I’m writing this post from Jonathan Hillis Creator Cabin soft launch in Johnson City, TX. I’m spending the week with 8 people I have never met in real life (only online writing groups) before now.
While not complete strangers, they are what Mark Granovetter would refer to as “weak ties” aka acquaintances.
Most of what you read online regarding relationships encourages strengthening the bonds of people that will likely cry at your funeral. Your parents, your spouse, your best friends. It sounds right to me. I’m not saying don’t do that.
I’d also like to propose that the key to having a happier, more progressive life is creating more weak ties.
When I think about depression as it relates to growing older, I think a large part of it is due to stagnation. The lack of activity, growth, or development comes from settling into a routine for too long. I notice it a lot in my hometown from some who never left or became more insular once they had a family.
When we’re younger, the ability to constantly be introduced to mass amounts of new people happens constantly. You’re randomly dropped into different classes of peers from all over every few weeks and forced to interact with them. This continues early into our careers as we usually hop around jobs every 1-3 years.
Almost all of my major personal life changes have been attributed to weak ties.
My sister’s friend reached out to me about a job opportunity in NYC for a small start-up that would change my entire life. My entire career, new home, and a relationship were formed there. A chance encounter with someone who took me to a martial arts class would inform the next 5 years of how I think about discipline and fitness. A writing group of strangers I met online was directly responsible for forcing me to launch NooWave.
I think weak ties are responsible for making people more tolerant, open-minded and keeping your mind generally healthier. When you’re surrounded by new ideas, opinions, and energy you’re only going to feel more fulfilled.
I personally have used the three hobbies rule to find my weak ties. It’s said you want three hobbies. One that makes you rich, one that makes you fit, and one that makes you creative. It’s much easier and more fun when you have others around you who want the same.
I hope reading this inspires you to go seek out some more weak ties if you’re on the older side. It can fundamentally change the course of your life for the better.