Author Topic: The state of American friendship: Change, challenges, and loss  (Read 129 times)

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Offline Ptarmigan

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The state of American friendship: Change, challenges, and loss

Coming out of a once-in-a-generation global pandemic, Americans appear more attuned than ever to the importance of friendship. However, despite renewed interest in the topic of friendship in popular culture and the news media, signs suggest that the role of friends in American social life is experiencing a pronounced decline. The May 2021 American Perspectives Survey finds that Americans report having fewer close friendships than they once did, talking to their friends less often, and relying less on their friends for personal support.

The COVID-19 pandemic is the most obvious culprit in the national friendship decline, but broader structural forces may be playing a more important role. First, Americans are marrying later than ever and are more geographically mobile than in the past—two trends that are strongly associated with increasing rates of self-reported social isolation and feelings of loneliness.[1] Second, American parents are spending twice as much time with their children compared to previous generations, crowding out other types of relationships, including friendships.[2] Finally, Americans are working longer hours and traveling more for work, which may come at the cost of maintaining and developing friendships.[3] In fact, perhaps reflecting its central place in the hierarchy of American social life, Americans are now more likely to make friends at work than any other way—including at school, in their neighborhood, at their place of worship, or even through existing friends.

But the news is not universally negative. The survey paints a more complex and perhaps more fluid picture of American friendships. Roughly half of Americans report having lost touch with at least one friend during the pandemic. But, surprisingly, nearly as many Americans report having made a new friend over this same period. Many Americans report having activity friendships or situational friends—people they see at certain times or places—and most Americans have a best friend, even if it’s fewer than in the past.

It has a political section.

Friendship and Politics
Few Americans report that they regularly discuss politics or government with their friends. About only one in five (21 percent) Americans say they discuss political issues at least a few times a week. About one in four (24 percent) say they talk with friends about politics a few times a month. More than half (55 percent) the public report that they talk about politics with their friends less often. Notably, Democrats and Republicans[8] are not any more likely to discuss politics with their friends than the public overall is.

For most Americans, political affiliation is probably not a prerequisite for forming a friendship, but both Democrats and Republicans are far more likely to have friends who belong to their preferred party. About eight in 10 (82 percent) Democrats and Republicans (80 percent) say they have at least some friends who share the same political identity. Importantly, Republicans have more bipartisan friendships than Democrats do. A majority (53 percent) of Republicans say they have at least some friends who are Democrats. In contrast, less than one-third (32 percent) of Democrats say they have at least some Republican friends.

Losing a Friend over Politics
Although political disagreements are common, few Americans report having stopped talking to or being friends with someone because of their views about government or politics. Only 15 percent of the public have ended a friendship over politics.

Ending friendships over political disagreements occurs more among liberal and Democratic-leaning Americans. Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans are to report having ended a friendship over a political disagreement (20 percent vs. 10 percent). Political liberals are also far more likely than conservatives are to say they are no longer friends with someone due to political differences (28 percent vs. 10 percent, respectively). No group is more likely to end a friendship over politics than liberal women are; 33 percent say they stopped being friends with someone because of their politics.

The reasons Americans give for dropping a friendship are varied, but President Donald Trump loomed large. A White college-educated man said: “I can’t deal with crazy people who worship Donald Trump.” A Hispanic woman offers a similarly blunt explanation: “If they were a fan of DJT, I wanted nothing to do with them.” But many Trump supporters were equally willing to walk away from friends whose views of the former president did not align with their own. “I have unfriended people online and stopped talking to people who didn’t respect our great President Trump.” In all, 22 percent of Americans who have ended a friendship cited Trump as the reason.

Leftists are more likely to end friendship over politics. Not surprised.
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Offline Zathras

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Re: The state of American friendship: Change, challenges, and loss
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2021, 09:48:13 PM »
Anyone who has a friend/family member cancel a relationship with them because of different political beliefs are better off without such a toxic person in their lives.
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Offline Drafe Hoblin

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Re: The state of American friendship: Change, challenges, and loss
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2021, 09:50:57 AM »
As for politics, it all boils-down to the semantics of disagreeing.

People generally have spring-loaded gripes, quips, comebacks to use in conversations.  I can't think of any winding lectures that seem to pre-planned venting strategies during interactions with lib friends. 

-Have an issue with orange-juice, lecture me about Florida.  I haven't had any of those type of situations recently.

But if they voice a complaint about crime, or gas-prices...  inflation, or long lines...  I'm there with a torpedo.