Nobody knows how to hang out anymore and that makes us miserable.

  • Social isolation was on the rise even before the pandemic, but it has skyrocketed in recent years.
  • In “Hanging Out,” author Sheila Liming explores how people can reap the benefits of socializing.
  • Liming spoke to Insider about the book and his favorite ways to hang out in an interview this month.

Nobody hangs out anymore, at least not like we used to. we are eternally tied to our phonesour televisions, our computers, our desks — all of which increasingly exist within the same four waterfalls where we eat, sleep, and relax every day, often completely alone.

Even before the pandemic, social isolation was increasing. The fast pace of modern life coupled with exponential technological advancement propelled the US Surgeon General. vivek murthy to declare a loneliness epidemic” in April 2020.

Then came COVID-19 and exacerbated our social state of shared loneliness. It is this ongoing crisis that the author sheila whitewashed explores in his new book, “Hanging Out: The Radical Power of Killing Time”, a work that examines how and why we lost the art of hanging (hint: it’s not all the fault of COVID), and that proposes solutions to help people recover those lost connections.

Hanging out, according to Liming, is unstructured or lightly structured time spent in the company of friends, strangers, or acquaintances. Though it’s a simple concept, hanging out is essential to our existence, Liming argues, providing the space to seek intimacy, connection, and peace with other people.

As our world becomes more insular and irritable, Liming suggests that hanging out is an action we can—and should—prioritize, even if it means getting off the couch and opening up to discomfort.

What happened to hanging out?

It would be easy to blame the community crisis on COVID-19, an era-defining pandemic that has radically altered social interactions and norms around the world.

But Liming argues throughout his book that the pandemic was not so much a cause, but a catalyst, of our already changing relationship with hanging out. The idea for the book came to her in 2019, she told Insider, before the coronavirus. But the pandemic put those musings into overdrive.

“I had been thinking about parties, and I had been thinking about adult social structures, and I had been thinking about the ways that we get together with friends in informal settings,” Liming said in an interview this month. “Then all of a sudden we didn’t have any of those.”

Covid essentially helped “transfer most of our social energies to the internet,” Liming writes. Our reliance on technology had already reduced in-person socializing; the pandemic just sealed the deal.

But the virtual world simply can’t offer the same level of intimacy as an in-person meeting place, Liming argues.

A photo of the book cover "hanging out" placed next to a copyright photo of Sheila Liming.

Melville House Publishing published “Hanging Out: The Radical Power of Killing Time” earlier this year.

Courtesy of Melville House Publishing

goodbye to work friends

The pandemic also struck a death knell at the traditional workplace, though society’s relationship with our jobs was changing long before covid. Regardless of what ultimately caused the workplace disaster, socializing has suffered as a result.

The workplace is often where we begin to bond in a new place, Liming said. Hanging out requires certain commonalities between participants, Liming told Insider, including space and hours, which is why the standard nine-to-five in-person work model was once so conducive to friendships and places. informal meeting.

However, the proliferation of remote work has since eliminated the opportunity for shared spaces, while hybrid work has seemingly killed off the concept of shared hours.

“Now, even when we go to work, there are no other people there, and we don’t have the same kind of experience of killing time with the water cooler or coffee pot,” Liming said.

The pandemic has also been blamed for eradicating “third spaces,” communal places that are neither the workplace nor the home, where people can meet and socialize, such as churches, clubs, libraries, gyms, bookstores, and parks, according to Liming. Third places allow a person to “exist in public without having to claim the right to exist in public through some kind of productive activity or commerce,” she told Insider, making them prime places for impromptu socializing.

However, the decline of third-party spaces has been on a steady rise since the early 2000s, becoming even more pronounced following the advent of smartphones, according to Liming.

“A lot of our life started to take place in these virtual public spaces instead of physical public spaces,” he said.

Hanging out in this day and age takes a lot of work

In her book, Liming offers gentle suggestions to help readers begin to search for shared joy.

1. Not all hangouts are the same

Amid the tumult of the pandemic, Liming said he began to notice growing anxiety among his compatriots about the holidays.

“We think of the holidays as occasions for celebration. However, I find that easily half the people I know view the holidays with some trepidation,” Liming said. “I was interested in that. Why do we do these things if we don’t like doing them?”

Some types of meeting places were more conducive to achieving the benefits of socializing than others, he said.

“I think it’s hard to have a really rewarding experience when you’re in a really huge group, because inevitably what you do is look for smaller group settings,” Liming said.

For maximum benefits: Keep your hangout space small, Liming advised, especially as we all become reacquainted with group socializing.

A group of friends hang out outside.

Sheila Liming’s “Hanging Out” examines how and why we as a society have lost the art of hanging out and proposes solutions to help people regain those lost connections.

fake images

2. Find a niche of interest

Liming herself plays the bagpipes and devotes one of the book’s chapters to “jamming,” recounting her years playing with different groups of friends and comparing the improvisational element of making music to the spontaneity present in social settings.

Her mastery of the unique instrument helped her put down roots at various times in life, including a recent move cross-country, she said.

“What I usually do when I move to a place is find out who plays the bagpipes in that place,” he told Insider. “If they want to get involved in this, they have to find each other. That’s the only way it works.”

Hobbies, passion projects, and reliably scheduled meetings or meetings are all gateways to hanging out, Liming said.

3. Take a chance and remove your headphones

We can plan, prepare and worry until we’re exhausted, but sometimes the human connection comes out when we least expect it, Liming said. She suggests that readers mentally and physically take advantage of opportunities for socialization and chance encounters, like the ones likely to evade the headphone-wearing hiker or the human living at home.

“We run the risk of becoming uncomfortable when we enter situations that lack parameters or predictable outcomes,” Liming writes. “But to the extent that discomfort is linked to its inverse, to comfort, because we can’t know and define one sensation without having some experience of the other, hanging out can be a way of keeping the two in balance, of force a person to constantly confront and take into account each other’s definitions”.

4. Be an active participant in keeping your venue healthy

It may seem simple, but it is perhaps Liming’s most important reminder: cultivating meaningful relationships and experiences requires active participation, effort, determination, resilience, and care.

“Hanging out requires repeated effort and application of one’s social skills. That can be exhausting, sure…” Liming writes. “But as with all things, the first attempt is the hardest and after that, the momentum can be counted on to carry an increasing proportion of the weight of what follows.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *