(2018-06-07) Welcome To The Appification Of Friendship

Welcome to the app-i-fication of friendship

MealTribes, a D.C.-based startup that brings a group of strangers together for a potluck meal.

The MealTribes team matches diners up in groups according to age, then allows the groups to figure out who will host a given meal and what everyone will bring. Homemade contributions are encouraged, but store-bought food is acceptable

MealTribes is capitalizing on something else, too: the so-called “loneliness epidemic” we’re all supposedly experiencing as urban millennials.

Gold would later describe to me as a more “authentic” way of connecting.

To my surprise, all of my fellow diners seemed well-versed in the art of meeting people and going on random adventures through apps (SoFar Sounds, which curates intimate concert experiences in small, homey venues for select groups, seemed to be favorite)

By way of an explanation, Gold pointed to the rise of social media and the decline of community centers and religious institutions at the heart of a neighborhood’s social fabric. He said that while he’s always had plenty of friends and acquaintances, he often finds that in day-to-day life, “people aren’t really representing themselves authentically.” (Bowling Alone)

Then there’s the crunchy “authentic relating movement,” a system of touchy-feely get-to-know-you-deeply techniques, born out of 1990s San Francisco, which The Atlantic recently dubbed “The Club Where you Bare Your Soul to Strangers.”

Marc Dunkelman, a social science researcher at the Watson Institute at Brown University. His 2014 book, The Vanishing Neighbor, explores the ways our communities and neighborhoods have become fragmented, divided, and, well, less friendly over time.


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