Where did all my friends go? 40

The Tough Stuff


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Do you ever stop and wonder what happened to your friends and where they all went? Do you sometimes feel like an island that nobody makes the effort to visit or build bridges to these days? Do you make an effort to build bridges to other people anymore?

In the day and age of the mobile phone and social media environment, it is all too easy to keep up with what people are doing without every having any contact with them. We don’t need to call for a chat anymore… we can see it all in our loved ones’ on liners on Facebook. And we don’t drop in on the way past mum’s house anymore – life is just too busy driving children from one amazing past time to another in the quest for a fabulous life.

This week I received an email that told an all-too-real story of the reality of a slowing occurring isolation at the young age of sixty. I suspect many of you can relate with your own stories. So I asked the author’s permission to publish it.

“Before Facebook I had built up a reasonable email base mainly consisting of family and friends from the past and the now… Unfortunately my wife developed Alzheimer’s’ disease and for some time what with looking after her and getting her into a suitable nursing home I just didn’t have enough energy to continue sending out my daily emails (I used to send 3 per day of my best). Then I noticed I wasn’t getting emails back anymore? And slowly it has dribbled down to emails only from a regular 8 people.

So now with an email list of approximately 120 I am receiving just a dribble from these 8 and I assume that the others either think that I have died or are deeply offended because I have stopped sending out emails, or just don’t care.

Human nature is a strange animal and now I wonder whether I should just resume without explanation or just creep away into my now forgotten hole?”

I replied “I think your friends would probably love it if you picked right back up where you left off. Often that’s the way in life isn’t it… We don’t like to ask someone if something is wrong in case they answer “yes” and we don’t know what to do to help them.  But if you wrote to them a little note about life over the time since you pulled back and said you missed them and looked forward to their replies, chances are people would rejoin you in the conversation and the isolation would be nowhere near as deafening.”

My advice was simple as an outsider, and I am no social adviser… But it shows just how hard it can be to become isolated in your sixties or seventies. Whether it be because of a partners’ illness, or or a life change, or just because you left the workplace where so many of your relationship might previously have been anchored, rebuilding can be hard. And they take an enormous amount of self-drive. It can be wonderful to make an effort only to be surprised how many people will make an effort back. But it can also be deafening when you are faced with that silence wondering how to overcome it, and how to take the first step.

Have you battled with isolation like this?  What is your best advice and personal insight into the battle with yourself over loneliness?



Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. I’m afraid I’m guilty of not doing emails anymore,because FB has taken over and we are all in touch all the time in this present moment. It’s very possible that has happened in this case also. Your advice was good and I do feel for him,I know my cousin overseas berated me for not doing emails anymore,but is adamant he wouldn’t “have a bar” of FB.

    2 REPLY
    • It does seem that everyone does Facebook now and my large influx of emails has dwindled to a couple a week. I noticed this and asked friends, and so joined facebook and I’m in touch again. Probably his friends would love to have contact again in a different way, ie facebook . He could email and ask them.

    • As one by one we got on FB , my cousins, their kids, Grandkids etc got a Family page going. So good to be able to write a post with news that’s ‘family’ , not necessarily ‘public’. It’s brought us altogether from all parts of the world without wading through other posts, pop ups etc..
      I’m a FB convert.

  2. Life can be hurtful and I also find if I don’t pick up the phone and make the effort you can sit at home quite lonely. People can hurt you without even knowing they have by their posts on social media. You can feel totally excluded.

  3. After leaving my place of work, I’ve realised that most so call friends only mixed with you for their advantage! The one who said I’ll keep in touch, we’ ll meet for a coffee etc. have no intension. So really some of Those so called friends you meet on your journey are just phases in life. The real one will always stick with you no matter what the rest are just users.

    1 REPLY
  4. Oh wow Pearl! That is a great idea,shall have to investigate that. I am very select about who I invite onto my page and it’s definitely not open to the public. Yes! I’m fully converted also:-)

  5. I wrote letters for years but gave up it was mostly one way street. I have few friends so to speak but im happy really. I ok with myself and my kits.

  6. To be honest I’m always baffled when I see people say they have huge numbers of friends. It’s simply not realistic. Call them colleagues, whatever, but real friends are small in number and we are blessed if we have more than one. Might be time to go out and meet some new friends in the real world?

  7. I reckon there is nothing like face to face, even though I do email and f.b. I think too that once you take that first step in joining a group it gets easier from there. I do also realise that some are house bound and isolated and social interaction is only available via social media, but for the rest of us my advice is get out there, life is short.

  8. Yes l would like to know where all the kids l went to school with are hiding Hollywood Primary from 1947/1951 then Subiaco 1952/54 then Nedlands 1954/55 then Claremont High 1956 / 60 l then went and worked at Coles in Hay St for 3 years then for Mr Pat man I Manning Park until l got married (nee) Potter

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