Thursday, November 7, 2019

Where Have All the Girlfriends Gone?

time for friends
A  night out with friends sounds great, in theory.  But is it possible?
The gig economy--Uber, Lyft, Postmates--poses upheaval to traditional work and leisure time.  
A few weeks ago I wanted to mail my friend a package.  I'd been to a party at her place the year before, and knew her address was somewhere.  So I scoured our correspondence on e-mail, WhatsApp, text message, FaceBook & Meetup and eventually found it.  

Reading back through all of that (a lot of messaging channels, for sure!), I was surprised at the number of times I'd written, “I think I can hang out this weekend but I'll have to let you know at the last minute because I might be working that night.”

What a pain I must have been, I awed.  Why did she even put up with me?

I'm Not Alone

I recently came across the article, “Why You Never See Your Friends Anymore” from Atlantic.

For a variety of reasons, an inability to spend leisure time with friends and family is symptomatic of modern society.

Here is what author Judith Shulevitz has to say: 
The hours in which we work, rest, and socialize are becoming ever more desynchronized. Whereas we once shared the same temporal rhythms—five days on, two days off, federal holidays, thank-God-it’s-Fridays—our weeks are now shaped by the unpredictable dictates of our employers. Nearly a fifth of Americans hold jobs with nonstandard or variable hours. They may work seasonally, on rotating shifts, or in the gig economy driving for Uber or delivering for Postmates. Meanwhile, more people on the upper end of the pay scale are working long hours. Combine the people who have unpredictable workweeks with those who have prolonged ones, and you get a good third of the American labor force. 

Where Have All the Girlfriends Gone?

Time With Friends
I love brunching with friends.  But God help anyone who tries to organize a Saturday morning brunch, given our erratic work schedules.
Brunching with friends on the weekend, happy hours on a Friday night, chilling with a friend on Saturday over coffee, then shopping, then seeing a movie....I love doing these things. 

But it can feel like sweating blood to put something together. 

I notice a LOT of my interaction with friends isn't IRL anymore: it's via messenger apps.

What's your experience? 

How often have you used the reason “I have to work” for not seeing friends or family during what's traditionally seen as time off (weekday evenings and weekends)? 

Have you ever been unable to commit to something because you weren't sure if you'd have to work? 

Or have you lost friends to the gig economy--you or they work such odd hours that you never see each other anymore? 

Opting Out

Can we simply opt out of busyness and erratic schedules?  Perhaps.  It's not uncommon for people to remove email or messenger apps from their phone so that they're not always on call.

It's not so simple as that, however.  Even if you can simplify your own schedule, can your friends and family?  And some businesses (cough, cough Amazon) actually require employees to be on call for sporadic weekend shifts. 

It is a conundrum.  --And not being able to spend time with close friends and family has a huge impact on the strength of community in our lives.  

Do haphazard schedules prevent you from spending IRL time with family and friends?  If so, do you see any solutions?


  1. So true! I've used the "work" excuse to get out of things before, but it usually only comes into play when people try to actually call me on the phone (just text me - I HATE phone calls! - in case they're reading this) at 5:30 pm and I'm still at work or they want to grab lunch at 12:30 on a Tuesday. I have normal work hours and have turned down jobs that would require me to work non-standard hours but I have run into issues before with friends (or maybe they were using it as an excuse to get out of doing something). We usually come up with a few days that will work for both of us and then pick one. Then you just have to plan well enough in advance and take that time off. It's definitely a conundrum, Julie!


    1. Ha, yeah, who really has phone calls anymore?
      I know, non-standard work hours are a pain, definitely a huge consideration when job hunting.

  2. I'm the type of person who makes the rare appearances. I feel like I should go out more but I am so exhausted from work and everything @__@. Though, it can be harder when there are friends with completely different working hours as well. I always wanted to have a group of friends to hang with. I've been on apps to find a girlgang. One day :).

    Nancy ♥

    1. Yeah, back in school daze it was easier to have a group of friends bc everyone was in the same place! And on roughly the same schedule.
      I agree, the grind of work and daily life can rob us of all our "spoons"; oftentimes I don't want to socialize in the evenings, either.


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