Chicago — Over a third of Americans aged 18 to 25 have reported loneliness more than any other demographic in a survey conducted by Harvard Graduate School of Education. That loneliness has sent young people on an aggressive search for connection, with some spending thousands on gym memberships and social clubs, in hopes of making friends.
That’s what Lynette Ban did. After working remotely for three years and moving from New York to Austin, Texas, she spent at least $500 a month on various memberships and events aimed at making friends or expanding her network, Business Insider reported.
"I started prioritizing, post-pandemic, more of these clubs and joining these organizations where I can meet new people and build a network that way," said Ban.
William Cabell spends $70 a month for rock-climbing and $161 at a jiu jitsu gym in Virginia — both of which allow him to meet new people.
"In order to make friends, you need regularity, and I have found that an investment stake is a good way to elicit that from both myself and others," he said. "If you pay for something, you'll show up to it."
Some Gen Z have turned to outlets like art studios, pilates classes, vacations and Soho House — a club aimed at members in the arts and media — to find friends. Other networking options have come at a cheaper price tag.
Lillian Lema made connections through Bumble BFF, which paved the way for a Sunday in August filled with eating and enjoying music on Peaks Island in Maine.
"To look back at where I was a year ago and to where I am now, the fact that I'm still in contact with this person I met through an app a year ago, then I'm introducing her to new people and she's introducing me to new people — it just felt very like a beautiful scene," she said.
Running and biking has helped Margaux Duvall bond with others.
"If you just take the leap and go find something to do, you'll end up making some friends," the Ohio native said. "Odds are there's probably hundreds of other people that are in a similar position to you that are also looking for friends."
Noah Johnson (he/him/his) is a Chicago-based journalist. Follow him on X: @noahwritestoo.
Edited by NaTyshca Pickett