TED Conversations

Lisa Cook

President and Founder, Plan B Connections

This conversation is closed.

How do you build offline meaningful social connections?

There are many life transitions which trigger the necessity to make new friends- a geographic move, retirement, new job, divorce, etc. How does one establish meaningful friendships - relationships where you both are able to talk about what's really happening in your life rather than Facebook-type status updates?

The US and other nations are seeing an increase in the numbers of people living alone and studies are showing increased loneliness in society as a whole- it affects people regardless of age and marital status. For all those seeking meaningful social connections and stronger social ties, this is an important question. I think building social capital is very important. What is the glue that makes for meaningful social connections?


Closing Statement from Lisa Cook

I was fortunate to have the chance to share my story at TEDxMahtomedi!

Hope you'll watch my talk and share your ideas on making meaningful connections. Let's keep the conversation going!


Lisa Cook

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Mar 1 2013: All,
    I've been enjoying reading your wonderful comments and ideas - great food for thought! Thank you!

    What role do you think chemistry and openness play in developing meaningful social connections?

    There are people we meet with whom we have an instant rapport - the conversation flows very easily - and there are people we can know for years with whom that flow never develops, though we might have similar interests.

    I grew up and lived most of my life in a city where it was easier to meet people with whom I clicked. Social circles were fluid - both natives and transplants were open to meeting new people because the area had a very high percentage of people moving into and out of the area. For example, my high school friends and I all left for college and none of us live there anymore. 

    Now I live in the upper Midwest where I find it more challenging to make close friends. Most people (70% according to Pew Research) are natives. It seems most have lived here their whole lives and their social circles go back to grade school. Transplants like myself find that most natives aren't actively seeking new connections because their social "dance cards" are already filled. :)

    Transplants here typically find that their closest friends are other transplants - perhaps that's the best strategy. We have an actively growing Transplants Meetup group with 1300 members - a great start.

    So I'm interjecting two factors into our thread: 1) chemistry and 2) openness and availability to making new (offline) social connections. Any thoughts?
    • Mar 7 2013: While improvement in technology has made it incredibly easy for us to "connect" with people, I think it's subconsciously suppressing our inherent need to build a network of people around us who are like-minded and share our interests. To answer your second question, the inertia of making new friends is huge so, even if people are lonely, they prefer a "social" life vicariously (through FB, online chat groups, etc.). If they can get over that little hump and go out once to do some activity with the locals (not drinking or dining necessarily) they'd start to realize how much better it is to make real life friendships.

      I think the answer to your first question, about Chemistry, is a bit more difficult. We often confuse chemistry with what we want to think. So, if I attend a bbq with the neighbors who are supposedly "cool", I might think I like bbq'ing and want to do it again when in fact I'd rather do something else (we do this because we so desperately want to "belong"). FB, Online chat groups give us that illusion and we can't seem to break ourselves free.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.