There has never been a more unrealistic show on television than Friends. The fantasy it sells its audience on—that six people in their 20s can get together regularly without any sort of apparent planning—is a bald-faced lie.
Can you imagine the group texts, the email chains, the interlocking commitments, the sheer complexity of organizing a six-person gathering at a coffee shop? If it wanted to make any effort at realism, Friends should have been a show about six people calling each other, leaving messages, and making excuses so they could stay in their apartments and watch TV.
Last week, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics released the American Time Use Survey, an annual look at how people spend the precious minutes of their short lives. Mostly, people sleep (almost nine hours a day on average), work (just under eight hours on days they work), and watch TV (a bit under three hours). A scant 41 minutes of each average day are spent socializing in person with other humans, a number that’s fallen by 9 percent over the past decade. Does this mean that society is falling further away from the everyone-kicking-it-all-the-time paradise of Friends? Or that we’re talking to people online rather than in person now?
Maybe something darker is at play here: Maybe Americans aren’t hanging out because we’re all hiding in our apartments and inventing elaborate lies about why we can’t come out.
That’s the conclusion of a recent study by something called Yelp Eat24, which I guess is like Seamless but run by Yelp? Regardless, I have no reason not to trust a home food delivery service when it sends out a press release about how people prefer to stay at home, so let’s take them at their word when they say, “It may be that FOMO—the Fear of Missing Out—has run its course, as a new survey identifies the power of POMO… the PLEASURE Of Missing Out.”
According to the study, almost 30 percent of people are disappointed by nights out, more than a third are stressed out and anxious by them, and hangovers and arguments are also common side effects. So it’s no surprise 80 percent of people “admit to having made excuses to avoid going out,” a.k.a. lying to your friends so you don’t have to see them.
SOURCE: Harry Cheadle