I read an article in Maclean's Magazine recently that wonderfully articulated some things that I think are very important. The article, entitled "The End of Neighbours" suggests that while technology has made it possible to feel more connected than ever with people from all over the globe, we are increasingly making strangers of those in our own neighbourhoods. We have come to believe that the good or polite neighbour is the one who minds his or her business and keeps a healthy distance from us. In addition to this trend, the article reports that people's social circles outside of their immediate families, are shrinking and that over the past few decades, Canadians have been steadily less likely to vote, join community groups, or invite people over for dinner.
These trends pack some serious health consequences. According to an author quoted by the article, humans have evolved to need face-to-face contact to the extent that people surrounded by a tight-knit group of friends who "regularly gather to eat - and, crucially, gossip - live an average of 15 years longer than loners" and have a better prognoses for surviving various health ailments, including chronic disease and dementia. The article advocates for integrated social networks that include family, friends, and communities whether faith-based, athletic, or volunteer-based. Additionally, the article suggests that it is vital to have a network that transcends your romantic partner and includes "middle ring" relationships or relationships that require a little more effort to maintain.
I was inspired by reading this, particularly as a number of our closest friends have recently transitioned to new cities to undertake new adventures. It would be easy to use this as an excuse to spend my evenings off with my husband catching up on Netflix and taking turns making the popcorn. This is especially likely as I gear up for another year of law school and he to open a new storefront for his business. The "we're busy" excuse would be easier than ever to administer. However, with the message of this article in the back of my mind, I hope we will continue to balance our much-needed downtime with a healthy dose of social activity with friends new and old.
Anyone free for dinner this Saturday?