The stories people save to Pocket reveal something unique—not only about what’s occupying our collective attention, but also about what we aspire to be. This year, our data showed a few key themes, including a renewed focus on deepening friendships and connections.
This was simply not a passing interest in reconnecting IRL after a few years of pandemic solitude. Interest in friendship was evident across Pocket’s most popular pieces, like The Grown-Up’s Guide to Making and Keeping Friends, our top collection of 2022, and The Trait That ‘Super Friends’ Have in Common, one of our top stories of the year. So we asked Dr. Marisa G Franco—the New York Times bestselling author of Platonic: How The Science of Attachment Can Help You Make—and Keep—Friends—to lead us through some of the best writing on friendship that the internet has to offer, from urban planning’s effects on connection to exercises for your “social muscles.” – Pocket team
I love friendship. I love it because it is flexible; friends can be mere acquaintances or life partners. I love friends for the way they act as time capsules for who we were, inviting past selves we only access in their company. I love friends because we choose them—not because of blood or legal commitment, but because they trigger feelings of joy and safety. This reverence for friendship is what led me to write Platonic: How The Science of Attachment Can Help You Make—and Keep—Friends, to use my Counseling Psychology Ph.D. to study connection, to teach about loneliness at The University of Maryland, and to speak on connection within and outside of work.
It’s gratifying to see such excitement around friendship this year—it’s certainly not a new topic, nor is it as marketable as romantic love (speaking of: where are our Hallmark holiday movies about friendship?) But a deep interest in reading and learning about real friendships, like what you’ve seen from Pocket readers this year, is more than a feel-good trend.
We don’t always recognize loneliness for the social ill that it is, but lonely people live much shorter lifespans. Their mental health is much worse. They’re more hostile and aggressive and even violent. They’re more prejudiced. And they’re even more likely to mistrust social institutions, like the government. This isn’t to stigmatize loneliness because, according to some data, most of us are lonely. But we need to acknowledge that a healthy society requires that people’s fundamental social need to connect is fulfilled.
Embedded in the DNA of being human is being inherently social. We can try to suppress this need with these proclamations of individualism, wherein we think we don't need anyone, but the cost of that is grave. Each and every one of us needs connection and it’s time for us to lean into that. I hope that my book, and these reads below, can help us all lean into that need for connection and the actions we can all take towards a less lonely world. –Dr. Marisa G Franco