It seems kind of dumb that the best way to keep up with my friends in person (excluding the obvious constant contact that social media provides) is to schedule events. However, most of us have jobs and houses and marriages and kids and hobbies and what have you. These things are high priority and “hanging out” often gets left by the wayside. Thus, scheduling friendship becomes important.
Besides just being fun, working on a podcast for over a year now has kept me and two of my friends seeing each other in person on a continual basis. Without the structure, we could (and have) go(ne) much longer stretches without really hanging out. It’s sad, but most likely true. The nature of our podcast largely being “dudes sitting around and shooting the breeze”, our time spent together is not unlike a non-podcast atmosphere, so it serves the two purposes simultaneously.
The only other recurring event for social gathering is a Sunday night dinner-having and TV-watching affair with some other friends. It’s a cool little “hey, how are you doing”, mixed with consuming food, mixed with consuming pop culture. Without this event, I honestly don’t know when or how often I would see a lot of them. Once again, sad, but probably fact.
It’s not that I’m not interested in people’s lives, or that I don’t want to see them otherwise, but the structure is like a witness. A mutually-agreed-upon witness who makes sure we’re all honest with each other when unconsciously pondering the “when was the last time you actually saw person X and talked to them?” question that needs to be asked from time to time. When you’re no longer having those constant, unplanned meetings in the halls of a high school or the quads of a college you have to be more proactive about maintaining your human connections (or at least I feel like I need to).
Sad, perhaps, but reality.