Why a new Golden Age for your social life is dawning

You can’t possibly appreciate something as fundamental as friendship until it’s swiped out from under you. Now, new research by fethr suggests that we’ll never take it for granted again. The return to socialising after COVID-19 will mark the start of a new Golden Age for our social lives. From now on, we’ll be looking to squeeze every last drop of fun from our free time.

Previously, many regarded their social lives as background. The main events were related to career, education, romance. Friendship was an enjoyable way to let off steam after other priorities were taken care of.

Only when COVID-19 locked us all away in lonely individual houses did we begin to realise the value of pints on a Friday night, a walk and a DMC with a close friend, banter shared with mates at work.

Here at fethr, we were curious to know exactly how this once-in-a-generation change in behaviour would affect opinions on friendship. When we asked respondents how COVID-19 had affected their social lives, it was clear that time spent reflecting on friendships, remembering good times, has brought a new and profound appreciation for social connection.

Over half of our respondents felt positive or very positive about socialising now compared to before the pandemic. Even more striking, 42% of the Londoners we polled said they want to meet people more frequently now than before COVID-19. And this shift in attitude arrives hand in hand with a rapidly advancing friend-finding tech space ready to satiate this hunger.

Taking fethr as an example, it’s clear that excuses about staying in because you've nobody to go with will soon be ancient history. Even when all your friends are busy, or you’ve moved somewhere where you know nobody, fethr’s AI-fuelled algorithm harnesses network effects to match you with the most compatible group of strangers nearby. You’ll be meeting people who complement your personality and share your interests in a fraction of the time taken previously.

Simply put, people want to live life to the fullest after the pandemic, and the perfect tech solutions are arriving at just the right time. We found that people are keener than ever to get out of their comfort zones and try new things: our research revealed that 2/3 of people want to try new activities after COVID-19. Even more significant, over 80% of Londoners surveyed wanted to try new social activities. With old habits purged by the pandemic, people are more open minded than ever before. You can expect, then, that the worst ever year for socialising will be followed by an unparalleled, gilded age of friendship.

The original golden age for friendship came during classical Greek antiquity. Rules of friendship governed every sphere of life, from politics to hospitality to war. Aristotle viewed friendship as a highest good. Famously, he described a virtuous friend as a ‘second self’, regarding the reciprocal consideration of the other as the best way to understand your own existence – and live the best life possible.

And yet, friendship was almost exclusively the domain of men. Women, the lower classes, great swathes of society were excluded. In the present day, meanwhile, friendship is a universal human right, and the most inclusive of relationships. Apps like fethr, matching strangers based solely on their personality and interests, break down barriers between races, genders and sexes still further. Combine this modern inclusivity with the Aristotelian belief that friendship is an end in itself - a trend that our research sees emerging post-pandemic - and we’ll be in for a hell of a decade.