View part 1 of this podcast series here
Hey, so in my last part to this podcast series, I opened up about how lonely it feels to be an entrepreneur and anyone who’s ever been there and done that knows how it feels. I’ve blamed increased commercialism for slowly eroding the sense of community in our startup culture. This new belief of maximising profits in an ecosystem, trying to create patterns out of something spontaneous like entrepreneurship. It’s like how big movie studios try to create movie franchises that feel hollow and empty, like the 14th edition of the Pirates of the Caribbean.
Only a few promising startups are pounced upon by about 3 big funds, some coworking spaces feel like a themed fast food restaurant, and it feels unnatural, like a factory. Isolating technologies are also to blame, like smartphones and social media. While really great innovations, I feel they are driving huge declines in real social interactions between adults, and more worryingly, between young people who never knew society before social media. In the dark, pre-Facebook ages, it was common to see the same group of friends meeting each other every single day to hang out. This is independent of age; I’ve seen separate groups of teens and groups of fortysomethings turn up to the same place at the same time every day to share this bonding time with friends.
This is the type of communal bonding that is necessary I feel to create happy partnerships, and to a deeper level is necessary to your human condition, but it is being eroded by individualism. People seem to be content with coming home from the office and vegetating in front of the sofa for the evening instead of meeting with friends. Or even if people actively go outside and do things, there’s a lot of focus on individual stuff, such as going to the gym with headphones in and ignoring everybody, or going to a yoga class where people might utter one or two words, do the class, and leave. It’s kinda sad. People don’t see the point. They don’t see the worth in it.
It’s like people acquire their material possessions and think, “fuck it, I don’t need you except when I feel reeeeeally alone, at which point we’ll go get drunk in a bar and go insane due to lack of bonding with friends”. It’s kind of sad when I go to clubs, a place that’s built upon the function of being a social watering hole, and everyone’s still on their phones. Ok, I get it if you’re a cute girl, cause you gotta look like your busy, but what’s everyone else’s excuse.
Going back to startups, I’ve observed that community before social media, when it existed because it was founded as an oasis for the rejects, the outcasts, or dropouts. I always felt like an outsider, and finally, I had found a place to call home. The thing these people and I had in common is that the ‘rat race’ had rejected us, and as such we NEEDED each other to survive.
I sometimes feel so lost and alone in this world. I don’t want to blame this new startup culture on commercialism, social media or individualism but I think it has a huge part to play in the loneliness epidemic that is currently wreaking havoc on young people, including me.
I just wish life was simpler in this regard. I wish I could find a place where the community is everything, but I don’t think I’ll ever find that when even neighbours find it weird if I say hi.
I feel like the meaning of life should arise from our interactions with other people, especially those closest to us. Flirting, Laughing, sharing jokes, cooking food, playing games, Making life fun. These are things that were once the norm but have become the exception in my opinion. Feeling disenfranchised in your community is not a good thing. It brings an unnatural feeling to it all, do you know what I mean?
Here’s why I’m telling you this. We’re all underdogs and we all want to better ourselves. We want to create attractive prospects for our future and those prospects become better by carefully but diligently increasing your circle of friends. Sure, it’s tiring, and sometimes all I want is to just be alone. Sometimes there’s so much pressure that it feels good to be ignored, it feels blissful to be in your own space. Somedays it feels like every interaction can be a battle. But don’t wait to be invited to participate in your community and civic life. It’s your responsibility to seek it out and create it if it doesn’t exist.
I remember when I was in New York recently to be there for my nephew’s birth. I had a lot of free time so my sister-in-law suggested I check out volunteering. So I binge volunteered, like almost every second day I was out volunteering. Soup kitchens, I just love the commotion and the feeling of cooking and the feeling of serving it to people. There’s an instant gratification in feeding someone who’s hungry. That opened a new door in my life, where it activated a part of me I didn’t know existed. This feeling of doing something selflessly, and feeling good about it. Altruism. It’s now something I want to integrate in my daily life. I also met some amazing characters through that experience in New York. Mostly bored Jewish mothers, but a whole range of people my age who must have felt a similar feeling of emptiness in an overwhelmingly dense city.
You have to meet lots of people to find the right people, and try to add variety to the type of people you meet. You’ll start noticing trends of what you value in people and be able to spot them more easily. I’ve met maybe 2 or 3 of these “good people” in my entire life, currently only still have one in my life and we only met a few months ago.
The modern world is isolating, but you can make an effort to fix that in your own particular area. When I moved to Singapore to start Groupon, we knew we’d want the help and support of anyone as we embarked on this scary new entrepreneurship journey. We went door to door on the street, leaving a note asking for contact info. We continually emailed everyone and used this to keep informed of everyone’s information. It’s was like facebook, before Facebook could allow you to become socially lazy. You do have to make an effort, but if you’re feeling lonely, get to know your neighbour, don’t make yourself a stranger and you’ll feel safe knowing that your neighbour has your back.
Music (CC/Royalty Free)
“slumlord” by lo tag blanco
Regulate from Royalty Free Music | Hip Hop Beats Volume 2