It seemed like quite a desperate call for help when I spotted that heading on a local neighborhood message board. I am not a frequent social media user, so when I checked the message was already about 9 hours old. I clicked on it to find that it further said: “I need someone to talk to about me and my family problems. Someone who can keep an open mind about my issues while listening. I have no friends to turn to; please can someone advise me on what to do?”
Sam (name changed), was obviously not doing very well, as it was clear in his call for help. But, it was a more desperate situation than usual as he said that he didn’t have any friends. However, this situation is more common than we think it is. According to YouGov, more than a quarter (28%) of Britons across all ages said they had no one they would call a best friend. 15% said they had no close friends. In the worst situation, ones without any friends at all, like Sam, were about 8%.
Men suffer more from this problem a little more than women. Also, the problem is exacerbated in older Britons as people stop making new friends as they grow older.
But, how did the people respond? Were they supportive?
There were plenty of supportive messages, like the following: “Sending you a virtual hug, Sam and hoping you get the right help and support you need x”
“I’ve been there Sam, its good to talk to someone”
“Sam it was a great act to ask for help into a group, congratulations. There is nothing we cannot overcome either with the support of ‘people’ like us or of professionals.”
Most of them saying that he had taken the right step in reaching out to ask for support and that he had won half the battle by just reaching out. If you do not have anyone to talk to, you get overwhelmed by feeling of loneliness. 5% of the adults in England feel lonely “often” or “always” according to ONS data. Just from some of the discussion that followed on Sam’s post, I could extract the information that he was probably in his 40s, and well educated, possibly in a non-team working environment. Is that the average profile of a lonely person?
Apparently not, as according to ONS, young adults, aged 16 to 24 years, reported feeling lonely more than those in older age groups.
We would never know if Sam got what he was looking for. He did say by means of an update that he is meeting someone the next day, which seemed like a positive outcome. However, not everyone who commented after the update agreed with that assessment.
There were many more suggestions on the group for Sam, broadly falling into the following categories:
- Reach out to a specific person (mentioned) as it was in their line of work to talk to people
- Seek professional/ doctors help.
- Not seek help on such forums as those people are not trained in helping. Meet the person you are meeting in a public place and be vary about personal information that is shared.
My personal view here is that Sam was looking for two things – First, he was there to just speak to someone. It is possible that he would benefit from speaking to an expert or a service provider, who has dealt with people with such issues. However, this need could be better server by someone who is equal, say someone else who is looking for a friend, rather than an expert who can help.
Secondly, he was looking for someone to advise him on his personal issues. I think the second one probably needed an expert counsellor or a doctor to help him with, depending on what those issues were.
The first issue is more general however, and he probably took the right step to reach out on the forum where he did. Some others in a similar situation might feel a little shy or scared when reaching out on a public social network chat group. I would feel a little exposed. Perhaps a bit of initial anonymity could help someone like me to put my note up on the noticeboard, where only the ones showing interest would get to know more about me.
Thats exactly what you can do on thisTangle.com. It is a much gentler route to finding what you are looking for – be it someone to have a chat with or to play a game of chess with.