltimore/Washington region. Membership is free. Find out more and get on our list as an early adopter member or event host at www.mixolo.io. The Mixolo app is now on Apple iTunes and Google Play. Not in the Baltimore/Washington area? Get in the app and "hurry up and wait." Help us build our network of ready-to-go-out-solos so that we can attract hosts in your area.