The Lonely 20’s: UPDATE

If you’ve been keeping up with The Lonely 20’s, you would have seen over the past couple of months I have been busy interviewing plenty of people about why people in their twenties are so lonely. I still have a few more interviews to write up which will be posted on here soon so keep an eye out.

In the meantime, I thought I would give you an update of what I have been up to. At the moment, I am currently editing together a short film, audio piece, written feature and some online content of all the people I have been chatting to on the subject.

These will uploaded onto The Lonely 20′s in January, but for now keep checking back for a sneak peak of a few more interviews!

Follow @TheLonely20s for more updates!

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An Interview With: Lucy Sheridan

The Lonely 20'sOn Friday, I headed to Brighton for the day to meet with Lucy Sheridan. Lucy is life coach for females helping them in all aspects of life, I wanted to talk to her about loneliness among young women as this seems to be the reason behind people using friend rental websites.

“Loneliness is a common problem among young women and that is clear through my work.  People have approached me on how they want to feel more connected. Loneliness and feeling like they can’t talk to people around them or they can’t find places to make friends is certainly something which I think is on the rise.”

I wanted to talk to Lucy about Rent a Friend and if she thought this type of friendship could ever be a good thing for people that feel isolated and lonely. It was refreshing to hear an expert say good things about the site and believe it can actually do some good.

“It is always good to invest in someone that you know is going to help you do that. Although on first listening people may be like “oh, that’s a bit weird”, people used to say that about internet dating and now we all have Tinder on our phones so I feel like we shouldn’t be too judgemental about that.”

I will now be editing the interview to put into a video package, which will be up on The Lonely 20’s towards the end of January. To keep up to date follow my Twitter @TheLonely20s.

An Interview with: Jonathan Alpert

This morning I had the pleasure of talking to Jonathan Alpert, a psychotherapist, columnist, executive coach, and author of “BE FEARLESS: Change Your Life In 28 Days”. I spoke to Jonathan about Rent a Friend and whether this service can actually offer true friendship. 

What are your thoughts on people renting people for their friendship?
“Rent a Friend is an oxymoron of sorts – a friendship is something which by it’s very nature is nurtured and grows over time. Some things in life should not be paid for, and a friendship is one such thing. I can’t imagine it feels very good to know that the “friendship” is actually a pseudo friendship because it is merely a service being purchased. The definition of a friendship has changed over the past several years with the rise of the social media culture. Nowadays its conceivable that a person can have hundreds, if not thousands of virtual friends and stay in that word, isolating him or herself. So, in that respect at least rent a friend gets someone out of the house and interacting with a real life human.”

How can this impact their relationship?
“Renting a friend does not represent a friendship based on trust and mutual interests – rather, it’s based on scheduling and paying. Without availability and payment, the so called friendship doesn’t exist. At some point the buyer of such services might realize that the friendship is limited and lacks depth.”

In what ways can people make friends naturally?
“One of the best way to make friends is by doing something you enjoy doing. It ensures having mutual interests. So for example, if you’re a runner, join a running club. If you’re into knitting, join a knitting club, etc. Further, get offline and get out there and interact with people in real life. That may be through your house of worship, with colleagues, classmates, etc.”

Why might someone feel that they need to hire someone for friendship?
“Someone who feels they don’t have options or venues to meet friends might turn to rent a friend. Also, someone who lacks confidence or requisite social skills to forge connections or friendships otherwise. And of course, loneliness.”

Do these types of websites exploit peoples loneliness?
“I’m sure loneliness is part of what drives people to seek out such services. Without that, business might not do so well.”

If you want to see more of Jonathan’s work then you can visit his website HERE.

An Interview With: Irene Levine (The Friendship Expert)

“Dramatic changes in the ways women live, work and communicate have made navigating the terrain of female friendships even more daunting.”

The Lonely 20'sIrene Levine, otherwise known as The Friendship Doctor is the creator and owner of The Friendship Blog – a bible for women who need some guidance on friendships. I was lucky enough to speak to Irene about female friendships and the psychology behind them. It was a very interesting interview to say the least and gave me a greater insight into the science behind friendships.

Irene acknowledges that people in their twenties do struggle to make new friends and has seen an increase in people leaving their hometowns for work, education and romance – leaving many people lonely.

“One of the biggest barriers is the misconception that everyone already has their friends. Nothing could be further from the truth, because friendships are so dynamic, people are always looking for new friendships”

Speaking of Rent a Friend, Irene believes these types of friendships are unequal and can only provide short-term companionship. She believes friendships should develop when people have shared interests and opportunities to see each other regularly (e.g. in school, gym class or at work).

“I prefer sites like Meetup.com because it brings people together over shared interests and allows people to meet someone that is in the same situation as them.”

Irene had plenty more to say on forming friendships in your twenties, to keep up to date with The Lonely 20’s as it develops follow @TheLonely20s on Twitter. If you think you can be of any help to this project please don’t hesitate to contact me on Twitter or at joanna.bowden14@gmail.com.

Click HERE to read an interview with Scott Rosenbaum, the creator of Rent a Friend.

An Interview With: Scott Rosenbaum

Rent a FriendDespite his busy schedule, I was fortunate enough to speak to Scott Rosenbaum, the creator of Rent a Friend. His idea came from the increasingly popular rent a friend services in Japan who were offering the service for single parent families who may need someone to step in at family events. Through research Scott realised he could adapt this idea and Rent a Friend was launched in 2009 in the US. Through popular demand Scott took Rent a Friend worldwide in 2010 and his service has been growing ever since. I wanted to ask Scott the reasons behind creating Rent a Friend and why he decided to launch this service as a new way to form friendships.

“After doing some research it became evident that there would be a market. There just seemed to be so many reasons why people would be interested in hiring a friend. It was more along the lines of there not being a way people can easily find platonic friends.”

Through talking to people that use this website to form friendships, I have discovered the people using Rent a Friend are often quite lonely or struggle to make friends in their day to day life. I questioned Scott on whether Rent a Friend could ever be exploiting peoples loneliness:

“Not at all. I never looked at Rent a Friend as a way to cure loneliness, it was more of a way for people to find other available people for companionship.”

Scott believes that human companionship is one of the most important parts of being human and hopes his website will continue to provide this for users of the website. The full interview will be available on the The Lonely 20’s shortly, but for now keep up to date with what else I have been up to @TheLonely20s.

Photo Credits: Rent a Friend 

The Lonely 20’s: The Facts

The Lonely 20'sAs part of my research into The Lonely 20’s I have been looking into some facts around why so many people have turned to Rent a Friend to find friendship. It turns out young people are lonelier than ever, here are just a few facts to prove it:

  • Office of National Statistics has said that London is the loneliest capital in Europe.
  • Over the past 40 years the number of one person households for people in their 20’s has shot up – with an increase in people moving around to find work.
  • 4/10 of us have felt depressed because we felt alone (47% of women compared to 36% of men). This is higher among those aged 18-34.
  • A quarter of us worry about feeling alone – this is more common between the ages of 18-34.
  • 1/3 of us feel embarrassed to admit we feel lonely – this is 42% of young people.
  • A little over 80,000 Brits use the website Rent a Friend to form friendships.
  • 2/5 of 25-30 year olds believe that their employers think putting work before friends and family means they are more productive.

Remember to follow me on Twitter @TheLonely20s for more updates!

What is Rent a Friend?

“RentAFriend.com has Friends from around the world available for hire.Rent a Friend to attend a social event, wedding, or party with you. Hire someone to introduce you to new people, or someone to go to a movie or a restaurant with. Hire a Friend to show you around a new town, teach you a new skill/hobby, or just someone for companionship.”

Rent a Friend

In short, Rent a Friend is a website where you can hire a friend (for a fee) to hang out with you. The website works by creating your own profile with a picture, a short description and the type of activities you enjoy. Members must pay £17 a month in UK to join the website and they are then free to contact anyone on the website to see if they want to meet up.

At the moment, a little over 80,000 Brits use this website to form friendships and it is mostly used by women in their 20’s – however members do vary from as young as 18 stretching up to people in their 60’s and 70’s.

Scott Rosenbaum set up the website in 2009 and it was originally only available in the US until he noticed a gap in the market for this type of service in other countries around the world. I will having a chat with Scott about his decision to set up the website so keep following this blog and @TheLonely20s for further updates!

Photo Credits: Rent a Friend

The Lonely 20’s

The Lonely 20'sLoneliness is a hot topic for the elderly – but what about the younger generation? The Lonely 20’s.

As nation we are centre of a loneliness epidemic and it seems it’s hitting 18-35 year olds the most. The Office of National Statistics has reported that London is the loneliest capital in Europe and as a capital we are less likely to have strong friendships and someone to rely on than anywhere else in the EU. Over the past 40 years the number of one person households for people in their 20’s has shot up with an increase in people moving around for work. Social isolation has unfortunately become the norm and we are lonelier than ever.

How are the younger generation solving this issue?

A little over 80,000 Brits have now taken to the website Rent a Friend to find friendship, this is a site that people can hire out a friend for a fee. The website is mostly used by females in their 20’s and the number of users is increasing by the day. The Lonely 20’s is a project that will be looking into this new way of making friends and why young people feel they have to seek friendship in this unconventional way.

In light of giving this project an honest look into Rent a Friend and why so many people are using it, I have decided to set up my own profile to have a greater understanding of what it is like to use it. I will also be talking to experts to get a better understanding of why our twenties have become so lonely so follow this blog to keep up to date with my progress. You can also follow my Twitter account @TheLonely20s for more details.