Only at employment did older folks meet new individuals. However, without offices, Gen Z would have a more difficult time making acquaintances.
Nayomi Mbunga had always wanted to live in a major city, so she was overjoyed when she obtained a tech job in Toronto. The 24-year-old woman grew up in Ireland and claimed she wanted to meet individuals from various walks of life. Yet it was difficult for her when she began her employment in January 2022 because Covid-19 instances required her to work from home and be alone for the first several months.
Mbunga liked her coworkers, but getting to know them was difficult because they only met in person many months after she started. She liked her roommate, whom she knew from home, but she wanted to meet new people.
She had no idea how she was going to make friends. Mbunga didn’t play sports and thought it was “creepy” to reach out to strangers on Instagram who looked cool. So, she could only meet potential friends at work and home. So, even though she was very social, she felt out of practice building relationships.
As a new worker, making friends is important, especially if you have just relocated to a new city and don’t know anyone there. These friends help people through tough times at work and in their personal lives. Sometimes, they become friends for life. But making new friends as an adult is hard enough on its own, and especially for Gen Z, the barriers have never been higher. Of course, work has always been a good place to meet new people, but many of these young people have yet to have the chance to do so as companies switch to hybrid, distributed, or remote work models.
Experts say that after a couple of lonely years during the pandemic, people’s social circles have shrunk, and in some cases, they never formed. This means that some teens are trying new ways to make friends. Especially Gen Z, which grew up with social media, is now using new platforms to connect with people in a way that previous generations didn’t. So put, young workers are developing more unique ways to meet new people.
In April 2022, Chloe Bow, a former government worker who now makes content, posted a TikTok video in which she talked honestly about friendships. Mbunga found this video and watched it. Bow was planning events for a new group she was starting called Toronto Girl Social. Despite being nervous, Mbunga followed her lead and signed up for an upcoming movie night.
“Our friends show us who we are.”
Covid-19 made it possible for people in Gen Z to make friends in a way that had never been done before. Younger Gen Zers who were still in school during the pandemic lockdowns were forced to be alone and miss school. Older members of Gen Z who just started working were also cut off from new coworkers they would have met in normal circumstances.
Research shows how much the pandemic has hurt Gen Z’s ability to connect with others. Janice McCabe, an associate professor of sociology at Dartmouth College in the US, studies how networks of friends help people do well. In 2016, she started talking to students at three universities in New Hampshire, US, to find out how their early friendships affected their lives as adults. After she finished her second round of interviews with her participants in 2021, when they started working, she saw how the pandemic had hurt their ability to keep friends and make new ones.
Gen Z trying new ways to make friends
Gen Zers are very aware of what is going on. As a result, people have been thinking a lot about their small social networks and are coming up with new ways to make the kinds of friends that older people make more easily in places like offices.
Even though many Gen Zers are open to these ways of making connections, not all of them find them useful. So some people have made their apps or online hubs to help them meet new people in a hard social setting.
During the 2020 school year, Jamie Lee, a Columbia University student in New York City who was studying from home, was looking for ways to connect with her peers online in a real way. That summer, she released the beta version of what would become her app, Flox, where groups of friends could sign up together to meet other groups of friends. Lee told the technology news site TechCrunch that this seemed like a more real way for Gen Z to make friends since people tend to be more real around the friends they already have. Meeting new people in a group would let them be themselves and relieve some of the stress of making new friends.
Chuinkam also says that Gen Z is uniquely positioned to move away from that “hub” because they are used to meeting new people online and can work remotely and visit their friends instead of making them come to them. Yes, they may be having a hard time because of the pandemic, but they are the best people to grow them in a world that has changed.