September 20th, 2023

In a recent Youtube video I watched titled Nowhere to Go; The Loss of Third Places by Elliot Sang, Sang states that loneliness is at an all-time high and attributes that to the lack of these "third places" in modern society. Sociologist Ray Oldenburg defined three distinct places that humans typically interacted with each other within, the first being home, the second being work, and the third being this ambiguous location that can simply be called a place of gathering. Cafes, clubs, libraries, churches, and all sorts of other locations can be considered a "third place," if they allow for the social gathering of many different types of people indiscriminately.
In the video, Sang quotes a TikTok video by @theeldestgenz (assuming that's The Eldest Gen Z) where the creator makes the claim that the lack of third places in modern American society is due to capitalism. More specifically the idea that people have nowhere to assimilate because they have no money, and where you have no money, you are not welcome. "Once upon a time, when my parents were my age in their twenties, they would hang out at the roller skating rink, they would hang out at the arcade, they would hang out at the local restaurant and just spend hours there, and within that span of hours, they would spend maybe $5-$10 doing that activity (getting a beverage) and then call it a night. For teenagers today, if you wanna go to a place like Dave and Busters or whatever... you have to spend a minimum of $50-$100," she says. While this alone is relatively agreeable, she presents it in such a way to demonize "the system" or "the capitalists" for prioritizing profits for their business. What else is there for a business to prioritize? I'm certainly not the one to ask. Notice the examples she gives when she's referring to her parents hanging out versus people hanging out today. For her parents, she gives incredibly lenient examples, literally stating, "getting a beverage," as something they would do as part of, "doing that activity," where in her own modern example, she references a much more expensive activity to be done. Comparing going to Dave and Busters and playing games to going to a restaurant and getting a drink is an absurd comparison that shows her true focus on the issue. She isn't disenchanted at the idea of not having a place to hang out and socialize, there are still to this day many places you can do that, she's upset that she doesn't have what her parents had. One could still very easily round up their friends and hang out at a restaurant for hours, but what they've come to find is that the act of "hanging out" isn't as enjoyable as whatever activity they're performing together. This is the fundamental issue in modern social environments. Simply enjoying the presence of friends and generally socializing isn't enough, you must also be doing an activity, hence the reason she brings up Dave and Busters in her argument. It's not enough to talk to your friends, likely because there's no real connection with them underneath the surface, so you must come up with an activity for the entire group to perform to distract from the complete disconnect you all have with one another.
Upon realizing this, I wonder if it holds any truth within my own social life. When was the last time I spent time with my friend group without doing something together on the side? Does this perhaps have any relation to the increasingly popular notion that we need more stimulation because of constant internet usage, thus we require more stimulation even in social situations where there should already be enough? Things like playing video games, Dungeons and Dragons, watching movies, ziplining, TikTok... if I were to take it all away and be left with nothing but a group of friends to talk to, would I be uncomfortable in that interaction? As unfortunate as it is to admit such a thing, I believe so. I do believe that without something to distract me from the interaction, I would be more uncomfortable in simply being there. Perhaps this belief is somewhat influenced by my current feelings as no one is without bias, but it's always something to consider.

Hey there! Hope you liked my lil essay, I've been thinking for the past few days about how all my posts are just kind of jumbled up nonsense, with one sentence completely unrelated to the last, so I thought I'd switch things up and go for one solid topic! I'll be posting all of my public contact info on my main index page, so let me know what you think! (If you wanna)